October 13, 2010

On the Matt: Football's improvements

While it goes without saying that the Colorado State football team has seen its fair share of struggles during the 2010 season, the Rams have started improving in some areas ... at least, that's what I think.

This week On the Matt, I'm breaking down five areas I've seen CSU start to put things together in the right way.

Protecting Pete

After freshman quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked a combined 17 times in the first four games of the season, the offensive line has really buckled down against both TCU and Air Force.

Now, officially, the Rams gave up four sacks to the Horned Frogs, but I think those numbers are off. Being a home game, I figured the stat crew would have listed two sacks at the most, because even Thomas said after the game "I don't think I got sacked any."

Being there, I would agree that four sacks did not happen, but what's done is done. The CSU front five has looked strong the past two weeks against a couple of strong defenses, and I really think part is moving Weston Richburg to center. While have a freshman snap the ball to a freshman, I can understand why Steve Fairchild was hesitant to do so, but it was worth it.

I wouldn't be surprised if CSU held UNLV without a sack this week.

That forgotten thing called running

I realize it's hard to say the Rams' ground game is improving when CSU has only had a back go over 100 yards on two occasions, but I think it needs to be said.

Once again, I see this as an improvement from the offensive line, mainly due to the fact there have been a handful of players having decent games lately, especially against Air Force - and keep in mind that the Falcons only allowed 123.5 rushing yards per game heading into last Saturday.

At the Air Force Academy, Leonard Mason (who was a complete beast, might I add), John Mosure, Derek Good, Lou Greenwood and Zac Pauga all averaged over 5.4 yards per carry. Also, Chris Nwoke almost ran for 50 yards, and it was the first time all season Thomas wasn't "in the red" when it came to rushing yards.

While TCU was obviously a setback, you can't discredit the game Raymond Carter had running the pigskin against a good Idaho team with a very veteran defense.

Things are progressing. I promise.

Turnovers:

When you only force one turnover in your first three games, that's obviously going to cause some issues. But in the last three games, CSU has forced three turnovers - two fumbles and one interception.

Of those three turnovers, the Rams have scored twice - both interceptions.

I talked to defensive coordinator Larry Kerr after Saturday's loss at Air Force and he said he likes how his unit is coming along and agreed that it's a maturation from the defense that the Rams are able to start forcing some turnovers.

CSU has to keep infecting opposing offenses with the turnover bug.

Breaking records with skewed statistics

With the CSU defense allowing so many points this season, the Rams have now broken the Mountain West Conference record for kick return yards in a single game … TWICE!

Against Air Force, junior running back, and Berthoud, Colo. native, Good got the nod to start at kick return with Mosure after freshman Tony Drake was left behind due to violating team rules.

Good set the MWC single game kick return record with 263 yards, including a 70-yard scamper he was one defender away from taking to the end zone. Good had eight returns to set the record.

Good broke the record that was previously set by Drake against Nevada, when the freshman had nine kick returns for 242 yards.

In both record setting performances, CSU allowed an average of 50 points to its opponents.

This kind of record is good for a player's accolades, but usually bad for a team.

SCREEN!

While the Rams' defense still hasn't realized that when the offensive line lets you by, it's for a reason, the CSU offense is starting to have success with the screen - both bubble and jailbreak.

Granted, the Rams have been calling the play with less frequency so it's not as predictable, but still, it's nice to see it work since the screen is obviously something Fairchild wants to see be successful.

Pauga, a senior fullback, has been a huge part in the screen's success. The big man has some moves.

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