Of all the things that have gone poorly so far this season for CSU football, one of the most perplexing has been the injuries.
The Rams are immersed in a 12-game losing streak dating to last season and are attempting to end it without several of their starters.
“I guess our karma’s bad or something, we just haven’t caught any real breaks this season,” said cornerback Darryl Williams.
Amidst the 0-5 start to the year, the Rams have lost tight end Kory Sperry for the season and have dealt with the ongoing injury problems of offensive linemen Cole Pemberton and Brian Lepak, defensive end Jesse Nading and safeties Klint Kubiak and Mike Pagnotta.
Pagnotta, who led the Rams in tackles before injuring his left ankle in the team’s fourth game against Texas Christian University, has been one of the toughest losses for the CSU defense.
Defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said the Rams have missed Pagnotta’s experience, though he said he has been impressed with Pagnotta’s replacement, senior Zach Bryson.
“‘Pags is an experienced guy, he makes plays, not that (Bryson) doesn’t because he’s making plays too,” Stanard said. “But you just look at the fact that Pagnotta’s still probably in the top fifteen in tackles after missing a couple games. He’s just got a way of getting to the football.”
Stanard said both Pagnotta and Kubiak are “day-to-day,” and will be evaluated further as the week goes on, but Pagnotta said he hopes to play in Saturday’s home game against Air Force.
“I’m hoping I can practice Thursday and run around,” he said. “Rehab has been going well.”
Pemberton, who has battled a nagging ankle injury all season, did not practice Tuesday, but offensive line coach Darryl Funk said he will be back on the field today.
Among other banged up players is Nading, who strained ligaments in his pinky in last Saturday’s loss to San Diego State and is awaiting X-Ray results but is also expected to play this weekend.
Simply put, the Rams’ training room has been extra busy lately.
“Our team morale is actually a lot better than you’d expect,” said Williams. “Yeah, it hurts to have two pre-season all-conference (defensive) backs go down, but Jermaine (Walters) and (Bryson) and Jake (Galusha) have all stepped up.”
Pagnotta said he believes the team is handling the adversity well.
“You can say you can’t catch a break, but you’ve got to make your breaks,” he said. “We’ve been working hard, it’s not for a lack of effort.”
Yet the losing is getting old, Pagnotta said.
“The most frustrating this is that we’re playing close games, there were several games we should have won, but it was just one play here one play there,” he said. “But nobody on this team is getting down.”
Nor is the team getting caught up in the losing streak.
“I feel like we get ourselves in more trouble if we keep thinking about the streak,” Nading said. “If we keep our minds focused on Air Force, that’s our best shot to win.”