Despite disappointing overtime performances, CSU football is fine

Sam Lounsberry

After a second consecutive loss in overtime, one of which came to rival CU Buffaloes, some CSU football fans may think it is time to abandon hope for the season.

So far, it seems the Rams are not so clutch in end-of-game situations, the starting quarterback seems to play like the sophomore that he is and the rest of the offense is still adjusting to Mike Bobo in his first year as a head coach.
 
The fans with this outlook are wrong.
 
CSU’s football team looks just fine, and it is far from time to worry about this season’s well-being. If it hadn’t been for a poorly-timed fumble in overtime against Minnesota and a blocked field goal in overtime versus CU, the Rams would be 3-0 right now with two wins over Power-5 Conference schools.
 
It feels awful for Ram fans when the Rocky Mountain Showdown ends in the Buffs’ favor — especially when it’s likely to be one of the last football games between these rival schools for a while after 2020. But the result against the Buffs never makes or breaks CSU’s season.
 
The Rams have a lot more to play for, such as a Mountain West title they could easily attain by tightening some screws on offense and special teams. No, I really don’t think it’s too crazy to think this team could win the conference this year, despite their only current win coming over Savannah State. These Rams have shown us some things to look forward to, and I don’t mean look forward to for next season. I mean next week.
 
Nick Stevens threw a crucial pick-six against CU that essentially gave the Buffs the lead they needed to outlast the Rams. But this is a quarterback who has shown signs of great potential for growth, as those close to the team know. He threw a pick-six that CU linebacker Kevin Olugbode made an incredible play on to catch, then shook it off immediately like a poised quarterback should and led the Rams right back down to tie the game at 24.
 
Don’t forget about Stevens’ backup, Coleman Key. This guy is also a completely viable option as quarterback, making the fact that Stevens is playing over him proof that he’s solid.
 
CSU even being in the game — and leading most of the way — against Minnesota was impressive. The Rams were coming off a cupcake game against Savannah State and the Gophers were coming off a fight to the finish against the No. 2 team in the country in TCU. No one picked the Rams to win, yet they put themselves in a position to, even with their backup QB at the helm.
 
Minnesota made a heck of a drive to take a 20-17 lead over CSU with under a minute to go, and it looked over. No one expected the second-string redshirt freshman quarterback to lead CSU to a last-second field goal to tie the game.
 
If game-tying drives following a pick-six and a go-ahead touchdown aren’t clutch, I have no idea what is.
 
While CSU’s offense still has some minor kinks to work out and mistakes to eliminate, CSU’s defense has given fans plenty to be excited about. Through three games last year, CSU opponents racked up 1,430 yards of total offense. Compare that to the 991 yards it has given up through three games this season.
 
Only two huge plays have been given up by this D: the pass interference call that kept Minnesota’s go-ahead drive alive and the 60-yard Sefo Liufau second-quarter TD pass against CU.
 
Once this offense can execute at the speed Mike Bobo wants it to and gives the defense just a little bit more help, CSU will be dangerous in the Mountain West.
 
Plus, how in the world can you expect the Rams to beat the Buffs when game day starts off with as bad an omen as Cam the Ram’s death? Anything can happen in a rivalry game, and this time was just CU’s turn.
 
Fear not, Ram fans. Now that the young ram donning the name Cam has a game under his belt, he’ll lead CSU to a big victory over Texas-San Antonio this week.
 
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.