Oct 042009
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

Ladies and gentlemen, if you stayed awake late enough on Saturday night to watch the CSU football team’s loss to Idaho on ESPNU, you saw a prime example of how to kill your own season. Kill may be an understatement; brutal murder might be more accurate. The Rams’ loss to the Idaho Vandals was exactly what the team could not afford at this point of the season –/it’s the type that can easily send a team into a deadly tailspin.

Sure, if you want, you can blame the loss on the officials spotting obvious first downs short of the marker or on their lack of knowledge of the rule book when it comes to receivers stepping out of bounds and then being the first to touch the football (Idaho wide receiver Eric Greenwood’s first touchdown reception), but ultimately it came down to CSU just getting whooped by an inferior opponent.

Granted, Idaho is a talented team whose only loss came against Washington, the school who beat Southern California and took Notre Dame to overtime on Saturday, but the Rams are a more talented squad –/they just got their butts handed to them.

I’m sorry, the blunt truth hurts.

The game started off great for CSU, Nick Oppenneer got an interception in the end zone on the Vandals opening drive, then the Rams charge down the field and score. The Rams make Idaho punt their next possession and Stucker leads the team again as CSU takes a 14-0 lead.

Great, right? Sure, but now is where about everything starts to fall apart. For the remainder of the game, the Idaho offense runs what are essentially three different routes for the next three quarters that the CSU secondary can’t seem to stop to save their lives. Those routes are: send the 6-foot-6 Greenwood deep on the fade, send receiver Max Komar across the middle or send him on an out route to the sideline.

CSU simply could not stop those three routes, which allowed Idaho to control the entire second half.

CSU secondary should not shoulder all the blame, however, this is a team sport. I mean, I guess you could argue that the secondary kept the Rams in the game. They gave CSU a chance with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Oppenneer knocked the ball loose from Greenwood, forcing an incompletion on third down which led to a Vandal punt. Stucker threw his only interception two plays later that sealed the Rams’ fate. I guess we could put the blame on him?

I don’t know if that’s fair, though, before that play, he did complete 19 of 34 pass attempts for 297 yards and four touchdowns –/that’s pretty impressive.

You could yell at Rashaun Greer for dropping yet another perfectly thrown ball that was a guaranteed touchdown, but he did end up with seven receptions for 125 yards.

Maybe the defensive line? They couldn’t seem to stay balanced and were called for offsides twice on third down that led to the Vandals getting a new set of downs at critical points of the game. Yea, let’s blame it on them. Oh wait, without the d-line preoccupying the Idaho offensive line, there would be no way for Chris Gipson and Klint Kubiak to record sacks/–/I guess we can’t blame the front four.

So whose fault is it? It’s everyone’s. It’s a team sport, you win as a team and you lose as a team,and no matter how nasty that loss was and how detrimental it could wind up being to the rest of the season, the blame cannot be placed on one individual player or one team unit.

I wasn’t able to attend the game in Moscow, I was in the comfort of my home and for the first time this season I got to actually cheer and yell at my TV screen because it’s obviously a portal that allows the players to hear me (everyone knows that’s a fact). I was pulling my hair out when Greer dropped that touchdown, when Eric Peitz couldn’t hold on to that third down conversion and when the secondary couldn’t cover those Idaho receivers. Just like all of you, I was in shock. But when I sat down and thought about all of it, the team as a whole, no one individual, should take the brunt of the blame.

College football is a tough game, and I’m not out on the practice field every day trying to represent my school. Outside of intramurals and video games, my days of being an athlete are long behind me. Still, I understand the ramifications of this loss to Idaho.

CSU started off the season 3-0 but by the time they play San Diego State three weeks from now, their record could easily be 3-4, which I feel is a big step backward. CSU hosts Utah for homecoming on Saturday and then hits the road for No. 10 TCU the next week.

I don’t want to see this season spin out of control, but there is absolutely no room for error against the Utes this weekend. It’s do-or-die time in Fort Collins, who’s going to make a play?

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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