I couldn’t help but feel like a hypocrite after Saturday’s 24-3 loss to the Brigham Young Cougars. For the past three seasons I’ve been covering Ram football, and one thing that’s always irked me a little is when I see a line of cars leaving the game before it’s over. If we’re winning stay and celebrate, if we’re losing stay and mourn.
But when I saw the trail of brake lights sneaking out of Hughes Stadium Saturday right around the third quarter and a 21-3 Cougar lead, I couldn’t help but think one thing – I don’t blame you.
This football season has been one thing that the previous two have not. It’s been boring.
Here’s the story line Saturday night: A better team is coming to our house and will probably beat us. There are a few things you can hope your team will do when a situation like this comes along.
First, you hope they’ll fight. We didn’t. You hope for big plays that will at least give you the chance to cheer. There weren’t. And you hope that when the game is over at least maybe you can have some positive feelings about the rest of the season. I don’t.
To say they didn’t fight may be too harsh because the defense did hold the Cougars to 16 fewer points than what they’ve been averaging all year and they were still pursuing the ball as fierce in the fourth quarter as they were in the first. Darryl Williams did give the crowd a breath of energy with his diving interception of John Beck in the end zone.
But at the same time, the Rams didn’t look like the pissed off team they should be after losing three straight to worse teams. They didn’t look like they wanted to win – they looked like they wanted to not look bad.
They say football is not a game of excuses. That’s not true at all. There are reasons to why this team is struggling this year and it’s not just about Xs and Os.
The first is the injuries. Running back Nnamdi Ohaeri said, “We play a dangerous game. You hope for speedy recoveries and try not to dwell on it.”
Dwell on it or not, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect your team. It seems as though the Rams can’t run out of the tunnel without someone going down this season. Senior linebacker Jon Radford “sprained” his right knee Saturday. That sprain will probably be confirmed to be a torn ACL sometime this week before he goes into surgery.
Another reason the ’06 Rams haven’t been as exciting as we would have hoped this year is the off-field troubles. When three players were arrested for fraud, their offensive coordinator’s wife passed away and their wide receivers coach contracted cancer, I wondered when it would all catch up with them. It did halfway through the Air Force game three weeks ago when they blew a 21-3 lead and haven’t won a game since.
I’ve tried to force myself to get angry at those who decided to take off at halftime Saturday night, but the more I think about it the more I can’t. Our biggest moment of the year, a win over rival Colorado-Boulder in Denver early in the season, has even been tarnished now that we’ve realized just how bad the Buffs really are.
The last home football of the season is coming up on Nov. 25 against TCU. I won’t ask you to come for the excitement of the game. But there is a reason you should still be there.
“We just ask our fans to support us,” said Ohaeri. “We love that. We need that.”
It’s one season where the team might need you more than you need them.
Football beat writer Brett Okamoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.