Rams Left Searching After Border War Debacle
*This article was republished with permission from The Collegian, the student newspaper at Colorado State University, a part of the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corp.
By: Eric Wolf
In his post game press conference after Colorado State’s 38-17 loss to Wyoming, coach Mike Bobo said that anytime you lose, you take a step backward.
He may have said that after Saturday’s loss, but by the way he reacted after the team’s loss to Minnesota the week before, it did not seem that this team was moving in the wrong direction.
Bobo said he had seen his team improve every week leading up to the Minnesota game, and even in that game itself. If anything, the coach finally thought his team was getting close to where he wanted them to be.
And then the Cowboys came into Hughes Stadium and effectively made any signs of progress obsolete.
Wide receiver Robert Ruiz bluntly summed up the game for the Rams.
“We got hit in the mouth. That’s it. That’s the best way I can describe it,” Ruiz said.
This team did get hit in the mouth, and they had no answer for the punches Wyoming was throwing at them. Last week, the Rams found themselves down early and often, but they continually found a way back into the game.
This week, Wyoming stunned the Rams with 14 quick points off of CSU turnovers, and the team had no way to respond. There would be no crawling back in this game.
“We got whipped in all three areas,” Bobo said. “Special teams, offense and defense.”
Yes, even in special teams. Like in the punting game, an area where the Rams seemingly held every advantage. Two spectacular special teams plays from Wyoming downed Ethan Wood punts at the CSU 1-yard line, while CSU’s Hayden Hunt shanked a 14-yard punt in the third quarter that ended up leading to a Wyoming touchdown. It was that kind of night for the Rams.
The most frustrating aspect for this team could have been what stud running back Brian Hill and the Wyoming running game was able to do against this Rams’ defense. After missing at least 20 tackles last week in Minnesota, the defensive emphasis all week was to lock down Hill and the Cowboys rushing attack.
But when the Cowboys lined up and continually fed Hill and senior Shaun Wick, the Rams were left grasping at air. By the time it was all said and done, Wyoming had picked up 269 yards on the ground, with Hill responsible for 166 on his own.
Even though Wyoming’s 14 points off of turnovers might have put this defense in a hole early, it was a hole that the Rams had plenty of time to dig themselves out of. But the hold just kept getting deeper.
CSU has now been handled easily by their two biggest rivals this season by a margin of 82-24. Saturday night’s game may not have been like the listless offensive performance that CSU put up against Colorado, when quarterbacks Nick Stevens and Faton Bauta combined to go 12-29 passing for 63 yards, but it still was not nearly good enough.
“We moved the ball, you could look at hey, we got yards, but the bottom line is getting points,” Bobo said. “It’s executing, and we are not executing at a high enough level.”
The Rams out gained the Cowboys 481-434, and Quarterback Collin Hill threw for 370 yards on 23-41 passing, but the team only had 17 points to show for it.
The biggest problem? For much of Saturday night’s game, the Rams simply could not get out of their own way.
“Every time, every loss,” Ruiz said about the team shooting itself in the foot. “Every loss we look at the film and see how many touchdowns we left on the field by our own.”
Whether it was a Marvin Kinsey fumble, Hill’s interception, dropped balls from the receiving corp, or missed field goals, when this team had opportunities to score points, it could not execute.
Last week, the team left plenty of points and opportunities on the field in the 31-24 loss to Minnesota, but that was against a Big Ten opponent in a hostile environment, in a game in which the team fought until the very end.
This was the Border War at home, and the same kind of response was not there on Saturday night.
This team wanted a chance to start conference play off the right way, but now, it looks like a team still trying to find its way five games into this season.
With Utah State and Boise State coming up in the next two weeks, the search will be expedited.
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5