The Rams’ struggles this year have been abundant, but the most glaring frustrations have been the mediocrity of an offense that seemed equipped to torch Mountain West defenses.
Now that CSU has gotten past the juggernauts that are Utah State and Boise State, the Rams are starting to show some signs of life offensively.
Despite missing every full practice of the week with an illness, Rashard Higgins made seven catches in the 38-23 win over Air Force. Sophomore quarterback Nick Stevens had the bounce-back game he needed, completing 23 of his 30 passing attempts for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s almost a borderline cockiness you need to have to play quarterback, and I thought he carried himself in that manner all week,” Bobo said of the sophomore quarterback. “He was precise, he threw the ball and he went out and performed well.”
Jasen Oden Jr. of all people – he was essentially the third-string back when head coach Mike Bobo took over in the string – has established himself as an every-down back capable of doing all the dirty work.
“Jasen has ran physical since the second half of the first game,“ Bobo said. “… He’s 218 pounds and he’s leaning on it. … It’s hard to tackle. Sometimes they run a blitz or a stunt, and we’ve just got to fall forward for two, fall forward for three, and he’s doing a nice job of that.”
Oden isn’t exactly shy about his power running abilities.
“I like to give guys two options: you can man up and tackle, or make a business decision and whiff,” Oden Jr. said.
The senior finished with 89 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries against Air Force.
But the ball can’t always go to Oden Jr. or Higgins. This week, Stevens was able to spread the wealth as he completed passes to eight different receivers.
The sophomore quarterback has struggled at time this year, and has been replaced on multiple occasions by backup Coleman Key. This week, Bobo never had to call Key’s number, as Stevens put together the type of lights-out performance CSU fans had gotten a little too used to last season with Garrett Grayson.
“There was just something about this week that helped open my eyes and I was able to see everything happening,” Stevens said.
The win over AFA is a step in the right direction for CSU, and the Rams are hoping it will be a turning point as they have passed the halfway mark of the season.
The offense was click Saturday against the Falcons – 296 yards through the air, another 160 on the ground, and 38 points on the scoreboard. Now, the Rams will need to sustain it if they want to reach a bowl game for the third straight year.
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.