After a tough showing against the University of Colorado to open the season, the Colorado State defense has shown improvement in the two games that followed.
On the final Ag Day at Hughes Stadium, the Colorado State (2-1) defense was faced with the task of shutting down a Northern Colorado offense that averaged 574 yards and 55.5 points heading into Saturday’s matchup.
Riding the momentum of a second half shutout of the University of Texas-San Antonio from the week before, the Rams defense started Saturday’s game against the Bears hot.
“The defense was clicking on all cylinders,” Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo said following the team’s 47-21 win over UNC. “Kept giving the offense opportunity after opportunity and the offense made the most of every opportunity.”
Colorado State’s defense looked as if they were going to give up a touchdown on the opening drive for the third straight week.
Despite the fact that the Bears began their drive on the one yard line thanks to Colorado State’s All-American punter Hayden Hunt, the Bears didn’t have much trouble moving themselves into scoring range.
With the Bears knocking on the door, Colorado State safety Braylin Scott picked off Northern Colorado quarterback Kyle Sloter’s pass in the end zone.
“That changed the momentum of the game,” Colorado State linebacker Josh Watson said.
The Rams went into the half with a comfortable 38-0 lead and their second consecutive half without allowing a point.
The third quarter was a different story. Northern Colorado’s offense came out of halftime looking like the high-powered offense they were hyped up to be.
“When we came out in the second half it was a little bit disappointing,” Colorado State linebacker Kevin Davis said. “But we picked it up towards the end there again.”
After not allowing a point on 13 consecutive drives, Colorado State’s defense allowed touchdowns on UNC’s first two drives of the second half.
“That’s not Colorado State football and at halftime I challenged them” Bobo said. “We’ve got 30 more minutes. I expect us to play hard. I expect us to play like we did in the first half.”
The Bears were threatening to score for their third time in as many tries in the fourth quarter, but were halted when Jamie Falloon’s field goal attempt rattled off the right upright.
UNC added seven more points in the final minutes of the game on Trae Rieck’s nine-yard touchdown run.
Despite giving up 21 points in the second half, the Aggies have something to build off of heading into next week’s matchup against Minnesota.
“We just gotta finish the game,” Colorado State safety Braylin Scott said. “We came out strong we just gotta come through the second half and finish the game.”
The Aggies next matchup will not be an easy one. They will meet a 2-0 Golden Gopher team that possesses the ability to score coming off a bye week.
Bobo knows that his team can’t afford to play like they did in the second half next week.
“That’s unacceptable to go through the motions in the second half like we did,” Bobo said.
Collegian assistant sports editor Colton Strickler can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @coltonstricker