Saturday, September 08, 2007

Greeley Tribune: Colorado State vs. Cal key matchups

S. Scott Rosenberg
CSU pass offense vs. Cal pass defense: CSU defensive tackle Blake Smith said the Rams offense carried the team last week, and it's arguable Caleb Hanie was the Rams' best player last weekend. Hanie passed for 229 yards before an interception ended the Rams' chances in overtime. Kory Sperry was excellent as well, leading the receivers with eight catches -- three for touchdowns -- and 103 yards. Co-offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt said the Rams also had several near misses on big gains in the passing game. Against Cal, Tennessee threw for 271 yards on 32-of-47 passing; however, they were behind for parts of the game. It won't be easy given Cal's speed, but the Rams need to maintain the positives in the air. EDGE: COLORADO STATE

CSU rush offense vs. Cal rush defense: In comparison to last season, the Rams' rushing game showed big improvement, but they would like to see another positive jump. Kyle Bell shouldered the load, taking the ball 40 times for 135 yards. The running game allowed them to hold the ball for more than 37 minutes, and that ball control could be crucial against explosive Cal. The Rams might mix it up some more, giving some carries to Michael Myers and more to Gartrell Johnson. Tennessee only was able to have 27 carries but had some success at 4.1 yards per carry, which goes down because of a sack. EDGE: COLORADO STATE

Cal pass offense vs. CSU pass defense: Despite all the disucssion of DeSean Jackson and his cohorts at the skill positions, quarterback Nate Longshore deserves an equal amount of publicity. Longshore became the starter last season and completed 19-of-28 for 241 yards, and last year he helped the Bears to the most points in the Pac-10, 32.8 per game. He became just the second Golden Bear to throw for more then 3,000 yards in a year and pcompleted better than 60 percent of his passes. Against Tennessee, Longshore connected with seven different receivers, led by seven from Lavelle Hawkins. Last week's 45 points marked the 13th in 21 homes games for Cal that the Bears eclipsed 40 points. EDGE: CALIFORNIA

Cal rush offense vs. CSU rush defense: Sure most of the recognition goes to the Golden Bears' passing offense, but they can run the ball as well. In their opener against Tennessee, the Bears resolved to run the ball from the start and were successful in doing so. Justin Forsett powered to 156 yards on 26 carries. That marked the fourth time Forsett carried the ball at least 15 times, and he has had at least 156 in those four games. His highest output came Sept. 23, 2005, when he compiled 235 yards on 31 carries. Last week Cal averaged 6.2 yards per carry. CSU, aside from Colorado's early possessions, did a respectable job against the run, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. EDGE: CALIFORNIA

Special teams: The Rams expect to be improved on their coverage teams, which allowed Colorado to seize critical field position at the end of the first and second halves. Those long returns allowed the Buffaloes to score field goals with time running out. Jackson provided the most memorable moment so far in this college football season with his brilliant punt return against Tennessee. The Rams have said they don't intend to punt to Jackson, but if he gets his hands on a ball, he could have his seventh return for a touchdown in no time at all. EDGE: CALIFORNIA

Intangibles: On the victorious post-game podium at the Holiday Bowl last season, Jackson declared his team had what it takes to win a national championship this season. Thus far, they're off to a good start. The Golden Bears have the national ranking and attention and, perhaps most important, a swagger that they're not going to lose this year. Until someone knocks Cal off its perch, it has the potential to keep rolling. The Rams won the teams' only meeting in 2003. Meanwhile, although they are convinced they are a confident team, the Rams haven't won since Oct. 7. EDGE: CALIFORNIA

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