Rams locking in mentally for Air Force rivalry

Geoff Huebner

Coming off of two conference losses, Saturday’s game at Hughes Stadium against the Air Force Falcons (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West) is pivotal for the Rams (2-4, 0-2 MW).

The Falcons are unblemished thus far in conference play, but have gone 0-2 on the road this season. If the Rams can make that three straight road losses this season and get their first conference win, they still have a chance to resurrect the season.

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“We’re not getting the results we want right now but we know that coach (Coach Mike) Bobo’s plan is going to work and we plan on running the tables these last six games,” senior running back Jasen Oden, Jr. said.

Air Force leads the series overall, 32-20-1, and have won eight of the last nine matchups. The opportunity Saturday to turn the season around and get another tally in the win column has the Rams players mentally locked in for the opportunity.

One of those players is quarterback Nick Stevens, who Bobo indicated will remain the starter at quarterback.

“Nick has great mental preparations,” senior offensive lineman Sam Carlson said. “(Nick Stevens and Coleman Key) are both great quarterbacks and they both have the things that kind of set them apart, but in my opinion Nick has great mental preparation.”

Stevens knows this is a big opportunity. He wants to be a part of the team that puts and end to the Falcons’ recent domination in the series.

“There’s a little something extra this week because they are an in state rival, it’s a conference game, and they have had the upper hand recently and that just puts a little more on this game,” Stevens said.

Stevens splits time with redshirt freshman Coleman Key and is happy to do so when it works out for the team, but he would of course like to establish himself as the full-time starter.

“I think I’ve just come out this week and I’m just trying to give them what they are looking for from me,” Stevens said. “I’ve just been more confident this week. I think this has been my best week of practice so far.”

Bobo has made it clear this season that the players around his young quarterbacks need to help them out too. A big one of these players – both literally and figuratively – is six-foot-four, 245-pound senior tight end Kivon Cartwright.

“It’s the guys around the quarterback that have to do our job every play … it doesn’t matter what play is called, what personnel we have, who is in, we’ve just got to execute,” Cartwright said.

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The tight end’s size and athleticism make him a constant threat to defenses. He’s one of the playmakers Bobo would like to see become more involved in the offense. Stevens also had plenty to say on the Pueblo, Colorado native’s athletic ability.

“He’s also a huge target, got a big wingspan, he can go up and get a ball if it’s not a perfect ball or if you put it up for him,” Stevens said. “He’s going to bring it down.”

Both quarterbacks for the Rams have had their struggles at times this season, but their teammates say they still believe in them.

Just ask Cartwright; is there any doubt in the two quarterbacks?

“No, never, we’ve just got to keep on doing what we’re doing, but there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind,” Cartwright said.

Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Huebnermedia93.