Rams football aims for first-time Boise State takedown

Jeremiah Janzen

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(Graphic Illustration by Alyson Serio | The Collegian)

Colorado State Rams football will look to get things back on track Saturday night at Canvas Stadium, as they host the Boise State University Broncos in a Mountain West Conference matchup.

The Rams are coming off a heartbreaking 26-24 loss to Utah State University, a game in which special teams and coaching blunders late in each half cost the Rams a victory. Boise State, who has been to four straight Mountain West Conference championship games, is coming off of an open week. The Broncos last played a game on Oct. 16, falling to the United States Air Force Academy 24-17.

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History favors the visitors in this contest, as Boise State is unbeaten in their 10 outings against Colorado State. Since joining the Mountain West in 2011, the Broncos boast a 13-1 record coming off of open weeks. They have also won their last 12 conference road games.

(Scott) Matlock was an All-Mountain West honorable mention and Phil Steele All-American. They’re big and strong up front stopping the run.” –Steve Addazio, head coach

Despite their devastating loss last week, Steve Addazio believes his team is ready for another challenge matchup.

“Any time you can make a statement that we’ve never beat them, that tells you how large a challenge that really is,” Addazio said at his Monday press conference.  “We’re looking forward to this challenge; we respect the challenge for sure. We’re certainly glad to be home.”

Key factors

One factor is: Run, run and run some more.

Boise State defensive linemen Scott Matlock and Isaiah Bagnah have impressed this season, with the duo combining for 11 sacks on the year. Matlock is currently riding CSU’s Scott Patchan tail for solo sacks in the Mountain West, Matlock with six and Patchan with seven. 

“Matlock was an All-Mountain West honorable mention and Phil Steele All-American,” Addazio said. “They’re big and strong up front stopping the run. I think well put together, I think this is without question the most talented team, next to Iowa, that we have seen, for sure.”

Despite the impressive numbers from Matlock and Bagnah, Boise State has actually struggled to stop the run this season. The Broncos have allowed over 100 rushing yards in each of their seven contests this season. Furthermore, they have allowed over 200 yards on the ground in four of their seven games, including giving up 307 rushing yards against Air Force in their most recent outing.

Thankfully for the Rams, this means workhorse running back David Bailey is poised to wreak havoc against a vulnerable Broncos rush defense. Bailey ran the ball a whopping 30 times for 159 yards in the Rams last outing against Utah State and has found the end zone four times in his last two games. Look for Addazio to continue to lean heavily on the run game in this contest, as the Rams currently rank second in the conference for rush attempts, amassing 320 carries as a unit this season.

Another key factor involves coaching and special teams.

Last week against Utah State, Todd Centeio led the Rams on a last-minute drive to put the Rams in position to win the game. Instead of allowing Centeio to spike the ball and stop the game clock, the field goal unit hurried onto the field as time continued to run off the clock. The decision resulted in a rushed missed field goal attempt by Cayden Camper and ultimately cost the Rams the game.

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Addazio faced criticism after the contest for both his refusal to use timeouts in the first half, as well as the coach initially blaming his players for the late game mishap. By the time Monday’s press conference came, Addazio changed his tune and acknowledged his role regarding last week’s catastrophe.

“It’s my responsibility to make sure that our execution, our operation — everything’s intact,” Addazio said. “That did not happen. That’s something that we have addressed, worked on and got corrected. Obviously we needed more sideline constraint, and that’s been addressed. … When there’s an error, that’s an error on the coach. That error was on me. I’m responsible for that.”

Hopefully these issues have indeed been addressed, as special teams mistakes have plagued the Rams as of late. A pooch kick that was recovered by Utah State late in the second quarter led to the Aggies successfully kicking a field goal before half’s end.

While this may seem minor in the scheme of things, the fact that Colorado State lost by two points proves how crucial these plays can be. The Rams also allowed a punt return for a touchdown in their victory over the University of New Mexico. These are the types of plays and coaching mistakes that simply can’t happen if Colorado State wants to compete with a powerhouse program like Boise State.

Saturday’s contest has a 5 p.m. start time at Canvas Stadium. The matchup will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Reach Jeremiah Janzen at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @JeremiahJanzen.