CSU swamped by a myriad of miscues, routed by Florida

Luke Zahlmann

Colorado State football, in their second SEC matchup in as many weeks, fell prey to the University of Florida Gators on Saturday. The Rams lost 48-10.

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From their first offensive drive, the Rams looked to be outmatched by their Southern foe. A fumbled snap by sophomore punter Ryan Stonehouse set the Gators offense up early from inside the visitors’ red zone, a mistake that cost the Rams three points.

The fumble served as a foreshadowing of the afternoon as Stonehouse would later have a punt blocked and recovered in the end zone.

“We did a lot of scheme this week,” Stonehouse said. “We went a lot of ‘good on good’ this week, we used a lot of speed in practice to imitate what Florida would do. Stuff like that just sometimes happens… it wasn’t a lot of big problems… it was just small things.”

Despite their best efforts, the Rams’ defense was unable to overcome several miscues by their fellow units as both special teams and the offense turned the ball over early and often in the matchup.

Led by redshirt senior V.J. Banks, the Rams’ secondary flexed its muscle in the first quarter, holding Gators’ redshirt sophomore signal-caller Feleipe Franks without a completion. Along with the 0-6 mark, Franks also threw an interception down the middle to the aforementioned Banks.

The offense, plagued by constant pressure on redshirt senior K.J. Carta-Samuels, was solely reliant on a lackluster passing game once again. Outside of redshirt junior Preston Williams (5 catches for 49 yards) on the outside, the Rams’ offense was non-existent in the opening half.

The production that the offense was able to muster was quickly mitigated with a pair of missed field goals by redshirt senior Wyatt Bryan from 40 and 53 yards respectively. The 53-yard attempt was doomed from the start due to a wayward snap, resulting in a wide-left kick.

After starting strong on defense, the Rams began to see all three units falter.

Exemplified by a wide-open touchdown to redshirt junior Jordan Scarlett over the middle, the CSU secondary began to allow Franks to have his way. The much-maligned signal caller tallied 52 yards and a touchdown, nary an incompletion in the second quarter.

Once the lead was built, “The Swamp,” the nickname of the Gators’ football stadium, began to swallow the Rams, escalating a 6-0 lead to a 27-0 lead in a matter of only two offensive drives.

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Trailing 27-3 when they received the second-half kickoff, the Rams began to show signs of life.

The offense, haunted by the Gators’ second-ranked passing defense coming into the contest in the first half, took advantage of one of the host’s few mistakes. Wide open over the middle was freshman Trey McBride who broke a tackle and outran the Gator’s defense for a 48-yard touchdown to open the half. The catch was McBride’s first of the season.

The successful series proved to be anomalous as the offense once again went stagnant. Without a running game, CSU failed to find their rhythm, with multiple drops and hits on Carta-Samuels to add to the misery.

“We really killed ourselves tonight,” Carta-Samuels said. “I think they’re a good team but I think we just made too many mistakes and when you play a good team, you can’t make those mistakes.”

Just when the game was within reach for the Rams, the special teams gaffed once again, allowing Florida junior Freddie Swain to take a punt back 85 yards for a touchdown. The score came on the same drive as an interception return for a touchdown for the Florida defense, though the latter was called back by a defensive holding.

The return posed as yet another microcosm of the Rams’ ineptitude on special teams against the Gators. The unit finished the game with a pair of missed field goals and turnovers, resulting in 17 points for the home team.

“You can’t make that many mistakes against a good football team and expect to win,” Bobo said. “We’ve gotta clean that up… they saw something they could take advantage of.”

The 13 minutes of the final quarter served as garbage time for the two squads as the Gators continued to roll, scoring 14 more points in the rout.

The final tally served as the Rams’ third loss of the year, with a lone win to counter it. The Gators’ scoring output was their second-highest of the last three years.

The Rams will return home to Canvas Stadium to host Illinois State University next Saturday, a matchup that at the onset of the year looked to be easy. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. with the Rams adorned in their traditional orange “Ag Day” uniforms.

Collegian Sports Director Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.