Ricky Brewer walked into an oversized closet called the press room at Hughes Stadium on Saturday prepared to take questions from the media following Colorado Stateâ€™s 27-0 loss to No. 5 TCU.
Brewer, a senior linebacker for the Rams, answered the same tired questions reporters ask to the members of a losing football team on a weekly basis.
â€œWhat did they do to beat you?â€
â€œWhat could have been done differently?â€
â€œWhat do you take away from this game?â€
With Saturdayâ€™s loss being the 17th Brewer has been a part of in three active seasons with CSU, responding to questions like these is something he has grown accustomed to as a star player.
Polite and level-headed, Brewer gave the answers youâ€™d expect to hear: staying focused on the team, hopes of moving forward, learning from the loss and even cracking a joke about a mythical three-headed creature that resided in the Horned Frogsâ€™ offensive backfield.
But one answer he gave stood out above the rest.
When asked if the CSU offense performing so poorly was part of the reason the Ramsâ€™ defense started to collapse in the second half, Brewer made no excuses.
â€œNo,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s what strength and conditioning is all about. Thatâ€™s why we train in the winter, to be able to survive in the second half, to be able to survive in the fourth quarter. And today, I donâ€™t feel like we survived.â€
You see, the Rams held TCU to a season-low 27 points on the game â€“â€“ 14 below the Frogsâ€™ average â€“â€“ and kept themselves in it at halftime, only trailing 6-0.
CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr drew up every scheme he could, played all the right personnel, applied all the right coverages, but his unit could only mend the dam on its own for so long before the purple sea flooded Sonny Lubick Field.
If youâ€™ve read my column long enough, you know Iâ€™ve been very critical of Kerr, especially in the second half, when things tend to go bad for the Rams on the defensive side of the ball. Iâ€™ve felt for a while that the talent has been there, just that something was missing. But Saturday was the first time in three years that I was thoroughly impressed with the product on display.
CSU held TCUâ€™s Hesiman Hopeful quarterback Andy Dalton to only 109 yards passing and a completion percentage of 46. He threw for a touchdown, but it was an irrelevant score in the fourth quarter that put the Frogs up 26-0.
And though the Rams gave up 346 total rushing yards to TCU, only 114 of those came in the first half.
The dam break is not the defenseâ€™s fault.
I applaud Brewer for saying the defense wasnâ€™t tired in the second half; that it simply didnâ€™t come out with the same intensity as the first; that neither the Rams nor Frogs did anything different after the break other than change energy levels.
Not only do I applaud his response, I also agree with it. Youâ€™re not going to hold the No. 5 team in the nation down forever.
However, we all know the unit that has been truly hampering CSU success this year. I donâ€™t need to sit here and break down how bad the offense has looked in four out of five games.
Four times in Saturdayâ€™s loss, CSU broke the huddle with 12 players. Twice the Rams were penalized for it, the others they had to waste timeouts to avoid pushing themselves back five yards.
Stupid penalties, missed assignments, redundant passes for negative yards. The Ramsâ€™ offense is currently in a state of chaos and it looks like coach Steve Fairchild knows it.
Not only did Fairchild go up to TCU coach Gary Patterson after the game and say that if they kept playing until midnight, the Rams still wouldnâ€™t score, his postgame press conference was the first in which he didnâ€™t stress feelings that the offense was moving in the right direction.
So where is this offense going?
I honestly donâ€™t think anyone has a clue, because even Tennessee Tech scored seven points against the Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.