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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Rams football looks to keep the ball rolling against Nevada

Colorado+State+Universitys+Justin+Marshall+%2829%29+runs+the+ball+down+the+field+at+the+military+appreciation+game+against+San+Diego+State+University+Nov.+12.+CSU+won+22-19.
Collegian | Lauren Mascardo
Colorado State University’s Justin Marshall (29) runs the ball down the field at the military appreciation game against San Diego State University Nov. 12. CSU won 22-19.

After tallying off San Diego State on their schedule, the Colorado State football team has their eyes on next week against Nevada, their final home-game opponent of the season.

CSU needs to win the next two weeks’ games to reach six wins and qualify for a bowl game. Despite this pressure, coach Jay Norvell has been sure to tell his players to take it one week at a time.

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“What’s important now for us is to prepare like a winning football team and focus on the fundamentals,” Norvell said. “Focus on our Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday preparation, and that’s what we’re going to revert to on Saturday when we line up and compete.”

Offense

The Rams had an unpredictable star in running back Justin Marshall during their 22-19 win against SDSU. Before the matchup, he had never even seen the field or taken a collegiate snap.

Marshall made quite a statement in his debut, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first CSU freshman to rush for over 100 yards in their collegiate debut since Ron Harris in 1974.

“(I am) really proud of Justin Marshall as a true freshman,” Norvell said. “His first opportunity to play (and) having over 100 yards in his debut really is a special thing, and those explosive runs really gave us a shot in the arm.”

Ahead of their matchup against Nevada, it’s important the Rams make plays on the ground. Last week, Nevada gave up 292 yards on the ground in their 41-24 loss to Utah State.

“It’s very, very important for us to be able to run the ball well and run the ball when we have to run the ball to win games,” Norvell said. “We’re going to improve in the running game as we go on, and it’s going to be important to us, winning games. It was an important part last year when we played Nevada, and so it will be important this year as well.”

Watch: The offensive line

The Rams O-line has seen an incredible improvement since last season. The heart and soul of the offense did not let SDSU touch their quarterback, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. Not only did they give up zero sacks, but they also played an integral role in Marshall’s impressive debut by creating holes for him to make explosive plays. Keep an eye on the offensive line and what they can do to expand the offensive plays against a struggling Nevada defense.

Defense

The defensive side of the ball found nothing new for the Rams this season. CSU found their defense to be inconsistent throughout the game against SDSU. After not allowing a single point in the first half, the Rams made it a nail-biter at the end of the game, giving up 19 to the Aztecs in the second half.

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However, the defense held SDSU to only 273 yards, something they will look to repeat against Nevada.

“I think last week was a really good game for us as a team, and we played probably the most complimentary football,” defensive back Chigozie Anusiem said. “Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but the most complimentary football we have played all year, so just trying to do that again.”

Watch: Mohamed Kamara and the defensive line

Kamara tallied yet another sack last week, bringing his season total to 11.5 and inching closer to the all-time program record. He currently sits at 29 career sacks, four behind all-time sack leader Clark Haggans. Nevada’s offensive line is weak, as they are fresh off giving up four sacks to Utah State last week. Watch for Kamara to make multiple plays in this matchup against Nevada as he continues to make history in the CSU record books.

Reach Ben Fairly at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @benjaminfairly.

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