When CSU head football coach Sonny Lubick plays at home, he gives the word “home” new meaning.
The stadium is named after him, after all.
“It’s good for us, especially after two tough games,” said Lubick. “It’s always nice to be at home.”
Nice may be an understatement. Heading into this weekend’s game against the New Mexico Lobos, one can’t help but notice that the 4-3 Rams have been undefeated playing home games – and a not-so-undefeated 1-3 away.
With the season nearly two-thirds over, the Rams have played at Hughes only twice. After a slow start to conference play, getting back in front of a home crowd may be just what the Rams need.
“We’re real excited about playing at home,” said quarterback Caleb Hanie. “Back in front of familiar faces, our field, great atmosphere. It’ll be nice having the crowd on our side.”
Sitting on the sidelines, sometimes it’s lost on fans how valuable having a twelve man can be.
“When you’re on the road and you make a mistake things can snowball on you,” said Hanie. “At home it stays even and they kind of wait for you to do something better.”
The up-side to the Rams having played so little at home early is that they will play three of their last five games at home. In addition to the UNM game, there couldn’t be two better games to have at home than the Nov. 4 matchup against conference-leading BYU, and a game against TCU two weeks later.
“It’s nice that three of our last five games will be at home,” said linebacker Jeff Horinek. “Especially later on in the season, it’s nice to stay at home.”
As much relief the Rams will feel playing at home this Saturday, they’re more worried about their play than the crowd’s noise.
“When you’re at home you can control the level of the crowd,” said Hanie. “When they’re on the field the crowd makes noise and it’s hard for them to hear down there. When you’re at home you can’t stay complacent and think the fans are going to carry you through the game, though.”
With as much promise the Rams’ season had early this season, everything will be on the line the rest of the way out if they still have hopes for a conference title. That means that, home crowd or not, they have to put together a string of wins right now.
“We’ve put ourselves in a tough position and now we have to bounce back,” said Horinek. “Whether this game was being played in New Mexico or here it doesn’t matter. We have to win.”
Football beat writer Brett Okamoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.