CU will be watching out for the powerful Ram running game this weekend
In part two of a two-part series leading up to the Rocky Mountain Showdown versus Colorado State, The Campus Press looks at how the Buffs defense matches up with the Rams run-and-gun offense, and also what to expect from a defensive standpoint for the Buffaloes.
The defensive unit for the Buffs will need to be as equally sharp as their offensive counterparts for CU to come away with a victory.
The Rams use primarily a single-back formation with two wide receivers, a tight-end and a halfback, so look for that to continue to be their bread and butter in the showdown.
In previous years, the Rams have been able to free up their H-back with crossing and seam routes combined with play action. CSU will most likely look to establish its running game from the start and then try to throw to the H-back using fakes to the running back to draw the CU linebackers and secondary in.
“Number one thing going into the game, we want to stop their running game,” defensive coordinator Ron Collins said. “We can’t allow any huge plays, no explosion plays. If we do those two things, I think we got a shot.”
The Buffs will turn to their experienced and quick linebackers in senior Thaddeus Washington and junior Jordan Dizon to slow down the CSU rushing attack.
“They will run the ball on you,” Washington said. “They just want to set up and go, we have to be ready for that.”
CSU lost stud running back Kyle Bell for the season due to a torn ACL, but the running game and the play-action passing the Rams can create off of it still concerns Collins.
“They run the ball very, very well, and they have a great play action,” Collins said. “I think if we can get lined up, we can help ourselves out. They are a great football team at what they do, and they are very well coached.”
CSU halfback Kory Sperry had an explosive game against CU in 2005, reeling in 7 passes for 62 yards and a score. Look for senior strong safety J.J. Billingsley to shadow Sperry and try to disrupt any passes thrown his way.
Throwing those passes is CSU quarterback Caleb Hanie. He will be making his first start against CU, yet CU Head coach Dan Hawkins said Hanie is someone to watch out for.
“I really like (Hanie) a bunch. I really do,” Hawkins said. “I think he can run around. I think he’s athletic, and they use him in really good ways. We can’t let him get into any kind of rhythm.”
Washington said the defense can’t let the hype surrounding the CU-CSU rivalry affect their preparation or their mentality on game day.
“It’s for bragging rights, but at the same time, it’s a ball game,” Washington said. “You have to go out there and prepare yourself and be ready to play. That’s what you would do for any game.”