Rams Prep for Golden Gophers

Fort Collins - A violent thunderstorm forced Colorado State University's football team indoors Tuesday for a two-hour workout.

"We got a little bit done," said Rams' coach Sonny Lubick, whose defense practiced in Moby Arena, the school's basketball facility, while the offense was in an adjacent intramural gymnasium.

"It may not be like you'd want it, but you have to make the best of it."

The Rams open their home season Saturday night, playing host to No. 22 Minnesota at 8 p.m. at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. The game is being telecast live by ESPN2 with radio coverage by the Colorado State Sports Network.

Lubick said he and his staff remain concerned about stopping the Golden Gopher's ground game, featuring tailbacks Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney. They each passed the 1,000-yard mark last year and are off to starts in 2004.

Barber gained 149 yards and scored twice in last week's win over Illinois State, while Maroney gained 141 yards and scored a touchdown.

"They are going to run at you all day long," said Lubick of the Gophers' attack. "They run inside, outside, and knock people down. Time after time, all day long."

Lubick said it will be a challenge for his team's defense, but he has no special schemes in mind. "We just have to play honest. You can't take chances or they'll make you pay."

Athletic department officials said tickets for the home opener are selling at a brisk pace. Officials hope to topple the school's attendance record for home openers, 31,607, set in 2002 against Louisville due to the addition of 4,800 permanent seats in the north end zone installed over the summer as part of a $15.2 million expansion and renovation of the facility.

Two new scoreboards and a videoboard have also been installed. The project will be completed by the start of the 2005 season with the addition of 12 luxury boxes, a renovated press box, an expanded Rams Horn premium club seating area, and a new playing surface.

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