“Defend the Fort” posters hang on walls across campus as part of CSU’s athletics marketing campaign for the season. The phrase sums up one of CSU football’s goals for the season: make teams regret coming to play at Hughes Stadium.
Rams’ football takes its first step in re-establishing a dominant home presence Saturday against Weber State in its home opener.
“We always talk about making this a tough trip on people. We just want this to be a miserable trip for people to come in here and have to play,” said head coach Steve Fairchild.
Fresh off its win over CU-Boulder from the Big Twelve Conference, the Rams (1-0, 0-0 MWC) aren’t overlooking Weber State, the No.10 ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Wildcats (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky) lost 29-22 to Wyoming in its season opener, but racked up 411 yards of total offense, 322 through the air.
Quarterback Cameron Higgins and wide receiver Tim Toone combine to form a dynamic duo for a team that likes to spread out the ball and air it out.
“They’re a good football team — better receivers than CU, I’ll tell you that right now,” defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said. “They’re a very explosive offense.”
Toone, a three-year starter and career leader in touchdowns, recorded 84 catches for 1,525 yards in 2008.
“I’ve been looking at him. He’s a pretty good receiver. They try to get the ball to him a lot,” sophomore cornerback Gerard Thomas said. “It’ll be a test for me and Op (cornerback Nick Oppenneer) this week, and we’ll see what we’re made of as corners and a secondary.”
The Wildcats also bring back three-year starter Trevyn Smith at running back, who is the school’s career leader in rushing yards.
The Rams have their own issues at running back as they may be without the services of junior John Mosure, who sat out this week in practice for precautionary reasons after sustaining a head injury at CU-Boulder. Junior Leonard Mason and senior Alex Square are two running backs who will see carries on Saturday.
Mason rushed for 107 yards on 23 carries at CU-Boulder and could see many holes in the porous Weber State defense which gave up 246 yards on the ground to Wyoming.
“Leonard is smart enough to know that he’s got to step up and pick everything up just like John would,” quarterback Grant Stucker said.
Fairchild and Kerr are familiar coaching against Weber State’s head man, Ron McBride, who was the head coach at Utah (1990-2002) during Fairchild’s and Kerr’s time with CSU earlier in the decade.
“They’re a tough team. Ron McBride, he was the coach at Utah for all those years. He’s put the same stamp on this team: physical tough fight you type of team in all three phases of the game,” Kerr said.
The Rams are looking for their first 2-0 start since 2006, when they defeated Weber State and CU-Boulder. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and a live game blog can be followed at CollegianSports.com.
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.