Utah State defeats Rams in defensive battle

CSU Rams football loses homecoming game to Utah State 17-13. KCSU’s Euan Peart reports.


Euan Peart, KCSU Sports

Fort Collins was the place to be on Saturday. CSU students, parents and alumni filled Canvas Stadium for the Rams’ Homecoming game against Utah State. The 35,009 raucous fans – the fourth highest Canvas Stadium turnout of all time – made their presence known every time the Aggies lined up on offense and after every penalty.

Unfortunately for the Rams football team, who entered the game 1-4, support from the crowd would not turn the tide on a close game commanded by two defenses unwilling to let many points through. The Rams would lose the game 17-13 to Utah State.

Every other game in Canvas Stadium’s history with 34,000 or more fans present had resulted in a win for CSU. This is yet another indicator of how the Rams’ subpar season has gone.

This game was decided by effort and coaching. These have both been struggles for the Rams in the early part of the season. However, on Saturday evening, the effort exhibited by the Rams football team was the main reason the Rams were able to keep themselves afloat for the majority of the game.

Proof of this effort came with the Rams winning the turnover battle, taking the ball away two times and turning both of their takeaways into field goals. More proof was also found in the Rams special teams players finding much success in the game, with a blocked punt by Dane Olson and a combined 73 return yards on three punt receptions and two kick receptions in the game.

Some may blame this game on Norvell’s coaching – which was not perfect – but on this occasion, his offensive play calling had improved compared to the last time the Rams played in Fort Collins (a 41-10 rout by the visiting Sacramento State). The Rams led both teams in time of possession for the second time this season – the first being the blowout loss against Washington State where they allowed 21 first downs and got sacked seven times.

It is likely that the improvement on offense recently came from improved play by running back Avery Morrow, who has rushed for more than 120 yards in both of the last two games, both being conference opponents. Morrow’s 27 carries against Utah State was more than the 22 total carries he had in his first four games at CSU.

Norvell has also proved himself to be an impressive defensive leader in the last couple weeks against conference opponents, with the team only allowing 31 points through those last two weeks compared to their first four matches in which their opponents averaged 41 points per game.

Though it was tough for the fans to take yet another loss on the season over homecoming weekend, there is reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season. The defense is starting to come into its own, and Norvell has shown growth and willingness to adapt while Morrow has begun to break out as a leader for this offense.

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