Heading into a pivotal rivalry game, Colorado State’s offense is looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance against Minnesota.
The Rams will make the trek down to Sports Authority Field Saturday hoping they can bring a little offensive production with them.
In last week’s matchup against another Power 5 opponent in Minnesota, CSU’s offense managed only nine passing yards in the first half. Although Coleman Key had some success at quarterback after replacing Nick Stevens in the second half, he was not without his flaws either, and it appears Stevens will remain the starter.
If CSU’s offense is going to pick it up this week, both quarterbacks will have to play better. For head coach Mike Bobo, he doesn’t want his young signal callers trying to do too much.
“We don’t have to be heroic at that position,” Bobo said. “We’ve got to be able to make a routine play, we’ve got to be able to throw it in the flat and complete the guy and hit him in stride. We’ve got to hit open guys.”
Bobo also knows his quarterbacks need help and can’t do it all on their own.
“We’ve got to play better around a young quarterback,” Bobo said. “We can’t turn guys free in protection. We can’t not run the proper routes. We’ve got to make plays for those guys and they’ve got to continue to improve.”
One thing that the offense will have to improve on for sure is taking care of the ball. The Rams have a total of nine turnovers through two games.
“The only way I know how to correct that is to keep working on the fundamentals of ball security, running back to quarterback exchange and then the fundamentals of progressions in routes, and your feet telling you where to go with the ball,” Bobo said. “If you tell a guy, ‘hey we can’t turn the ball over,’ then they are afraid to pull the trigger.”
Turnovers can be unavoidable with young quarterbacks. It still needs to be corrected, but the team cannot dwell on it.
“It’s frustrating when it happens on a drive but we’ve just got to deal with it and move on, short-term memory,” junior offensive lineman Fred Zerblis said.
CU has some talent up front on the defensive side of the ball that could cause some issues Saturday, so Zerblis and company will have to be disciplined to give their quarterbacks time to operate.
“They got a lot of talent, but we’re kind of focused on all their guys,” senior offensive lineman Sam Carlson said. “We’re just going to prepare like we normally do and go out there and compete with those guys.”
Senior tight end Kivon Cartwright has similar feelings to his teammate.
“They’re just a good team,” Cartwright said. “It doesn’t matter whether we get shut out, or we put up 100 points, our preparation is the same and we’re working to get better every day. Every practice we’re working to get better on the game plan, on the details, on the little things.”
The Rams know they need to execute their game plan regardless, but they do expect the nature of the rivalry to bring them a little more energy.
“I didn’t know much about (the rivalry) from not being here but some of the older guys when I was young told me what it was about,” Zerblis said. “It’s just a battle for the state and it’s a big game for us up front, as an offense and as a team.”
Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Huebnermedia93