We're at a loss for words.
Well, not exactly a total loss. Here goes:
A season that promised to be something great has become something to forget. Looking back, it will be hard to swallow a few years from now, knowing just how much talent is on the current Rams roster. It may be several years before we see a player like Bradlee Van Pelt wearing green and gold again.
That being said, this season just goes to show you how small details can make a big difference.
At media day in August, I asked Sonny Lubick and a few of his assistants about the departure of assistants Larry Kerr, Marvin Sanders and Brian Schneider. They all shrugged, saying in effect that it was something they had no control over, that they wished their former staff mates well, and that they were confident in who they had hired to fill the vacancies.
Sonny, however, was somewhat forboding when he noted that Kerr had been with him for 10 years, and Schneider almost as long. You could tell by the sound of his voice that he knew he would end up missing those guys at some point. It didn't take long.
This is not to say that Steve Stanard, hired away from New Mexico State, will not be an outstanding defensive coach at CSU, but the fact remains that some adjustment time is necessary when new staff members are brought in. This season, it's become apparent that the CSU special teams, so very special under Schneider, and the CSU defense, so solid under Kerr, are not what they were just yet.
The Rams have lost four times this season, and three times it was poor defensive play that was the chief culprit. Only in the Utah game was the offense really to blame for CSU's defeat. Against Colorado, Little Miami and Wyoming, it was defensive breakdowns that doomed CSU.
For a head coach like Lubick with a defensive background, this season must be hard to stomach. CSU has good athletes (although key injuries have thinned the ranks), but they're simply not playing as well as a unit as they did under Kerr.
Plus, the special teams have not made a mark -things like key game breaking plays - that were the trademark of Schneier's units.
We must resign ourselves to the fact that it's going to take Stanard a little while to put his stamp on the Rams defense. It's still Kerr's players that Stanard is coaching, and they've obviously not totally bought into what he wants them to do.
But take heart, Ram fans. After former Offensive Coordinator Steve Fairchild left for the NFL, it took CSU awhile to hit stride again on offense. Under Jon Benton and Dan Hammerschmidt, they've now done that, and with Justin Holland waiting in the wings to take over under center, and several excellent skill players returning, they should be very good again next year - even without Van Pelt. Chances are that the new staff members will get the defense and special teams back on track, too.
We certainly hope so.