The CSU Athletic Department’s campaign of “Defend the Fort” has been growing more and more ironic over the past few weeks due to the fact the Rams football team, unless you count James Skelton’s interception against Weber State, hasn’t made an overly important defensive stop since week one against CU-Boulder-a school who is proving to be one of the worst teams in FBS.
No, you can’t count Weber State’s choke job with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. CSU lucked out that the Wildcat’s backup center messed up the snap and Guy Miller was there to fall on it.
What started as an impressive 3-0 start to the season has become a nightmare with three consecutive losses and, based on the Rams’ play the past two weeks against Idaho and Utah, it could be a long night at TCU next weekend.
Time out. Time to clarify something.
I’ve been told by some that the tone of my column has gone from overly positive to very negative over the past few weeks. For those of you who think that, I feel it is your perception of The Weekly Blitz that has changed, not my attitude.
From the start I have been honest. Straight up honest throughout both the good and the bad. I like to tell it like it is — the way I see it. If I have offended a reader somehow, I apologize, but don’t take things so personally. I’ve been told by both athletes and fellow CSU “civilians” that they enjoy my column. I appreciate that, I do, and I thank you for reading, but the bottom line is that I’m honest when the Rams are doing well, and I’m honest during times like these.
I want CSU to win, but I have no effect on the outcome. I simply analyze and report.
Ok, time to continue. Where were we?
Yes, the defense. Since allowing only 251 yards to the Buffaloes in week one, the CSU defense is now allowing an average of 370 per game. In the past two weeks the Rams have given up 860 yards of offense (403 against Idaho and 457 against Utah). Of those 860 yards, 581 came via the air attack. What is wrong with this defense that once looked so promising?
It’s not as if there isn’t talent on this squad. Safety Elijah-Blu Smith had three interceptions in the Rams first three wins, and cornerback Nick Oppenneer has reached the same feat in the last three losses. Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr’s resume’ speaks for itself in terms of quality, and despite injuries, this defensive line has held their own and provided much better pressure on the quarterback than the one from a year ago.
Did the quality of the Rams opponents just increase along with CSU, keeping the green and gold still the same amount of steps behind the Mountain West Conference’s elite?
While the defense struggled against Utah, quarterback Grant Stucker also took a step back backward. After throwing for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns against BYU and Idaho, Stucker took a big blow against Utah, completing only 12 of his 24 pass attempts for 184 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions — all of which were picked off by Utah free safety Robert Johnson.
Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure why Stucker was put in position for his second interception after it was clear the poor weather conditions were putting a damper on his usually solid deep ball. But what’s done is done.
And you know what made matters worse on Saturday? The fact that we have some idiot students at this school who decided to turn a spectator sport into a snowball fight by throwing them on the field, at police and at photographers. Ever heard of a thing called sportsmanship? You’re just lucky there wasn’t a 15-yard penalty thrown on CSU for unsportsmanlike conduct (and lucky it didn’t happen 15 times).
To those of you who disgraced our institution on Saturday, congratulations for being a waste to society. Now please never attend class again, so you will fail out of school and not make the rest of us look as bad as you.
See, brutal honestly. That’s the name of the game.
This is a confusing and frustrating time right now for the green and gold faithful, but there has to be a way to push through. Doesn’t there?
I know, let us turn our attention to the CSU volleyball team who without the “Big Three” from a season ago are proving to be a much better overall unit. The Rams have won their last 10 matches and are currently boasting a Mountain West Conference record of 6-0, which is good enough for sole possession of first place following New Mexico’s upset of the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City this weekend.
But there’s still work to do. In fact, CSU has their biggest two volleyball matches of the young conference season this week at home inside of Moby Arena. On Thursday, CSU hosts BYU (9-7, 4-1) and then play Utah (12-6, 5-1) on Saturday.
What do you say we take our minds away from football for a while and keep defending the Fort for the volleyball team, who hasn’t lost a home MWC match in two seasons?
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.