Bustin’ a bear trap

Sep 082011
Authors: Kevin Lytle

The CSU football team got the result it wanted in its season opener last Saturday against the University of New Mexico, winning 14-10.

But there are some issues CSU must deal with to develop into a bowl-worthy team.

The defense was solid, but the offense left plenty of room for improvement. The running game averaged a pedestrian 3.3 yards-per-carry. And despite completing almost 85 percent of his passes, quarterback Pete Thomas was forced to throw short much of the afternoon.

The good news for CSU is that Saturday provides a perfect opportunity to rectify those problems. The Rams will be in front of an energetic “orange-out” crowd and are facing a Northern Colorado team that lost 22-20 to NAIA school Lindenwood last week.

The first thing CSU will try to do is create more big plays in the running game.

“It’s all about patience,” said Raymond Carter, who had 52 yards rushing last week. “If you’re patient and let everybody get on their blocks then the next thing you know there’s a whole righthere and you can just gash them downfield.”

After watching the tape, CSU players felt that the running backs attacked the line too quickly without allowing the play to develop.

A poor run game in-turn allowed the defensive secondary to play deep and cut off all downfield throws, forcing Thomas to check down to underneath receivers. This led a fullback, Joe Brown, to lead CSU in receiving.

“A lot of plays you run off of certain coverages,” receiver Marquise Law said. “If the defense runs a certain coverage, you have to check it down. As a receiver, it’s a down moment in a game because you’re looking for a big breakout play.”

Coach Steve Fairchild feels that his offense did a good job of operating within the framework of what the defense provided, but he knows that his playmakers need to be more involved.

“If they’re taking away deep balls and outside guys, we’ve got to be able to hit inside guys,” Fairchild said. “Likewise, it doesn’t take anybody studying football to see we need to get our receivers involved more. That’s a point of emphasis this week.”

Another focus point of the week has been just that: focus.

CSU is facing a team that saw its quarterback and running back get hurt while suffering a bad loss. And with division rival CU-Boulder looming next week, it would be easy for attention to wane.

But Fairchild insists that his team is locked in.

“If you’re the University of Northern Colorado, this is a big game for you, a chance to make a statement,” Fairchild said. “I am sure they look at it as a winnable game. Our football program is not at the point where we can overlook anybody.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

  • What: Northern Colorado vs. CSU
  • When: Noon, Saturday
  • Where: Hughes Stadium
  • Tickets: Student tickets available in Lory Student Center until 5 p.m. Friday.
  • TV: The Mtn.
  • Live-blog: Check Facebook and Twitter (@RMCollegian) for link to live-blog.
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