Kevin Pierre-Louis: Defense, CSU needs to “Keep pushing” to end season strong
Senior Day brings out a lot of emotions, even in rough, tough football players. The Colorado State defense used that emotion to propel themselves to a 49-35 victory Saturday night.
“Man, it was…can’t describe it was exciting,” senior safety Kevin Pierre-Louis said after the win. “Knowing you have your family in there. My mom has watched me play since little league football. It was fun, exciting, and it was emotional to know that I would never be in this stadium again it was sad.”
The Colorado State Rams (5-5, 3-3 MW) finished their home schedule with a big Mountain West win over the UNLV Rebels (3-7, 2-4 MW). And while this game was all about offense, the defense came in and made plays when they needed to.
“It means, great, in 30 years down the road I can tell my grandkids that I got a win on my senior night game,” KPL continued of the significance of the win. “It means a lot to go out with a win on your Senior Day. I know how sucky it would be if I didn’t win on this day. Knowing it’s my Senior Day and my last time at Hughes I can say I got a win at Hughes Stadium.”
This Rams team came into today with the swagger and confidence from last game, that big win over Wyoming in Laramie. On offense, CSU came out running and gunning. The defense was able to force the Rebels to punt on their first possession and continued flying to the football for 60 minutes. The Rams were relentless when coming after UNLV’s quarterbacks; as a team they got to two sacks on both senior Blake Decker and — after injuring the starter, Decker — sacked his backup Kurt Palandech, too, for a total loss of 29 yards.
“We’re playing hard,” head coach Mike Bobo said of his defense. “We’re looking more like we did those first three games defensively. After the San Diego State game, we put on some tape and basically if one guy didn’t make the tackle the guy wasn’t going to get tackled. The result was that we were having long runs and we said that’s not how defense is played.
“We don’t have to be perfect defensively,” Bobo continued. “It’s about effort, it’s about getting off a block, and it’s about chasing and playing hard. Those guys have don that the last two weeks and I think that’s the reason we’ve played better defensively.”
Last Saturday, Colorado State beat Wyoming 26-7, limiting remarkable running back Brian Hill to 65 yards rushing, his third-lowest total of the season. Tonight, while UNLV totaled 502 yards on offense, explosive plays were kept to a minimum and the Rebels were held to a low enough score to earn the win.
“They have a good offense,” Pierre-Louis said. “They are one of the hardest offenses to defend, because they so many options and so many plays. It made it a little harder but our defense came through.”
CSU has about 24 hours to enjoy this win but then they need to buckle down and prepare for a difficult ending to the 2015 season with back-to-back road games against the New Mexico Lobos (5-4, 3-2 MW) and Fresno State Bulldogs (2-7, 1-5 MW). The defense allowed UNLV to throw for 330 yards and a net of 172 yards on the ground; those numbers need to improve the next two weeks.
The Rams have been working hard during this season, looking to consistently get better, and it has definitely shown in with the defense.
“We practice every Tuesday; we practice tackling circuits, so if we get 11 hats to the ball it’s hard to give explosive plays, so that’s what we tried to do today,” explained Pierre-Louis about a difference in tackling.
That gang-tackling has been a staple the last two weeks and it’s something which must continue the rest of the season for the Rams to be successful.
Colorado State needs to work on forcing more turnovers too, and when the ball hits the turf, get to the ball. CSU forced one fumble today but couldn’t recover the ball. Getting the ball back any way possible is what the Rams must do; it can help this offense which is finally starting to click. Another thing CSU needs to improve on is reading quarterbacks’ eyes. The UNLV quarterbacks were telegraphing most of their throws and not looking down their progressions. If CSU can change these things this week, look out.
“We’re blue collar: Blue collar athletes, blue collar guys,” KPL said of his teammates and the legacy they hope to leave behind. “Man, we work hard and we’re going to do everything right.”
If these blue collar guys put the time into film study, focusing on tackling and playing hard through every whistle, I could see a bowl selection coming this team’s way.
“Keep pushing, keep on pushing,” said Pierre-Louis about what comes next for this CSU Football team.
Two games left. Keep pushing.