It’s safe to say this is not what the 2009 edition of the CSU Rams football team was expected to be.
A year ago, the CSU Rams were fresh off a victory over the Wyoming Cowboys, giving the green and gold their sixth win of the season and earning an invitation to a bowl game.
Now, just 12 short months later, the Rams lost to the hated Cowboys ending their season with a 3-9 record and leaving the team to figure out where it all went wrong in 2009.
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild said after Friday’s loss that the Rams’ current nine-game losing streak leaves a bad taste in the team’s mouth heading into the off-season but optimistically explained that it might help to bring change.
“It just sits over our head like a huge dark cloud. To me it’s going to motivate the hell out of me,” Fairchild said fighting back tears. “It’s like playing CU first and not having a cake-walk opener. I like it there all off-season. We’ll improve as a football team and we’ll come roaring back.”
Lou Greenwood, a true freshman running back, was disappointed in the Rams season but said their record doesn’t reflect who the team really is.
“We have a lot to work for,” he said. “Everyone thinks we suck. Our record is 3-9 and that’s a sucky record. We know we aren’t sucky, so we have something to prove.”
The Rams did have some bright spots in the midst of a dark and disappointing season, mostly coming in the form of young talent.
In CSU’s 17-16 loss to the Cowboys on Friday, two true freshmen turned in impressive performances including Greenwood, who had 51 total yards and a touchdown, and defensive end C.J. James, who contributed a pair of sacks.
James said that he is going to make sure the Rams don’t have another 3-9 season during his remaining time with the team and admitted that “Obviously I haven’t been working hard enough.”
“I need to be contributing more to the team, and that’s what I’m going to be doing,” said James, a Florida native. “I’m going to be hitting the weights, I’m going to be running, and I’m going to do all the things necessary for me to be the best player at my position and to contribute to my team.”
Fairchild said the time that young players like James and Greenwood got this year will make a big difference down the road.
Due to injuries, key contributors on the Rams missed a combined 38 starts, 27 coming on the defensive side of the ball, leaving plenty of time for backups to gain experience.
“We got some valuable experience with all that’s gone on this year,” Fairchild said. “Some guys were playing that probably weren’t ready to be in there. It will add to the competition next year.”
James explained that his own future and the future of the Rams looks bright, even though the team is down at the moment.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “Everyone keeps telling me that I’m going to be a good player for this program, and I’m going to lead this program. Me, I’m just focusing on doing my job, trying to meet the coach’s standards and exceed them.”
Greenwood agreed and said he’s already put the disappointments of 2009 behind him.
“I’ve already forgot about it,” he said. “I’m ready to work, and I’m ready to come back next year and win a conference championship.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._