COLORADO STATE DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW

Utah likes to run the football with Brandon Warfield, but the passing game could excel against a porous Rams' secondary.

There are several issues to look at when discussing Colorado State's defense this year to date. First off, they give up big plays, and not just long passes and long runs. They are being beaten on key third down conversions which keep drives alive. Here are some interesting statistics thus far and some things to look for in this weekend's match up when the Utes take on the Rams in Fort Collins, Col.

Here is the good news for the Rams: they can rush the passer. That has always been a trademark of head coach Sonny Lubick back to the days when he coached at the University of Miami. It is no different now as the Rams have recorded 13 quarterback sacks in four games!

The Rams have a pretty good linebacker group led by two-time All-Conference pick Eric Pauly, who is averaging nine tackles per game. Jahmal Hall is another linebacker to watch for the Rams.

Now for the bad news, and there is quite a bit of it for the Rams' defense thus far this season. In the Rams' opening game loss to Colorado, 35-42, the defense surrendered the following long touchdown passes to the Buffaloes: 82, 45, 38 and 78 yards respectively. Ouch! That is horrendous for a four game stretch, let alone one four quarter game.

In the Rams loss to Miami of Ohio this past weekend the Redhawks went about business in a much different manner. They used a balanced attack that included 12 first downs rushing and 13 passing. The Redhawks threw for 330 yards and two scores, while rushing for another 206 yards and three scores.

Instead of the quick strikes, the Redhawks used consistency to march down the field. To sum it up, the Rams were picked a part by a talented Redhawks offense that did pretty much whatever they wanted on Colorado State's home turf.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the nation's best and will be a high NFL draft pick.

Will the Utes be able to score at will like the Redhawks? Well, nobody is going to confuse Utes' starting quarterback Alex Smith with Roethlisberger, but the spread offense is likely to cause a lot of problems for the Rams on Saturday.

The key for Utah's offense will be once again to establish the running game. That means Warfield will be getting the ball, and getting it a lot. And why not? He is the straw that stirs the drink for the Utes. Since this will be Smith's first career start on the road look for Utah head coach Urban Meyer to try and take the pressure off of his young quarterback and let the big offensive line pave the way for Warfield.

If and when the running game gets untracked of course there will likely be several plays to try and get the ball to Paris Warren. Look for him to have a few opportunities on deep pass patterns this weekend.


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