In one play, the Western Illinois defense got a good look at the explosiveness of Colorado State’s offense.
The FBS Rams scored on a 77-yard touchdown pass just 10 seconds into the game, roared to a big first half then held off Western, 38-13, at Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday. The loss dropped WIU to 0-2 on the season.
Along with the long opening pass, CSU (1-1) scored on a 77-yard play midway through the quarter and gained 585 total yards in the victory. The Rams had four plays of 24 yards or longer in the opening half while putting together a 28-6 halftime lead.
“We’ve got to find a way to eliminate big plays,” WIU head coach Jared Elliott told the Leatherneck Radio Network after the game. “We gave up too many of those in the air early on. We’ve got a lot to learn from this game.”
- Big-play pain: During its 0-2 start, the Leathernecks have yielded five scoring plays of at least 33 yards. Being vulnerable to big plays has stung WIU and forced them into early deficits in both defeats. Though the defense slowed CSU down in the second half, the damage had been done.
- Fixes for the offense: The Leathernecks are averaging 15 points a game and only 4 yards per play this season. Those are both troubling numbers for Elliott. “We have to find a consistent rhythm on offense,” he said after the game. Of the Leathernecks’ 14 drives Saturday at CSU, only one two were longer than 40 yards.
- Kicking game shines: Senior placekicker Nathan Erickson connected on both of his field-goal attempts – including a 44-yarder – to provide Western with its only first-half points. Junior punter Adam Fellner averaged 46.6 yards on his seven punts and booted three inside the 20-yard line.
Western plays its home opener at 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 against Montana State of the Big Sky Conference.