The Ramsâ€™ football season has reached a critical juncture just four games in.
CSU (2-1, 1-0 MW) heads to Logan, Utah for a road test against Utah State (1-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday looking for a highly valued non-conference win that has the potential to change the outcome of the season.
The difference between a 3-1 or 2-2 record is huge, and the running game will be key to reaching the former.
â€œWeâ€™re ready to get after it on Saturday,â€ said running back Raymond Carter. â€œWe put the CU game behind us and weâ€™re just moving forward. We have a lot more games left.â€
If the Rams are able to move to 3-1 they will have matched their win total from all of last season in only the first four games. To make it happen the offensive unit must play with cohesion.
â€œIâ€™m still looking for a big game out of myself,â€ said quarterback Pete Thomas. â€œReceivers, running backs, everyone, I think itâ€™s coming soon.â€
Thomas said he believes that the Utah State defense will be the best the Rams have played so far this season.
Utah Stateâ€™s explosive offense cannot be taken lightly as the Rams look to avoid another letdown following the game against CU-Boulder. True freshman dual-threat quarterback Chuckie Keeton leads the teamâ€™s offensive attack. Keeton has looked impressive through the air and running the ball in his first two collegiate starts.
â€œHeâ€™s done a very, very nice job,â€ said coach Steve Fairchild. â€œFor him to be doing the things heâ€™s doing is very, very impressive.â€
The Rams will once again have to find their stride on the offensive side of the ball. CSU wants to establish the running game early in hopes things open up outside and Thomas can get his feet under him.Utah State brings a vicious rushing attack into the matchup. It is currently fourth in the nation averaging 333.5 rush yards per game, while CSU has accumulated 400 total rushing yards on the season.
â€œTheyâ€™re a very good football team from a talent standpoint,â€ Fairchild said. â€œTheyâ€™ve got guys on both sides of the ball that will play at the next level.â€
The CSU defense will have its hands full with Robert Turbin, Kerwynn Williams and Michael Smith. All three running backs have gained over 100 yards so far this season and Utah State averages 6.7 yards per carry.
â€œNo. 6 (Turbin) is very impressive,â€ Fairchild said. â€œA very physical back who can hit it in there and is hard to get down.â€
The Ramsâ€™ offense continues to struggle on third down. The Rams are 14/40 on third down conversions coming in at 35 percent. To beat Utah State that number must improve.
â€œWhenever (the running backs) get the ball we try to do everything we can to at least get the first down,â€ Carter said. â€œWe run hard every play and we try to do our part for the team.â€
The key to having success for CSU on Saturday will be winning the battle on the ground.
Football Beat Reporter Travis Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be followed on twitter at @travis_treats.