Rams Football Schedule
|@ Colorado||Sun 09/06||W 23 - 17|
|Weber St.||Sat 09/12||W 24 - 23|
|Nevada||Sat 09/19||W 35 - 20|
|@ BYU||Sat 09/26||L 23 - 42|
|@ Idaho||Sat 10/03||L 29 - 31|
|Utah||Sat 10/10||L 17 - 24|
|@ TCU||Sat 10/17||L 6 - 44|
|San Diego St.||Sat 10/24||L 28 - 42|
|Air Force||Sat 10/31||L 16 - 34|
|@ UNLV||Sat 11/07||L 16 - 35|
|@ New Mexico||Sat 11/21||L 27 - 29|
|Wyoming||Fri 11/27||L 16 - 17|
Its not hard to see where the CSU Rams season went sour. After the road game at BYU the Rams took a step back but not many expected them to beat the Cougars on the road anyways. CSU jumped out to a 20-7 lead at Idaho, with a ten point lead at half the Rams looked in charge. Two minutes and change into the second half the Rams started a slide that would take them to the bottom of the MWC and did so in ugly heart breaking fashion. Catch more after the jump...
The Rams blew double digit leads in the second half 3 times and lead in every game except BYU, UNLV, and Air Force. That's right they lead in a game they lost 44-6 at TCU. The team was massively outscored in the second half of games. Below is a chart that I did mid season, here are the updated final numbers.
(CSU - Opponent)
(CSU - Opponent)
|Result, 2nd Half margin, Lead|
|Colorado||20 - 3||3 - 14||W (23-17) -11, Biggest Lead 17|
|Weber State||17 - 20||7 - 3||W (24-23) +4, Biggest Lead 11|
|Nevada||14 - 0||21 - 20||W (35-20) +1, Biggest Lead 29|
|BYU||7 - 21||16 - 21||L (23-42) -5, No lead|
|Idaho||20 - 10||9 - 21 *Blown 13 pt lead||L (29-31) -11, Biggest Lead 13|
|Utah||3 - 3||14 - 21 *Blown 14 pt lead||L (17-24) -7, Biggest Lead 14|
|TCU||6 - 17 *Blown 6pt lead||0 - 27||L (6-44) -27, Biggest Lead 6|
|SDSU||21 - 7||7 - 35 *Blown 14 pt lead||L (28-42) - 27, Biggest Lead 14|
|Air Force||10 -17||6 - 17||L (16-34) - 11, No Lead
|UNLV||7 - 14||9 - 21||L (16-35) -12, No Lead
|New Mexico||14 - 17||13 - 12 *Blown 4pt lead
||L (27-29) +1, Biggest Lead 4|
|Wyoming||6 - 7 *Blown 6 pt lead||10 - 10||L (16-17) 0, Biggest Lead 6|
|Totals||145 - 136 Advantage Rams||115 - 222 Advantage Opp.||(3-9), -107, Six Blown Leads|
That is awful as they only beat three teams in the second half all year long, by a combined 6 points. For arguments sake lets say the Rams only blew half the games they led in, they are a 6 win bowl team. Let's say they only blow single digit leads keeping all double digit 2nd half leads, they are bowl bound. If your looking for any glimmer of hope they did lead in 9 of 12 games. No small feat as bowl game winners Wyoming lead in 9 of 13 games, Air Force lead in 10 of their 13 games. The Rams are right on par with that, except they were masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Rams had lots of issues contributing to these losses, some out of the Rams control some of them are directly the Rams fault. Injuries were a big reason and I am going to try not to lean on it as a crutch through the review as Steve Fairchild put all the players on the roster and I am sure he never used it as an excuse. Having said that there were times when I was at the game not knowing what freshly pulled redshirt freshman was starting at a critical position. There was a three week stretch where the Rams lost a player each week for the season. Now lets look at the offense and where they fell short.
Steve Fairchild's offense revolves around the quarterback. He goes deep to stretch the defense so the running game has room, simply put. People tried to claim the loss of Gartrell Johnson was the reason the Rams couldn't get points on the board. I don't buy it as Leonard Mason and John Mosure both averaged around 5 yards per carry, Johnson right there at 5.3 he simply just averaged 6-9 more attempts a game to get his bigger yards. The offensive line was even better this year then last according to most so the only change was at signal caller.
Grant Stucker won the job by default as Jon Eastman didn't impress early and Klay Kubiak seems to live on an operating table. Stucker played well early but teams scouted him and found him out fast as he had ten TD passes through 5 games and finished with 12 on the year. His yards/attempt is looked like a confidence meter that the coaches had in him. Starting out high at 12.2, 8.8, and 8.2 through the first three games. Slipping to 5.3, 4.9, and even 3.9 yards an attempt later in the year. At 3.9 yards and attempt he would need to complete 75% of his passes to just get a first down. His percentage % didn't get better as his attempts got closer. Simply put Grant Stucker wasn't the guy for the job and Fairchild had no other place to go to run his offense. Jon Eastman completed 62% of his passes but Fairchild rarely let him go deep with the ball. Don't blame the receivers, running backs, or offensive line as the blame this season came down to not having the right QB to run Steve Fairchild's passing dependent offense.
The defense was pretty awful, their pass defense especially. Teams could come back at will because the Rams were easy to beat with the pass. Rams opponents connected on 63.6% of their passes, making them look like top twenty QB's every week. The defensive line didn't get enough penetration and the corners rarely looked for the ball once it went up. For a defense that was a turnover machine early getting ten in the first three games they only managed 19 on the season. I think turnovers start with your defensive line getting pressure and causing havoc in the backfield which happened inconsistently leaving the secondary and backers to defend for themselves.
I want to point to scheme here as the big issue over skill level. The Rams seemed to play a soft zone, by soft I mean they gave up the first down every time. I am going to guess they ran the zone about 80% of the time and it allowed teams to come charging back into games and never slow down. SDSU Ryan Lindley threw for 6 touchdowns and 459 yards, that was better then any game by Taylor Potts, Jimmy Clausen, Ryan Mallett, or Max Hall this year. Not good. The scheme and coverage are the big time issues here. The injuries didn't help but the skill and scheme were lacking in a secondary that couldn't mesh all year long.
Here are some Rams leaders in order.
Passing Leaders: WR Dion Morton 88 yards, 2 TD, 100% completion. That is only kind of a joke... sadly.
Grant Stucker 1874 yards, 12TD 12 INT, 52.8% comp.
Jon Eastman 494 yards, 2TD 3INT, 62.3% comp.
Rushing Leaders: Leonard Mason 766 yards, 4.91 yards per carry, 2 TD
John Mosure 650 yards, 5.25 yards per carry, 7 TD
Lou Greenwood 147 yards, 3.5 yards per carry, 2 TD
Recieving Leaders: Rashaun Greer, 734 yards, 49 catches, 0 TD, 47drops That's only kind of a joke again... sadly.
Dion Morton, 428 yards, 24 catches, 4 TD
Tackle Leaders: Mychal Sisson 91 tackles
Elijah-Blu Smith 74 tackles
Nick Oppenneer 63 tackles. What is a CB doing getting 3rd in tackles? Oh ya, chasing down receivers in a weak zone scheme.
Sack Leaders: Mychal Sisson 5 sacks
Chris Gipson 3 sacks
Interception Leaders: Nick Oppenneer 4 INTs
Elijah-Blu Smith 3 (All in the first 3 games)
All doom and gloom in Fort Fun next year? Not exactly. The team overachieved in their 7 win 2008 but also underachieved in 2009. The will lose most of their offensive line but other then that they look to get better or stay on par everywhere else. On defense they lose Oppenneer, Klint Kubiak(who had only played 14 games in 3 years due to injury), James Morehead. That is only three starters to a team that is hoping to return stud Ricky Brewer to a LB corps that is starting to look dangerous with Brewer, Sisson, and Gipson/Alex Williams. On the line they lose Morehead but he is replaceable and they return Guy Miller, CJ James, and Cory Macon as their core players. Defensive line is one area Fairchild seems to value in recruiting so its just a matter of time before they get a few solid pass rushers and run stoppers. In the secondary the lose their best corner but it is not a huge loss . They have a good corps of athletic players that just need to figure it out. Maybe no gain in the secondary but no big loss either. Overall the defense wasn't good in 2009 but they should improve in 2010 by a small but noticeable amount.
On offense is where things are looking exciting. They get killed on the offensive line as 4 starters leave. The talent will drop but how much is the key. I think they can patch it together next year and have an average offensive line as injuries gave younger guys some experience. The Rams were without their best lineman for 5 games and it didn't seem to drop the production level immensely. The wide receivers could take a hit as Morton and Greer leave, but Morton had only 24 catches and Greer had more drops then touchdowns by at least double digits. Both were talented but unproductive this year. Tyson Liggett, Byron Steele, Marquise Law and T.J. Borcky should get starting looks. At an athletic 6-3, 212lbs Steele could break out next year. The backfield is where this team will take leaps and bounds. At running back they keep Lou Greenwood and Leonard Mason. The big additions are Chris Nwoke and Raymond Carter. Nwoke was red-shirted and impressed all the coaches with his powerful running style at 6-0 208. Carter is a transfer from UCLA and a former 4 star recruit. Speaking of 4 star recruits the Rams just inked Pete Thomas out of California. He is by far the best QB recruit the Rams have gotten in years and if he doesn't start immediately he should get 2-3 years of playing time under Fairchild. Fairchild must be ecstatic about getting Thomas as they lack a QB that really fits into his system. Eastman's deep ball left something to be desired and Nico Rainieri is more of a running QB. If Klay Kubiak ever gets healthy he might be the starter but Thomas is the future of the Rams it appears.