CSU football puts first loss behind, looks ahead to Tulsa

The Rams have a bad taste in their mouths and they’re hungry to change it.

After a disappointing loss to in-state rival CU-Boulder at the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the Rams head to Oklahoma to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday at 5 p.m. (MT).

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“It’s a good thing,” safety Kevin Pierre-Louis said of having a shortened week to prepare for Tulsa. “We’re so hungry to play. We’ll get to go out there, play again and do well.”

With the short week, the Rams have had little time sulk after Sunday’s loss, and head coach Jim McElwain is ready to move on.

“I always look at things as ‘how do you respond,’ what’s it say about you and how do you respond,’” McElwain said at Monday’s press conference. “In this quick turnover, we need to learn but then we need to rip off the rearview mirror and go forward and put ourselves in position to go win some games and we’re going to do that.”

The last meeting between CSU (0-1) and Tulsa (0-1) came in 1998 in Fort Collins when the Rams won 34-7. The two teams have met eight times in their history, with Tulsa leading the series 4-3, however CSU has won three of the last four meetings.

Like the Rams, Tulsa is looking for its first win of the season after losing last Thursday to Bowling Green 34-7. The Golden Hurricane entered the 2013 season as the defending Conference USA Champions. The team won 11 games last season, including a win against Iowa State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

Both the CSU and Tulsa offenses struggled in their first games. Bowling Green held Tulsa to just 51 yards rushing while the Rams had seven dropped passes by the receivers and finished the game having converted only 2-of-14 third downs. Quarterback Garrett Grayson put the blame on himself during Monday’s press conference.

“It really comes down to me getting (the receivers) the ball sooner,” Grayson said. “If I hit them when they’re actually open, instead of waiting until people are around them, then they’re worried about defensive players coming in and smacking them and hitting them all over the place when they’re trying to catch the ball. If their focus is solely on catching the ball and they’re wide open when I’m supposed to be hitting them maybe the outcome was different and maybe we came out with the victory.”

The run game proved more effective for CSU as running back Kapri Bibbs scored two touchdowns and posted 70 yards on 15 carries.

Saturday’s game will test the mental strength of the team and their ability to move forward.

“Anytime you have a loss in your life of anything it’s how do you recover from it and how do you learn from it that’s really the key,” McElwain said. “This team will come back.”

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Injury Update

Wide receiver Joe Hansley, who returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown Sunday, is listed as doubtful against Tulsa.

The Rams will also likely be without their top wide receiver from last year in Charles Lovett (knee) for the second game in a row as well as running back Donnell Alexander who suffered a hand injury against CU.

An official watch party for Saturday’s game will be hosted by the athletic department at Taps Sports Bar and Grill in Fort Collins at 5 p.m. (MT).

Football Beat Reporter Katie O’Keefe can be reached at sports@collegian.com