Rams fall to 0-4 on season in loss against Sacramento State

Due to uninspired play calling from Norvell and lackadaisical effort from the team, Rams fall to 0-4 on the season in loss against Sacramento State.

Rams fall to 0-4 on season in loss against Sacramento State

Euan Peart, KCSU Sports

On Saturday afternoon at Canvas Stadium, CSU students and fans alike were draped in orange and sat through yet another underwhelming showing from the Rams football team coached by Jay Norvell. In a 41-10 loss to the Sacramento State Hornets, the Rams looked uninspired, lost at times, and most importantly, poorly coached as they dropped to 0-4 on the season. With an abundance of soft defensive play calls, untimely rushed plays or plays designed for a short gain, the new CSU football head coach is showing a tad too much of an old-fashioned style of play calling that just does not work with the way his roster is constructed. The undisciplined play of the Rams defense did not help with the situation, as they looked unwilling or incapable of playing effective defense. The one bright spot in the game came from wide receiver Tory Horton, the only Rams player to score in Canvas Stadium other than the kicker this season. Horton played a 56-yard reception in the first quarter and a 52-yard touchdown in the second, being his second 100-plus yard game in his career.

Rams players and coaches looked confident going into the game, with a hop in their step during pregame warmups. This excitement quickly started waning, as the first drive on offense got one first down, followed by uninspired play calling and bad decision-making from Rams players, causing the team to their next three downs. This would continue for most of the first quarter until the second-to-last play ended in Horton’s 56-yard reception, sparking excitement in the stadium that the orange-out crowd had not experienced in a while. This was followed by three runs and a field goal, ending that excitement. The Rams’ only other play worthwhile of all the CSU fans who showed up was Horton’s 52-yard touchdown. Those would be the only two scores in the game for the Rams. The rest of the game was made up of 2-yard or 3-yard runs, poorly executed screens and multiple dropped passes from Rams receivers. The defense did not do anything to help either, outside of a red zone interception by defensive back Jack Howell in the second quarter.

While many would likely point blame the loss on the players’ lack of precision and effort throughout the game, it was clear to me that the majority of the faults of the team was due to Norvell’s inability to trust his players and unwillingness to play outside of his comfort zone. It was apparent that Norvell did not trust his quarterbacks to make plays downfield as the Rams ran several more rushing plays than passing ones, even though the Rams averaged 11 more yards per pass over the rush. Though it is understandable that Norvell would want to use the ground game due to the starting quarterback leaving the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury, the backup was still hitting a 127.0 quarterback rating – 34.0 above average. Similarly, the defensive failures on Saturday afternoon also fall on Norvell’s shoulders. His team ran a significant amount of zone defense that would frequently lead to errors and massive yardage for the Hornets many times in the passing game. Though one can say that a coach cannot teach effort, one could also say that a good coach can bring the best out of his players no matter how willing they are to play that day.

In order for the Rams to win their first game of the season in the coming weeks, Norvell needs to be able to shore up his play calling and the players must be able to increase their effort on both sides of the ball. Next week, the Rams will be heading down to Reno in order to face off against Nevada, which currently sits at 2-2 on the season.

KCSU Sports directors can be reached at sports@kcsufm.com