Q&A: Colorado State under the Microscope

Cal Sports Digest got a chance to discuss Saturday's California-Colorado State game with Natalie Meisler of the Denver Post…

The California Golden Bears will play the Colorado State Rams in a rematch of last year's 34-28 Bear's victory in Fort Collins. With last year's game going down to the wire, the Rams will come into this game with a lot of confidence. The Cal defense for the second game in a row will face a quality running back – Gartrell Johnson. He is averaging 4.6 YPC and has two touchdowns. Just like the Maryland game, the Bears must show that they can shut down the run.

Here are the Denver Post's Natalie Meisler's answers…

Colorado State went 3-9 last season, but they played the Bears tough at home last year and lost a close game 34-28. In 2003, the Rams beat the Bears in a tight contest 23-21. After watching the MWC embarrass the Pac-10 this season what does this football program think about their chances this Saturday against California?

CSU is very respectful of the Cal athletes, speed and explosiveness. Fairchild is staying way clear of 'MWC beat Pac-10 teams so should we.' QB who nearly pulled off the comeback last year, Caleb Hanie, made the Chicago Bear's roster as a free agent.

Colorado State barely beat Sacramento State 23-20. Was that performance a case of the Rams not respecting the Hornets as an opponent or is the coaching staff still trying to figure out where their talent level is and how to take advantage of their strengths?

Both. Also there's always a big letdown after the Colorado game.

Cal is coming off a disappointing loss to Maryland and had an extra week to prepare for the Rams. Do you feel that the extra week of preparation will put the Rams at a disadvantage?

Disadvantage. CSU came out a new team vs. Houston after their bye week.

Under former Coach Sonny Lubick the Colorado State program was very respectable and Lubick was able to make the Colorado/ Colorado State rivalry one of the best rivalry games in the country. Dan Hawkins is quickly turning around the Buffaloes program. Do you feel that Steve Fairchild understands the pressure of not only competing with Colorado for recruits, but the thought in fans minds that they feel they should compete for a BCS berth? What are Steve Fairchild's ultimate goals for this program?

Steve keeps talking about restoring CSU to its dominances of the mid-to-late 90's. Rams fell way behind the Joneses in facilities and they are now breaking ground on an indoor practice facility. Sonny could never get enough summer school money out of the budget to have a really good summer conditioning program. Steve comes in and they open up the vault.

Running back Gartrell Johnson has had a very productive season so far. Is there another player on the Rams offense that they feel has the ability to step up and take some pressure off Johnson?

Kyle Bell, who started against Cal last year, is a fifth-year senior who had a fantastic sophomore year in 05, tore an ACL before 06, couldn't get it done last year and is closer to 05 form this year.

Quarterback Billy Farris is completing just under 70% of his passes. Does the Colorado State offense have the talent to win high-scoring games or do the Rams feel that a more ball-controlled offense is their best chance of being successful?

CU has ball control capabilities. Farris has improved every week but hasn't moved the ball consistently. Last week there were three turnovers by Houston before the game ended and CSU didn't convert a point.

What player on the roster has game changing ability that might not be receiving that much media attention at this point?

WR Ryan Gardner, a juco transfer, but he hasn't caught many passes yet.

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