Colorado State Drops to 1-4 after Loss to Illinois State

Written by Paul Fritz

Fort Collins, CO – Colorado State honored their agriculture roots with the annual “Ag Day” this Saturday, in which the team features a bright pumpkin-orange uniform. While the jerseys themselves were a nice change of pace for fans, they, unfortunately, turned out to be the only refreshing part of the day. The Rams struggles continue this season with a 35-19 defeat at the hands of the Illinois State Redbirds who improve to 3-0.

Coming into today with a 1-3 record, Colorado State felt the pressure to win their final non-conference game this season against a high-powered Illinois State team that is fresh off of their bye week. However, the Rams unreliable offense had no answers for the FCS 15th ranked Redbirds.

The Rams had a decent enough start scoring the first touchdown of the game on a 9-yard connection between K.J. Carta-Samuels and receiver Olabisi Johnson. Johnson has become one of the few high points for this offense with 4 touchdowns so far on the year. The touchdown would be the only offense produced for the Rams in the 1st half. They actually managed to net a total of -2 yards on offense throughout the entire 2nd quarter.

While Illinois State failed to find the end-zone in the 1st quarter, they were responsible for all the scoring in the 2nd. The first touchdown came at the hands of #22 James Robinson, who punched it in from 2 yards out. The second touchdown came just before the end of the half, with Markel Smith’s 1-yard run. Both backs were effective at breaking tackles throughout the game.

The Redbirds started the 2nd half with possession and proceeded to march down the field, capped off by a Brady Davis 12-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Petkovich. Down at this point 21-6, the Rams and quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels showed life starting with a 18-yard punt return to give them decent field position. 7 plays later and Carta-Samuels found Nikko Hall for a 17-yard touchdown. Kicker Wyatt Bryan hit the extra point, making it 21-13.

That was as close the Rams would get. After putting the Redbirds back to 3rd and 19, the Rams blew their chance to get the ball back when receiver Markel Smith ran down the sidelines for a 60-yard touchdown, making it 28-13.

The Redbirds showed a much more balanced version of offensive strategy, mixing an even dose of running and passing. Their strategy to use both aspects of their offense is really what allowed them to move the ball so well down the field. They finished the game with 267 rushing yards and 271 passing yards. Robinson carried the majority of the load finishing with 184 yards and 2 touchdowns.

While CSU has left much to be desired 5 games into the season, Head Coach Mike Bobo hoped that his team can at least demonstrate signs of improvement heading into their bye week. Now the focus will have to be on evaluating their flaws and figure out some way to re-establish the identity of their football team. After the game, a deflated Bobo immediately took to apologize to the fan-base and also admited that this group is not playing well in any phase of the game.

Bobo said, “We’re not very good right now, that’s the bottom line and we’ve got to figure out some things to do heading into this bye week. I think it’s come at the right time… We’ve got to coach better and all that starts with me. It was an embarrassment out there today to anyone that is a Ram fan and supporter.”

He also said, “We had some problems on defense, sure, but offensively we are not helping our defense at all. Special teams/ kick return did a good job today but we’re not really getting a spark from that area either…We missed too many tackles. We had guys in position to make tackles and sometimes we could not do that so we have to be better in those situations.”

Certainly the Rams have plenty of room to improve but the bye week could prove to be the catalyst for them before returning to Mountain West Conference play. On Saturday October 6th the Rams will head to San Jose to take on the Spartans who aren’t having an impressive season themselves at 0-3. The Redbirds will look to maintain their momentum as they head into Missouri State next Saturday.




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