In 2006, the CSU Rams started the season 2-0, only to lose to the Nevada Wolf Pack in the third game of the season. Three years later, the Rams have once again started the season 2-0 and CSU’s defense is hoping to change a previous fate as they host the Wolf Pack on Saturday.
Safety Klint Kubiak was a freshman with the Rams in 2006 and remembers the loss against Nevada. Now, as a senior, Kubiak is trying not to compare this team to past CSU squads.
“This is a different team with different coaches,” Kubiak said. “It has a different feel, so I wouldn’t compare that at all. We have a really good squad with a lot of potential this year.”
CSU’s defense has played a big role in keeping the Rams unbeaten so far this season, boasting the 9th ranked rushing defense in the nation while producing five turnovers and six sacks.
But the knights of the green and gold face their toughest assignment of the season Saturday.
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild was impressed with what he has seen from the Wolf Pack on tape and explained this isn’t going to be an easy game.
“I was surprised at their talent level when I threw on the tape,” the second year head coach said. “They have ability and play makers on both sides of the ball. They are going to give us all we want and it’s a good test for us.”
Nevada has yet to win a game this season, falling to Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., in the team’s first and only game of 2009.
Cornerback Nick Oppenneer said that Nevada’s offense is much better than what the score board against the Fighting Irish showed.
“I think they are a really good offense,” the senior said. “I think against Notre Dame they struggled turning the ball over in the red zone, but they shouldn’t have been shut out.
They could have put points on the board really easily.”
Nevada is led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who passed for over 2,500-yards while rushing for over 1,000-yards last season — only the fifth player in NCAA history to do so.
Fairchild explained that Kaepernick is as good as his numbers show, but pointed out his team has had success containing mobile quarterbacks so far this season.
“We need to prohibit him from pulling the ball and making big runs on us,” Fairchild said. “That usually starts with our assignments defensively. We’ll try and do what we’ve done in past games and try to get a little heat on the quarterback and keep the ball in front of us.”
Kubiak agreed with Fairchild’s strategy, adding that CSU’s defensive secondary will have to be sharp all day long.
“We’re just going to have to stay in coverage longer,” the Rams’ defensive captain said. “He’s so mobile that he can get out of the pocket and throw one deep on you. We’re going to have to hold our guys longer and make sure our line can contain him.”
Making things even tougher on the Rams is a list of defensive injuries. Starting cornerback Gerard Thomas is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game with a bruised left knee and defensive tackle Ty Whittier is questionable with a stinger.
Even with an injury problem, Kubiak said that he is confident going into a showdown with the Wolf Pack.
“We just keep building confidence and keep playing better every week,” he said. “It’s going to be huge if we go get that win.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.