Injuries mar CSU’s victory over New Mexico

Colin Barnard

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Though Colorado State defeated New Mexico on Friday evening, they left Albuquerque with plenty of losses. 

Colorado State Wide Receiver Olabisi Johnson makes a catch over a New Mexico defender during the third quarter on Oct 20. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
Colorado State Wide Receiver Olabisi Johnson makes a catch over a New Mexico defender during the third quarter on Oct 20. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

Safety Jamal Hicks, wide receiver Olabisi Johnson and linebacker Max McDonald all came into New Mexico as starters. They also all suffered game-ending injuries Friday night.

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Defensive tackle Darnell Thompson left the game multiple times, though he returned each time. In the closing minutes of the game, cornerback Shun Johnson exited the game with an injury of his own. All of this came on top of the Rams not having wide receiver Detrich Clark, who missed the game with a shoulder injury.

With so much fluctuation throughout his team, head coach Mike Bobo voiced his concern over the injuries after the game. In particular, he brought up the real possibility that Hicks could miss extended time with a broken arm.

“It’s unfortunate, looks like (Jamal Hicks) might have a broken arm and could be out for a significant amount of time. Max (McDonald) is a contact-related head injury,” Bobo revealed. “I am concerned, but that’s part of football. The next guy stepped up. We had guys coming out there making plays, stepping up.”

Should Hicks miss an extended amount of time, the Rams will be without one of their difference makers on defense. Hicks is tied for the team lead in interceptions and ranks sixth on the team in tackles.

Colorado State Running Back Izzy Matthews runs towards the end zone during the third quarter of action in Albuquerque against the University of New Mexico. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24 to become bowl eligible.  (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
Colorado State Running Back Izzy Matthews runs towards the end zone during the third quarter of action in Albuquerque against the University of New Mexico. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24 to become bowl eligible.
(Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

Despite the abundance of injuries, the Rams overcame a late push from the Lobos, and those who replaced the usual starters were instrumental in that.

Linebacker Patrick Elsenbast, who was thrust into action in place of the injured McDonald, finished as the team’s fifth leading tackler. He also caused the only turnover of the evening when he forced New Mexico running back Richard McQuarley to fumble in the fourth quarter.

Jake Schlager received more run than usual after Hicks went out, finishing seventh on the team in tackles. Safeties Kavapele Maka and Jadon Walker were called also called upon to fill the void  

“There’s some young guys that hadn’t played a lot, and their number’s gonna be called,” Bobo said. “I have confidence that we’ll get them ready and I have confidence the other guys around them will play well.”

Throughout the season, the Rams have consistently stressed the importance of preparation on a weekly basis. Now, that may be more important than ever.

Depending on the extent of injuries suffered, the Rams will be forced to rely on second and third options at certain positions. But that is something that practice prepares them for, and something they are ready to tackle head on.

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“It’s painful, it hurts,” running back Izzy Matthews said in regards to watching his teammates get injured. “But I believe in this coaching staff, I believe in this program. When we say next guy up, everybody’s prepared. Patrick Elsenbast had to go out there, Maka had to go out there. They all played well, they played their part, they played their role. As unfortunate as it is, it doesn’t make me blink an eye because I know we have another guy next up that’s gonna come in and do the job just as well.”

Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.om or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.