Column: Carta-Samuels deserves to play entire game against Florida

K.J. Carta-Samuels may be 1-2 as the starting quarterback for Colorado State football, but the graduate transfer has proved in a short time how dangerous the offense can be with him under center. So when the Rams take on the Florida Gators in the Swamp Saturday afternoon, Carta-Samuels should be given the chance to play the entire game.

It made sense to give Collin Hill an opportunity in the Colorado game, considering the Rams had no spark offensively. It also was not surprising when the Rams gave Hill a shot in the second quarter of the Arkansas game.

That being said, it is painfully obvious that Hill may be medically cleared, but he nowhere near ready to run an offense yet. Hill’s story is phenomenal and the fact that he was even able to get medically cleared is one of the more impressive examples of sheer determination. The offense is simply better with Carta-Samuels on the field though, and as Mike Bobo always says, this a results business.

There are few positions on the football field that depend on getting in a rhythm more than the quarterback. The ability to get a feel for an opposing defense and establish an offensive pace in any particular matchup can be the difference between winning and losing.

So it does not seem logical to jeopardize Carta-Samuels’ rhythm for a series or two, when he is the guy that will almost surely be under center in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.

There have definitely been times when the offense has struggled to consistently move the football this season. But as we saw in the second half against Hawai’i and the fourth quarter of the victory over Arkansas, when CSU gets the football to its playmakers on the outside, the Rams are a dangerous team.

Senior QB K.J. Carta-Samuels attempts to throw the ball down field against Hawai’i.   PHOTO:   Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian

Senior QB K.J. Carta-Samuels attempts to throw the ball down field against Hawai’i. PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian

Moving forward, priority number one has to be getting guys like Bisi Johnson, Preston Williams and Cameron Butler the football. When CSU has been able to do this consistently, the offense has moved the ball in large chunks and generally has looked unstoppable.

With 5:27 remaining in the third quarter of the Arkansas game, CSU took possession of the football at its own 30-yard line, following a missed field goal attempts from the Razorbacks. The Rams responded with a seven play, 70-yard drive in just under three minutes. The drive featured a 54-yard reception from Butler and two receptions from Williams, one of which was a touchdown.

Starting at CSU’s own 4-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Carta-Samuels led a 96-yard drive in 3:29. On this series, Johnson had two catches for 27 yards and Williams had two catches for 41 yards, including his second touchdown of the night.

On the game-tying drive that ended with Wyatt Bryan’s fourth field goal Saturday, Johnson had two more receptions and Butler added in one as well.

Finally, on the game-winning drive, Carta-Samuels successfully got the ball to Williams twice before Izzy Matthews finished things off with the two most important carries of the season so far.

If you have not gotten the picture, when the Rams open things up and get the ball to the trio of skill players on the outside, good things happen. And when Carta-Samuels has been on the field, CSU has done exactly this.

Quite honestly, if the veteran quarterback had gotten in a groove one series earlier or if the defense tightened up at all against Hawai’i, CSU would probably be 2-1 with all kinds of confidence right now.

When the Rams take the field Saturday, it will be interesting to see if CSU allows Carta-Samuels spread out the offense and attack the Gators vertically from the start. Quarterbacks coach Ronnie Letson has clearly been trying to establish the run in this stint calling plays, but the team has failed to consistently run the ball with any kind of success this season.

Creating balance is significant, but considering the strategy of running the ball early has not worked in any of the first three games, CSU would be wise to shake things up against the Gators. Allowing Carta-Samuels to get in a groove in the passing game could allow CSU to throw some early points on the board and ultimately open things up on the ground in the second half.

The offense should not completely abandon the run game in the early game-plan, but a quick start offensively could be key to another upset for CSU.

At the moment, CSU players are feeling more confident than they have all season. Florida on the other hand, is coming off of a disappointing loss to Kentucky. If the Rams can find the end zone a few times in the first half, that home crowd will turn on the Gators faster than the Razorbacks choked last weekend.

Regardless of how CSU chooses to scheme the opening series this week, the one thing that is abundantly clear is Carta-Samuels gives the Rams the best opportunity to win.

PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian