Potato fields, the U.S./Canadian border and the mirror image of their offensive: These are all things the CSU Rams can expect to see as they head north to Idaho this weekend.
The Rams (3-1, 0-1 MWC) are aiming to rebound after their first loss of the season and they have a chance to do so Saturday as they travel to Moscow, Idaho to face the University of Idaho Vandals (3-1, 1-0 WAC).
CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr sees a resemblance between the Rams and Vandals and said the pair’s offenses are particularly similar.
“They are a lot like us,” Kerr said. “They have a big offensive line that is very talented. They run the ball very well, and they have three running backs that complement each other very well.”
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild agreed, stressing that both Idaho and CSU display very balanced offenses.
“I think we both try to run the football,” the second year CSU headman said. “We don’t dink and dunk, but try and throw the ball down field. There are probably some similarities.”
In four games this season, both the Rams and Vandals have earned three wins, falling only once, both teams losing by a score of 42-23. Idaho fell at the University of Washington on Sept. 12, while the Rams lost to BYU in Provo, Utah last Saturday. The similarities don’t stop there.
Idaho has put up just more than 1,618 yards of total offense (588 rushing and 1030 passing), while the Rams follow closely behind with 1489 yards of total offense (476 rushing and 1013 passing). In addition, Idaho averages 28 points per game while the Rams weigh in with an average just more than 26.
CSU linebacker Mychal Sisson, who is in his second season as a starter, said that playing an offense similar to the Rams gives the defensive an advantage.
“It helps us a lot because we saw it all spring and all fall,” Sisson, who was a freshman All-American last season, said. “We go against it every day, so it helps us be prepared and we’ll be ready for basically anything they throw at us.”
Kerr agreed. “I think it should give us a good feel of what we have seen throughout our own camp,” he said. “It’s not like there are a lot of differences, although they do some things differently than our offense, obviously.”
CSU’s biggest challenge defensively this weekend
comes in the form of Idaho running back DeMaundray Woolridge. The senior has posted five rushing touchdowns this season and at a weight of 241 pounds has the potential to run over would-be tacklers.
Rams linebacker Michael Kawulok isn’t worried about Woolridge’s size or power and said stopping the big man starts by going back to the basics.
“We need to wrap up,” Kawulok, a sophomore, said. “That’s something we didn’t do last week. We didn’t wrap up and read our keys. We just need to get back to basic tackling.”
CSU allowed BYU running back Harvey Unga, a player close to the size of Woolridge, to roll for 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns last week.
Kerr has prepared the Rams defense for the challenge of Woolridge all week and said he believes the team will be able to control him.
“We’ve really been talking about the importance of tackling,” he said. “Our guys are working at it, and hopefully we’ll get after this guy.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.