A time for changes?

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Oct 292006
 
Authors: Mike Donovan

The last three weeks have been new for the Sonny Lubick-era CSU Rams.

Never before had a Lubick-led squad lost by one point, been shut out by Wyoming or gave up an 18-point second half lead.

With all these new and creative ways of losing, fans and students have started to call for changes within the football team, in both style of coaching and play.

But the three straight losses don’t mean this team is bad or that the coaching needs sweeping changes. Three straight losses for a program of CSU’s caliber does, however, mean that smart and civil evaluations should be done.

The running game

After eight games, CSU’s rushing offense still hasn’t had a single 100-yard rusher. The main reason for this has been for the incredible amount of injuries suffered by the Rams this season.

Seven of the Rams’ top eight offensive linemen have missed at least one game with an injury. And don’t forget that Kyle Bell has been sidelined for the entire season with a knee injury.

Now even with an offensive line that has still yet to gel, the running back production does not seem to be where it should be. Gartrell Johnson has struggled to get anything going in his seven starts. Nnamdi Ohaeri made his first start of the season against the Lobos over the weekend.

Despite Ohaeri’s numbers in his first start (just 24 yards), he is the back who should start the remainder of games for the Rams. Ohaeri is shiftier and harder to bring down than Johnson has been.

The play calling

The term “bubble screen” has become a profanity in most CSU fans’ vocabularies. While the bubble screen is an effective tool to spread out a defense, it lacks any teeth if the defense isn’t worried about stopping a running game.

Offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt’s ability as a play-caller has been questioned, but not many people have answers to what other plays CSU could run in their place. This season’s lack of offensive production should not be blamed on the play calling because good teams should be able to win games no matter who is calling the plays.

The special teams

Even in a day when kicker Jason Smith stunned Hughes Stadium with a 49-yard field goal, the kicking game was still to blame for the loss to New Mexico. Punter/holder Jimmie Kaylor dropped the snap on an extra point attempt and that one missed point turned out to be the difference.

Smith’s numbers on the year have been less than desirable (four for 10 on field goals), however he is CSU’s best option in the kicking department. His 49-yarder proved that Smith can still kick the ball well.

Another part of the special teams that has been lacking is the return game. Alex Square was lined up at kick returner Saturday, and look for him to stay next to Damon Morton for the rest of the season. This combo gives the Rams one of the fastest returner duos in the conference.

Sometimes teams just get beat. And while a lot of little things could change, mass and large changes are unnecessary for a team that is just six more points away from having six wins.

Sports editor Mike Donovan can be reached at sports@collegian.com. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.

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