Football Ready For CSU Running Game

After seeing more than its fair share of unconventional no-huddle, spread offenses over the past three weeks, the Utah football team will finally again face an opponent that at least minimally subscribes to some modicum of normalcy.

Colorado State, the MWC’s preseason favorite trying to work its way out of a slump brought on by early-season instability at quarterback, should be a little more conventional than the South Florida and Wyoming teams the Utes have faced in their last two games.

“This is a little more of a power-running game, so it’s a little different concept than what we’ve seen lately,” said U coach Ron McBride. “They’re a little more downhill, less spread out.”

Not that the Utes would complain about having to face yet another gimmick offense, given that they outscored their last two opponents by a combined 87-21 margin, and, after working out the kinks versus USF, employed their knowledge of defending the no huddle to the tune of limiting a supposedly superior Cowboy team to just 150 yards of offense and 8 first downs.

Nevertheless, the U defenders are ready for a new challenge.

“Our defense is excited?We love to play smashmouth teams,” said linebacker Sheldon Deckart. “So far, there’s been no one real physical. It’ll be a great game for us to play.”

However, while the Rams may play a more conventional scheme, the Utes recognize the danger of being lulled into a false sense of security given the fairly rote gameplan CSU employs. After all, UNLV underestimated the Rams’ trickiness and paid the price for it.

A week after the stingy Rebel defense annihilated San Diego State 31-3, UNLV was victimized against Colorado State in falling prey to a couple of circus plays, including a pass from halfback Henri Childs to quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt that resulted in a 56 yard touchdown, as well as a double pass, in which Van Pelt threw to Childs, who subsequently threw a 27 yarder to H-back Joel Dreessen.

“That throw-back was a good play, that double pass was a good play. They were able to take advantage of things UNLV didn’t defend well,” McBride said. “With any team that runs the ball well, those things are going to be there. But our kids are going out well-prepared to play.”

The Utes will need to be, given the considerable improvement the Rams have made since going with Van Pelt as the full-time starter.

“You knew their quarterback position hurt them early, but once they settled on who they wanted to go with, they’ve gone back to the same old Colorado State,” McBride said.

Linebacker Brooks Bahr added that containing Van Pelt would be a huge key for the Utes.

“He’s a great runner?He’s really hard to sack,” Bahr said. “He transferred from Michigan State because they wanted to convert him to a running back.”

In addition to stopping Van Pelt, the Utes are also concerned with negating the talented receiving duo of Pete Rebstock and Dallas Davis, as well as holding the Rams’ ever dangerous return game in check.

Meanwhile, playing a CSU team that is more talented than any team Utah has faced thus far, save Oregon, will be tough enough; getting out of the confines of Rice-Eccles Stadium?where the Utes are 4-0?and playing in Fort Collins, Colo., will make it even more difficult.

“They’re a scary team and we’re going into their house. We’re going to have to play tough,” said cornerback D’Shaun Crockett.

A few other Utes are slightly less concerned, though, about the 30,000 CSU fans they’ll encounter in Hughes Stadium.

“That’s what we have to do?go on the road and win,” Bahr said. “But I don’t know if it really matters whether you’re at home or on the road, so much as if you’re prepared.”

Junior wideout Devin Houston said he even welcomed the chance to take on the Rams on their home turf.

“I like being on the road. It’s going to be fun, loud, exciting?I like the hostile crowd,” Houston said. “I think I play better when the crowd is loud, obnoxious, talking trash.”

Ultimately, though, it is not the trick plays or the scrambling quarterback or the nasty road crowd that the Utes are most focused upon, but the prospect of living up to the standards they’ve set now that they’re facing their first legitimate test of the conference season and gearing up for the stretch run at the MWC title.

“This is very important?this game will tell a lot about us,” McBride said.

“Now we get to see what we’re made of,” Bahr added.

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