Defense Ready for CSU's Smash-Mouth Attack

The Cougar defense will face a smash-mouth attack this weekend when the Colorado State Rams come to town. It's an offensive attack that is familiar, but effective when executed properly. With two weeks of preparation, the Cougar defenders feel well-prepped for what they'll face this Saturday.

"They're a smash-mouth team," said linebacker Chris Bolden. "They'll run it right at you and keep coming, and I love that. I love a team that takes it right at us. I take it as a challenge and even a little disrespect. We'll be ready."

Indeed, Sonny Lubbick's gang does not employ the multiple spread formations and gimmicks that have become more and more commonplace over the years. What the Cougar defenders will see this weekend is classic two-receiver formations with the quarterback under center on just about every occasion.

Run first and keep on running until it's stopped is the offensive mentality of the Rams. If the run doesn't work, they have other options, but they're not given to abandon the running attack too quickly.

"They'd like to run the ball 30-40 times per game," said safety Corby Hodgkiss. "If that's not successful they go to play action, and if play action doesn't work they'll then go to drop-back."

A constant drop-back is what Colorado State will be doing their best to avoid, as it's viewed as a last resort option for the coaching staff.

"They don't want to get into the consistent five-step and three-step drops," said Hodgkiss. "They're a much better team when it's a lot of bootleg and play action, the waggles and all that."

Of course the effectiveness of play action and bootlegs is usually entirely predicated on the effectiveness of the running attack. So once again this Saturday, stopping the running attack will be of premium importance.

"We have to meet the challenge," said Bolden. "I like a team that doesn't mess around and will try and take it right to you like Colorado State does. Their running backs all run real hard and downfield. Their top back [Kyle Bell] has been limited due to past injuries, but he's still a hard runner."

Forcing Colorado State into a consistent drop-back team is what the Cougar defense will be aiming for this Saturday. From what Hodgkiss and others have seen on film, forcing the Rams into such has been the downfall to their offensive success this season.

"Their quarterback is good when he's on the move," noted Hodgkiss. "But when he drops back a lot his offensive line hasn't been able to get him enough time to be effective. That's why they do so much play action. They try real hard to keep play action effective, so it's really important that our front seven shut down their run, which I think they will."

Of course, Colorado State has weapons beyond their smash-mouth attack. They'll employ some capable weapons downfield that the secondary will have to account heavily for come Saturday. Chief among those weapons is Damon Morton.

"[Morton] is the guy we'll have to account for most," said Hodgkiss. "They have some other weapons, but he's the guy who can really beat you downfield. He's quick and really fast, so we'll be watching him closely. He's a very good player."

Colorado State is obviously a team that has not seen a lot of success this season, as they'll carry in a record of just 1-7 into Provo this Saturday. For the Cougar defensive players, CSU's record is a bit surprising given what they've seen on film.

"They're a good team that has had some tough breaks," said Bolden. "They've had some unfortunate things happen to them down the stretch, but they're a quality team that we'll have to be ready for."

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