No major gaffes best describes Nate Longshore's performance at Fort Collins on Saturday. Faced with the lack of an established running game to keep the defense honest Longshore was crisp and efficient on the shorter routes but was continually off by a stride on the longer patterns and never hit a big play. Though this may be disappointing to some it does show maturity that Longshore did not try to force plays (see the Arizona game of '06) and generally kept his composure.
Rating: 7.5 (1-10 scale)
Justin Forsett had a workman-like game grinding out 59 yards on 13 carries for 4.5 YPC, an effort well below his normal production level. The majority of Forsett's carries were in the first half when the offensive line was getting little push up front and he left the game in the 3rd quarter with an undisclosed injury.
From that point on James Montgomery took over the running duties for the first time and a combination of his effort and better blocking pushed him to 43 yards on 9 carries.
Jahvid Best again displayed the potential that has Bear fans gushing. His 64-yard run on a left-side pitch play to put the Bears up 34-14 all but sealed the win. Best continues to impress not only with his speed but also impressive instincts and tackle breaking ability.
Bear fans were in panic mode after watching the Rams march down the field and take a 7-0 lead - only to have DeSean Jackson ride to the rescue on the first play from scrimmage with a 73 yard run on a seemingly effortless end around play. While that play ensured Jackson another week on the highlight reels, he also made solid contributions as a receiver pulling in 5 balls for 39 yards. While Jackson grabbed the highlight reel, Lavelle Hawkins continued to be Longshore's preferred target with 5 receptions for 43 yards. Tight End Cameron Morrah continued to show good receiving ability with a diving first quarter grab.
A strength against Tennessee, the offensive line started very slowly against Colorado State, opening few holes for the running game and allowing Longshore to be hurried or sacked on several occasions. The low point was a 2nd quarter play with the ball backed up on the 2-yard line and Alex Mack completely missed CSU DT Blake Smith who nearly hit Forsett for a safety. Mike Tepper also did not have a good game - drawing three penalties, one of which was a holding call that brought back a TD pass to Lavelle Hawkins. The O-line did wake up in the 2nd half, finally taking the fight to the opponent, and paving the way to a 34-14 lead.
With DT Mika Kane sitting at home in Berkeley, the Bears had to make do with a weakened D-line rotation in the thin air of Fort Collins. In the first half it appeared this might be the Bears undoing as they were unable to contain the Rams' running attack that frequently moved them off the line of scrimmage.
The star of the d-line was DE Tyson Alualu (5 tackles, 2 solo, 3 assists, 2 sacks) who continues to improve with playing time. True frosh Cameron Jordan (3 tackles, 2 solo, 1 assist, 0.5 sacks) also played well in his most extensive time to date. RS frosh DT Derrick Hill had his first game action and made an impact by intercepting a pass in the CSU end zone to end an imminent scoring threat. DE Rulon Davis still appears to be learning his craft as despite his size and strength as he allows himself to be sealed off from plays too often - a direct contribution to CSU's ability to run the ball early in the game.
Anthony Felder (13 tackles, 9 solo, 4 assists, 2 sacks, 1 Forced Fumble) deserves special mention for a career best performance. The junior linebacker was all over the field and made a key play in the 3rd quarter when he dislodged the ball from CSU QB Caleb Hanie.
Justin Moye also made a key play in the 4th quarter when he intercepted a pass with the game still in doubt - and setting up a TD drive. Zach Follett (5 tackles, 4 solo, 1 assist) and Worrell Williams (7 tackles, 3 solo, 4 assists) continued to be most effective when attacking the line of scrimmage on run or pass blitzes. Williams likes to split the gaps from his MLB position; when reading the run in space he had trouble making the tackle. Follett has been better in space but causes more trouble for offenses when coming off the edge 0 as he did when making the QB hit which led to an INT.
Marcus Ezeff (7 solo tackles, 1 pass defended) played for Bernard Hicks at the rover position and starred in run support for the Bears secondary - but despite excellent coverage did surrender a 44 yard pass completion to CSU WR George Hill to set up the Rams' final TD. Apart from that play, and a 66-yard mishap for Darian Hagan, the coverage was good - if a little soft - allowing 301 yards passing (100 of which came on the two late plays) on 30 attempts. The starting CBs, Brandon Hampton (2 tackles, 1 solo, 1 assist) and Syd'Quan Thompson (6 tackles, 5 solo, 1 assist) did not allow any big plays.
PK Jordan Kay impressed in his 2nd career start in place of the injured Tom Schneider by making field goals of 41 and 47 yards as well as converting four extra points. Punter Andrew Larson did well though he did not get the bounces he wanted when attempting to place the ball inside the CSU 20 yard line. The Punt and Kick coverage units did not allow significant return yardage.
DeSean Jackson- 73 yard TD run (1st quarter)
Cameron Moorah- 22 yard catch (2nd quarter)
Jahvid Best- 64 yard TD run (4th quarter)
Zach Follett- hit on CSU QB causing INT (1st quarter)
Anthony Felder- sack and forced fumble (3rd quarter)
Justin Moye- Interception and 27 yard return (4th quarter)
The Bears did not come into this game with the energy needed to dominate at the line of scrimmage and problems emanated from there.
The running lanes were not present early in the game and pass protection was less than optimal.
On the defensive side of the ball the absence of the physical Mika Kane was noticeable as the D-line was pushed around too often leaving the linebackers and safeties to make tackles downfield on RBs who hadn't broken stride.
On a more encouraging note, the defensive line recorded two sacks (both by Tyson Alualu) and LB Anthony Felder had a confidence building game with a team season high tackle total including two sacks of his own as well as a forced fumble.
Despite the shortcomings in this game the Bears held a 20 point lead with 5:44 left in the game when the reserve defense was inserted; that combined with an onside kick allowed r CSU to close to within six points.
Look for Tedford to emphasize coming out and dominating the line of scrimmage in the Louisiana Tech game. The speed of the Bears' offense was once again on display as DeSean Jackson and Jahvid Best both scored on long TD runs by simply outrunning the defense.
Overall Rating: 7.0
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