How Colorado State Football Shut Down the Defending Mountain West Champions
Saturday's conference opener for the CSU Football team was a make-or-break moment for them. How they performed against San Jose State would determine the faith many fans would have in them for the season, and whether or not they would consider the Rams a wash for 2021.
The Rams delivered, and they did it on every level in every position.
For weeks, I've been saying the biggest difference would come from the offensive line. All quarterback Todd Centeio needed was an additional second or two in the pocket to make the passes fans have been longing for.
One of the biggest disappointments from the first few games of the season was the lack of productivity in CSU's passing game. The Rams shut that down with the first play of the game being a play-action, and an efficient one at that.
Later, one of the most satisfying passes came from Centeio and fell perfectly into the hands of wide receiver Ty McCullouch. The Rams had a similar pass in their home opener against South Dakota State that was just overthrown.
The 60-yard reception was not only in the perfect spot where McCullouch didn't have to slow down or reach out for it, it also happened to be the longest pass play of Centeio's career, as well as the longest reception in McCullouch's career.
All of a sudden, Ram fans had a little life put back in them.
Not only was the offensive game strong and dominant, so was the CSU defense.
In the first few games, the Rams simply looked outmatched. They couldn't keep up with opposing receivers, couldn't make tackles, and just looked overpowered. Against San Jose State, they showed up for the challenge and shut down an incredibly athletic Spartans offense.
San Jose State junior Nick Nash is an incredibly quick and athletic quarterback, and CSU was able to keep him stuck behind the line of scrimmage more often than not.
And, yet again, kicker Cayden Camper's leg was on fire.
Again, the first few games of the 2021 season for CSU saw a lot of running with little productivity, hardly any productivity in the passing game, and a few missed field goals that could have changed the momentum of the game.
Now, it seems Camper and the rest of the Rams have settled into a groove that, if kept, could actually make them quite the force as the season progresses.
Camper set a new school record with six made field goals in a single game, which also tied the conference record in the same category. This morning (Oct. 11), he was recognized with his second Mountain West Special Teamer of the Week from the conference.
And, speaking of strong legs, all-star punter Ryan Stonehouse became the first Ram in school history to surpass 10,000 career punting yards.
Colorado State embodied the definition of firing on all cylinders.
They will take on New Mexico in Albuquerque on Saturday, Oct. 16. That game will air on the Stadium network.
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