Sep 042006
 
Authors: Brett Okamoto The Rocky Mountain Collegian

It was the fourth game of the season before Kyle Bell scored his third touchdown of the season last year. Gartrell Johnson got his before Saturday’s fourth quarter.

So, why should Ram fans not be convinced?

It was all positive comments about Johnson’s performance in the locker room after the game.

“(Johnson) did a great job,” said quarterback Caleb Hanie. “It was great for him to get those three touchdowns under his belt.”

Even if the Ram football players didn’t say it after the game – our ground game was not there Saturday.

How could it be when up until a 35-yard run by third-string back Nnamdi Ohaeri in the final minutes of the game, the longest run of the day had been a 13-yard dash by our quarterback?

Johnson did exactly what he is capable of – pick up short yardage around the goal line. The fact that he’s such a heavy runner makes him perfect for third-and-short situations – not first-and-ten.

A starting running back simply cannot average 1.9 yards per carry, as Johnson did Saturday – especially against a Division-I AA defense.

“The yardage issue is a big deal,” said Johnson, who finished the day with only 34 yards on 18 carries. “I have to go back and watch film and see my mistakes – see if I can correct them.”

In Johnson’s defense, his blocking was mediocre at best most of the day. Starting center Tim Walter sustained a game-ending injury in the first quarter, forcing offensive guard Nick Allotta to move to center. Walter could be out in “a couple weeks” according to Head Coach Sonny Lubick.

Johnson’s backup, Michael Myers, showed promise Saturday, earning 38 yards on seven carries. If you were surprised to see Myers in the offense statistics, it’s probably because he played as a defensive back up until this spring.

As potentially good as Myers looks, I am not ready to feel all that great about handing over our ground game to a guy who was on the other side of the ball up until this year.

We all saw Gartrell run over three guys on his way to the end zone in the first quarter and we did cross the goal line four times on the ground and zero in the air.

Things could be worse.

But CSU should have had 250 instead of 150 rushing yards on Saturday, our front line is about as healthy as a plague and we have more defensive backs lining up behind the quarterback than running backs.

I’m not ready to stop whining about No. 34’s right knee just yet.

Staff writer Brett Okamoto can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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