On the first offensive series for Colorado State, QB Todd Centeio drove the Rams on an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. From there on out, the Rams would keep pulling away in a long hard day for the Spartans.
Off a shanked Ram punt, the Spartan offense managed one notable 2-play, 50-yard scoring drive late in the second quarter when tight-end Derrick Deese Jr. caught a 18-yard touchdown pass from Spartan QB Nick Nash.
Surprisingly, that would be it for any Spartan offense until late in the fourth quarter when Nash connected with receiver Isaiah Hamilton for a 32-yard TD pass making the final score 34-14 in the loss.
Under Nash’s 154 yards passing (11-22), two TD tosses, an interception, and a fumble was a gutsy and admirable performance, as he also ran hard for his life with his 11 carries and 38 yards on the ground.
But overall for San Jose State, it was a woeful offensive performance. The Spartans tallied 267 yards (113 yards on the ground).
In contrast, the Rams about doubled the offensive output of the Spartans. Centeio threw for 232 yards on 19-23 with one TD pass. A’Jon Vivens ran for 114 yards on 31 carries.
In the most basic things about football, the Spartans after six games are still troubled by turnovers and penalties this season.
1) The Spartans were penalized for 73 yards on eight penalties nearly matching their per game penalty average this season.
2) Three Spartan turnovers doused all signs of any momentum. Nash’s interception in the first quarter killed a six-minute, 7-play drive. The Rams turned it into a field goal for a 10-0 first quarter lead. Shamar Garrett’s fumble off a punt gave the ball back that led to another Rams’ field goal for a 16-7 halftime lead.
The third Spartan turnover late in the fourth quarter came off an unblocked Ram defender forcing a Nash fumble at the San Jose State eight-yard line leading to another Ram field goal.
A hidden star of the game was Ram kicker Cayden Camper. Camper hit six field goals with the longest at 53-yards.
3) Another possible troubling sign is what wasn’t happening on Nash scrambles. Left to his own devices, Nash wasn’t finding receivers breaking off routes or coming back to give him more options, which often times looked to be the case.
Against San Diego State next week, it’s a very high chance the Spartans won’t be able to run at all given the Aztecs are among the top in the nation stopping it – meaning, the Spartans need all kinds of options in the air.
It’s always difficult to find positive signs, but if we dig a little, it’s there.
What led to Camper’s six field goals was a still amped Spartan defense bending and bowing and not allowing the Rams to see the end zone as much as they could have.
Safety Jay Lenard’s 13 tackles along with his cohort Tre Jenkins were enforcers coming in hot and heavy throughout the game. They’ll certainly need to rally the troops against the Aztecs on another short week.
With the Rams running the ball over 50 times, the Aztecs have even more capable backs that will come at the Spartans.
The Aztecs also have some extra incentive after last year’s home loss in Los Angeles that saw Nick Nash lead the Spartans to a win.
As the Spartans face 25th ranked San Diego State next Friday, expect fireworks one way or the other.