Saturday, September 08, 2007

Greeley Tribune: Rams Must Start Quick to Threaten Cal

S. Scott Rosenberg
FORT COLLINS -- Not long had past before Colorado State trailed in its opener.With 12 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first quarter, Colorado finished off its opening drive for a 7-0 lead. About 7 1/2 minutes later, the Buffs scored the second touchdown. After the quick touchdowns, the Rams' defense settled down.Entering their second game, the Rams face the formidable offense of 10th-ranked California, and consequently, starting strong represents a paramount focus for the game at noon today at Hughes Stadium."We definitely have to come out playing, have to start fast," CSU cornerback Joey Rucks said. "Even though it's hard, we have to try to play perfect as far as assignments and things like that. It's hard to do, but that's the key thing that hurt us last week. With as many things as they were doing last week, it was just assignments missed."To rectify the problem, the Rams have emphasized tempo in practice and maintaining a high one throughout the week."We got to go start to finish in practice as fast as we can play, the highest of tempo we can play," CSU defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said. "If you come out for practice slow, it kind of becomes part of the routine."Stanard said playing consistently -- and limiting the mistakes that plagued them against Colorado -- represent another top goal.A slow start could mean trouble given all of Cal's speedy skill players. DeSean Jackson is a Heisman Trophy candidate at receiver and returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown last week, but even he recognized the plethora of burners along side."We have some big-play dudes on our team," Jackson said.Running back Justin Forsett accounted for 205 total yards, Lavelle Hawkins led the Bears in receiving with 90 yards while being listed behind Robert Jordan on the depth chart. The Bears finished with 471 total yards."I didn't really see a weakness on film," senior defensive tackle Blake Smith said. "They look great. Their o-line is tough. Quarterback is extremely tough, really scrappy. They don't stop playing by any means."Smith, however, added he was impressed with how the Rams' offense performed in the opener. Caleb Hanie was 20-of-27 for 229 yards and three touchdowns, and Kyle Bell ran 40 times for 135 yards.Rucks hasn't stressed about speed burning him given the receivers he faces every day."(I) guarantee we've got just as good of receivers as anybody else, so I'm not worried about them, not focusing on them," he said. "I'm focusing on my job, executing what I'm supposed to do."The Golden Bears scored 31 in the first half, including 14 in the first half. CSU coach Sonny Lubick said their skill players dominated Tennessee."The speed would be a concern, try to keep them from hitting a crease, and that's hard to do after 70 or 80 plays," Lubick said. "When they hit a crease, a small crease, it could be a 50-yard gain. Some other people hit the crease, it could be a 6- or 7-yard gain."

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