Friday, November 08, 2019

2019 Ram Recap - Week 9 - Road Under(bull)dogs

That's two in a row!! One more - that's called a winning streak. It has happened before. I've got a feeling things are about to turn around for us...

The Rams entered this road contest as a 14 point underdog. I get it - the hapless Rams who have spent a majority of the season stumbling over themselves were on the road against the defending Mountain West Conference champions. Apparently, the Rams did not know that they were supposed to roll over and take the L on the way out (thanks for that saying, Coach Malone). The Rams played hard. They played together. They limited mistakes. And they left the Golden State with a much needed win.

The Positives:

  • The Rams started the game with a tenacity that we have not seen this season. The first drive was quick and beautiful - including a play action pass to a wide open Trey McBride. After making a defender look foolish, McBride rumbled 69 yards for the opening score. 
  • Patrick O'Brien played one of his better collegiate games. Despite having a bad interception (more on that later), O'Brien looked the most comfortable he has ever looked behind center. He threw for over 300 yards and tossed a couple touchdowns, including the late six-pointer to Warren Jackson that put the Rams ahead for good. 
  • The offensive line play was much improved against the Fresno front. The Bulldogs generated one sack and one QB hurry. For the whole game. That's it. The Rams can win games with that offensive protection up front.
  • The running game could have been a disaster with the announcement during the week that the Rams were losing their leading rusher for an indefinite amount of time to a suspension. Instead, Marcus McElroy (Mullen, Mullen!) decided to announce his arrival with a bang. McElroy recorded his first career 100+ yard rushing game, his first career touchdown, and showed the strength and explosion that we were promised as an underclassman. 
  • Logan Stewart singlehandedly won the turnover battle for the Rams. His two fourth quarter interceptions sealed the game for the Rams and earned him MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors. 
  • Warren Effing Jackson. Once again, Jackson was a man playing among boys. His stat line is ridiculous (9 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown), but it is not the most impressive thing about Jackson. Jackson makes this offense a completely different animal. Since his return from injury, Jackson has 392 yards receiving on 18 catches with three touchdowns. His physical stature and athletic ability make him a coverage nightmare and he has become the most dependable receiver on this Ram squad. Good luck, defensive backs. 
  • Mike Bobo has never lost a game to Fresno State. 

The Negatives: 

  • About O'Brien's interception: his lone giveaway came at a terrible time (4th quarter) in a terrible situation (a tie ball game) in a terrible location (on the Fresno 14 yard line). 
  • The start to the second half. As I have mentioned before, this coaching staff struggles to make adjustments at halftime to combat whatever the opposing team comes up with in their locker room. This game was no exception. Fresno's opening drive was too easy and resulted in 7 points. The quarter score was 14-3 in favor of the Bulldogs. If CSU wishes to turn the corner with this program, figuring out how to stop other teams from fighting back into games will be pivotal. 
  • While the offense did gain abundant yards and score abundant points, their struggles on third down cannot be ignored. They finished 6-16, failing to deal the crushing blow until late in the contest. 
  • No more negativity. A win over the defending MWC champions is worth celebrating. 

Up Next - Week 10:

The Rams have one game remaining on the schedule where they will be favored. This weekend, the Rebels of UNLV roll into Fort Collins and they are baaaaaad. With a victory against UNLV, the Rams will ride a three game winning streak into the heart of their schedule - closing out the season with games against two bitter rivals in Air Force and Wyoming and a team they have yet to beat in Boise State. A victory on Saturday gives them the slightest hope that a bowl game is possible, but it will take winning two of the following three. But the Rams have won two in a row. Win again Saturday, that's called a winning streak. It HAS happened before. I've got a feeling things are about to turn around for us...

WeekOpponentPredictionResultFlick's Picks
1Colorado (Denver)LCU 52 - CSU 311 - 0
2Western IllinoisWCSU 38 - WIU 132 - 0
3at ArkansasLUA 55 - CSU 343 - 0
4ToledoWUT 41 - CSU 353 - 1
5at Utah StateLUSU 34 - CSU 244 - 1
6San Diego StateLSDSU 24 - CSU 105 - 1
7at New MexicoWCSU 35 - UNM 216 - 1
9at Fresno StateLCSU 41 - FSU 316 - 2
12Air ForceW
13at WyomingW
14Boise StateL

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