Herz: Lack of preparation evident in every phase of CSU’s game

Eddie Herz

If the first two games of the season tell viewers anything, it’s that CSU has simply lacked preparation from both a playing and coaching standpoint.

Coming off of last season, it seemed almost impossible that the defense could get any worse. After all, the thought was that bringing in a new defensive coordinator and implementing a new scheme would at least result in slight improvements.

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CSU’s defensive personnel seemed confident it would. 

Whether John Jancek ends up turning CSU’s defense around or not, the Rams have gotten off to one of the ugliest starts in recent memory. First, the University of Hawaii’s Cole Mcdonald, in his first career start, manhandled the Rams.

Against the University of Colorado, the defensive performance was even worse. The Buffaloes displayed the talent and size gap between the Pac-12 and the Mountain West from the start. CU had their way all game long.

Junior quarterback Steven Montez began the game by leading the Buffaloes on a 75-yard scoring drive that took only five plays and 1:24. Montez immediately exploited CSU’s concerns from last week by rushing for a 38-yard touchdown. Montez also went on to complete his first 12 passes in the game.

The defense once again looked baffled. The Buffaloes do carry an athletic advantage, but, leaving players absolutely wide open, missing assignments and missing multiple tackles on a play is inexcusable from a coaching standpoint.

All of those things happened time and time again in the 2018 Rocky Mountain Showdown.

V.J. Banks getting burned down the field by CU receiver K.D. Nixon exemplified CSU’s defensive performance. The play resulted in an easy 46-yard touchdown. Shortly after, Lavis Shenault’s 89-yard touchdown reception, in which he was barely touched, concluded the game.

Overall, the Rams have allowed 1,213 yards of total offense through two games.

Plain and simple, the defense has been atrocious. Anyone who has watched either of CSU’s first two games is aware of that. However, it’s worth noting that the Rams’ coaching hasn’t looked great either. The questionable coaching has been reflected on the offensive side of the ball as well.

Despite getting in a hole early against the Buffaloes, CSU was hesitant to be aggressive on offense. Every time Preston Williams caught the ball in the first half, CU had trouble tackling him. When that is recognized, why not frequently look for him down the field?

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The Rams maintained a conservative offense, as if they were in a close game, even though they were down by multiple scores for the whole first half against the Buffaloes.

The questionable play-calling was clear when CSU began a drive at their own one-yard-line after a pinpoint punt by CU. Down 28-7, instead of trying to work down the field late in the half, the Rams ran three-consecutive run plays. The result was a total of four yards, followed by a punt.

A few minutes later, cornerback Rashad Ajayi forced a fumble to give CSU the ball right back. Still trailing 28-7 with a little over a minute till halftime, the Rams looked poised to gain momentum. K.J. Carta-Samuels proceeded to throw multiple short passes. CSU ended up settling for a 51-yard field goal, an insignificant feat given the deficit. 

The coaching mistakes against Hawaii were visible as well. In the midst of CSU’s late comeback, coach Mike Bobo made the decision to go for a two-point conversion, down 17 with eight seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Rams initially sent their offense back on the field for the two-point conversion attempt but then called a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. With time to think the decision over, CSU still went for it, failing to convert.

After the game, Bobo took full responsibility and said it was a “dumb” decision.

CSU looks out of sorts in just about every way possible. And in terms of the defense, it does not appear they have made any major adjustments.

Having Bobo back on the sidelines to call plays will certainly help the team overall. But, that does not mean it will help the defensive woes.

The Rams have an uphill battle ahead of them to avoid starting the season 0-4 with Arkansas and Florida up next.

Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.