With two insignificant games left on the schedule and the hopes of a bowl game all but gone with a 35-22 loss to the University of Utah on Saturday, the CSU Rams football team is left searching for reasons to play its remaining two games on the schedule.
When asked what his team has left to play for, Head Coach Sonny Lubick’s initial response was “next year.”
Sadly, Lubick may be correct.
For many, this season has been one to forget for any Ram football fan.
Therefore, focusing on next season may be not be that bad of an idea, considering the way this year has gone and factoring in the talent that will return for 2007.
Sure the Rams will lose a pair of experienced offensive linemen, a couple of gritty linebackers and one receiver, but every other significant player is expected to return.
Looking forward to next year is never a good thing when the current season is not over, but right now it seems to be the only positive aspect of the program.
This fall will unfortunately be remembered as a season full of far more questions than answers.
What if junior running back Kyle Bell had never torn his ACL? What if the offensive line could have stayed healthy all season? Did the criminal incident involving three former players days before the Rocky Mountain Showdown affect the team more than most thought?
And probably the most significant: What has happened to CSU football the past four seasons?
With Saturday’s loss, the Rams are now four games under .500 since the start of the 2003 season.
They will miss a bowl game for the second time in three years and seem to have become simply an average non-BCS conference team.
But offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt said the longest losing streak under Lubick did not merit any changes on the offensive side of the football.
“You go with what’s been working for the last three years,” he said in response to making any halftime adjustments after Saturday’s game in Utah. “You just have to make plays.”
Apparently not enough plays were made Saturday, or during the entire season.
What makes the past few seasons that much more frustrating is the success the program experienced in the mid-1990s and at the turn of the century.
The Rams were once the pride of the conference and now are in serious jeopardy of finishing last if they fail to win one of its next two games.
However, talk to any player on the team and he’ll say there’s no way they are as bad as their record shows.
“I think if we all play to our capability, we could be a 7-2, 7-3 team,” said sophomore defensive back Jake Galusha. “It’s just really upsetting.”
If that is true, they have the chance to prove it in two weeks when the defending conference champions travel to Fort Collins to play the Rams following this week’s bye.
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.