Keys to Victory: Florida vs CSU
Colorado State football (1-2) is coming off of a monster victory over Arkansas, but the Rams now have the difficult task of keeping a level head and responding in a difficult road environment. Here are the keys to victory for the Rams on Saturday.
1. Limit the big play: Giving up explosive plays to opposing offenses has been a common issue for the the various CSU defensive units over the years. In each of the first two losses this season, the Rams were torched for plays of 20+ yards multiple times. And even in the victory over the Razorbacks, CSU gave up touchdowns of 25 yards and and 64 yards in the third quarter, before outscoring Arkansas 25-0 in the final 20 minutes.
When the defense forces teams to drive the length of the field, the Rams have a better chance of getting a stop or the offense making a mistake. Florida is likely going to try and mimic Arkansas’ success on the ground, so the key for CSU will be tackling and forcing the Gators to line up and run another play. The other crucial factor will be the secondary staying in position and not getting beaten over the top, especially if the Gators lull the defense down by the line of scrimmage with a consistent run game.
2. Let K.J. Carta-Samuels open up the offense: Anytime the offense has looked good in 2018, the Rams have operated out of the gun and allowed Carta-Samuels to spread the football around to the athletic playmakers on the outside. Preston Williams and Bisi Johnson are talented enough to get open against any team, including SEC secondaries, and Cameron Butler legitimately might be the most dangerous pass catching tight end in the Mountain West.
CSU cannot afford to be one dimensional Saturday and running the football will definitely still be an important factor for the Rams. If CSU can establish any kind of ground game, it will really help the offense establish the tempo and control pace of the game.
That being said, if the Rams want to shock the world and upset another SEC opponent, getting off to a faster start on offense will be crucial. As exciting as the comeback efforts against Hawai’i and Arkansas were, it is unlikely that the team would be able to consistently win by racing back in the fourth quarter every week.
3. Steal the momentum with a big play: Florida may historically be one of the nation’s elite football programs, but the Gators have had a chaotic couple of years as a program. If the Rams can take the crowd out of the game by creating turnovers, coming up with sacks or making an explosive play or two on special teams, the Gators may just crumble under the pressure.
Arkansas had some questionable play calling in last weekend’s collapse in Fort Collins, but aside from the offense heating up in the fourth quarter, the Rams’ ability to create turnovers and pressure the QB were the biggest reasons that CSU won. A perfect effort from Wyatt Bryan on special teams was important as well. The Rams will need a similar effort in the Swamp.
PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian