Last Saturday, the first drive of the game for the CSU football team went for 80 yards and a touchdown as the offense was able to effectively mix its run and pass game.
But following that drive, the offense totaled only 163 more yards on the way to a 28-14 loss.
The drop-off came when the CU defense shifted an extra defender to the line of scrimmage to help suffocate the running attack. The change dared CSU to win with its passing game.
Unfortunately quarterback Pete Thomas and his receiving core werenâ€™t able to punish CU.
In addition to stopping the run game, the CU defense ran aggressive man-to-man defense on the CSU receivers, keeping them from finding many openings.
CSUâ€™s next opponent, Utah State, runs tight man coverage as well, and will likely do it more than ever until the Ramsâ€™ receivers prove they can beat it.
â€œWe knew that was an area that offensively, weâ€™re not as productive as we need to be,â€ said coach Steve Fairchild. â€œWeâ€™re going to have to separate better and make plays against man coverage better than we did the last game.â€
Saturdayâ€™s loss continued a disturbing trend for the Ramsâ€™ passing attack.
CSU has yet to develop a consistent threat through the air, averaging only 204 passing yards per game, a number that ranks 78th in the nation.
And of CSUâ€™s first three opponents, only one has good numbers in pass defense.
The CU defense gives up only 208 yards per game through the air, but the University of New Mexico and the University of Northern Colorado give up 332 and 373 pass yards per game, respectively.
CSUâ€™s receivers have accounted for only 296 yards and no receiver has more than 66 yards on the season.
Most disturbing perhaps is the inability of the offense to stretch the ball downfield.
The longest pass play on the season is a 34-yard pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore against CU, and that was a short pass that turned into a long catch-and-run.
And with teams crashing defenders towards the line of scrimmage to stop the run, the offense will have to spread the ball downfield to help the run game.
â€œAt some point weâ€™ve got to get the ball downfield at receiver for our offense to be effective,â€ Fairchild said.
According to receiver Lou Greenwood, he has only run a couple of down field routes on the season. But after the receivers met with coaches following Saturdayâ€™s loss, he is confident the offense will contain more deep looks this weekend.
â€œGetting (the pass game) going will be the difference between winning and losing, as you saw last week,â€ Greenwood said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to win. So I feel like coach Fairchild, he has to try something.â€
A new weapon for the receivers may come in the form of 6-foot-3 receiver Byron Steele.
Steele has been suspended at the start of the season for an unspecified violation of team rules, but has been practicing with the first-team offense all week. Last week he ran scout-team.
Earlier in the week Fairchild declined to comment on Steeleâ€™s status.
With Steele or not, the receiving core is planning on a much improved performance on Saturday against Utah State.
â€œWeâ€™re so much better than that,â€ freshmen Lee Clubb said. â€œThis next week weâ€™ve got a lot to prove.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the numbers