“Of course I’m going to take it to heart. There is no way I can sit here and say it is ok. It will be a nice little surprise when we meet up on Saturday at noon. We’ll see who is ready to play.”
That was CSU’s junior middle linebacker Jeff Horinek at practice Tuesday responding to comments by Brigham Young tight end Vic So’oto in the Salt Lake City Tribune newspaper earlier this week.
“With our stable of running backs, it’s just like impossible for us not to get over 100 yards every game, so it should be a fun day for those guys on Saturday,” So’oto told the Tribune.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the interstate chide may not have been completely off the mark. CSU has given up 100 yards to opposing running backs five times this year, and surrender an average of 226.6 yards per game, 115th worst in the nation.
In its last game, against Utah, the defense allowed 322 yards rushing, including a pair of 100 yard days from Ute running backs Darrell Mack and Ray Stowers. While the passing game has been the main focus of BYU’s offense, the Cougars may turn to their redshirt freshman running back, Harvey Unga, for a big game on the ground. Unga has 684 yards this season, 50 short of the BYU freshman record.
“I know they are going to be ready to play, they are a smart team,” Horinek said. “They are good guys, but they are kind of starting to get known, as far as I know they are kind of more arrogant than a lot of teams. We just have to be ready to go.”
With the suddenly porous run defense in the spotlight, Horinek said that the team is looking to mix things up Saturday, even if it does leave them vulnerable.
“We just put in a couple of different defenses. They are kind of almost a little bit of a gamble,” Horinek said, “But you know if something bad happens, it’s not like we are going to get taken out of the BCS rankings or anything like that. We’re just going to focus on having fun, focus on getting a win, and we’ll gamble a little bit to do it.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said that the team spent the week doing tackling drills and working live against the offense to get ready for the game. As far as the talk in the newspapers, Stanard said it only provided motivation for the team.
“That stuff takes care of itself. Our guys read the newspapers and it just adds to the locker room stuff on the boards,” Stanard said. “This is a good rivalry between us and BYU. We look forward to playing them.”