CSU Rams football overwhelmed by Michigan in the Big House – The Denver Post

ANN ARBOR, Mich — In the weeks leading up to Colorado State’s season opener against No. 8 Michigan, new Rams head coach Jay Norvell was optimistic, but spoke about learning curves, life lessons and adversity.

Playing at Michigan Stadium for the first time in school history and in front of the largest crowd the program has ever seen (109,575) Saturday, the Rams put up a fight against the Wolverines, but ultimately lost 51-7 in Norvell’s first game on the CSU sideline.

No doubt, there were lessons learned and that learning curve was evident throughout as the Rams got little offense going, especially in the first half, and gave up some big plays on the defensive side.

“Overall, there were a lot of good things that we did,” Norvell said. “It just wasn’t nearly enough, obviously. It’s a little bit of too much, too soon for us, to be able to face a team of this quality this early. They’re a good football team. I thought we did some good things. The game was pretty much penalty-free on our side of the ball, and I was proud of that.”

There were bright spots for the Rams as they now look ahead to their home opener against Middle Tennessee next Saturday.

Most notable was the team’s lone touchdown, which came in the fourth quarter with the Rams behind 44-0. On second-and-8 from the Michigan 34-yard line, quarterback Clay Millen found Tory Horton in the back of the end zone with 8:59 to go to trim the Michigan lead ever so slightly.

It was really the only shot the Rams took downfield.

Millen, making his first collegiate start, completed 16 of 20 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was also sacked seven times — four in the first half alone — as the CSU offensive line appeared overwhelmed at times trying to protect Millen from a stout Michigan defense.

“The speed wasn’t extremely a lot faster, and I knew they were going to be a good football team,” Millen said. “It wasn’t like the game in my head was going really fast. They were just a really good team that executed well. That was my biggest takeaway.”

Elsewhere, defensive back Jack Howell made a big second-down stop on a running play in the red zone in the first quarter and appeared to have CSU’s first turnover of the season on the next play, but after review, it was ruled his interception hit the ground before he could secure it.

Twice in the first half, the Rams’ defense was able to hold Michigan to field goals when the Wolverines were in the red zone. However, all four times Michigan penetrated CSU’s 20-yard line in the first half, the Wolverines came away with points. They were perfect on their three red zone trips in the second half as well.

The dagger came early in the second half. On CSU’s first possession coming out of the locker room, Millen was stripped of the ball and DJ Turner scooped it up and ran it 45 yards for a touchdown. That made it 30-0.

The Rams used four running backs in the game. A’Jon Vivens led the way with 35 yards on 10 carries. Avery Morrow ran for 21 yards on seven carries while David Bailey rushed six times for 27 yards.

Horton led the team in receiving with six catches for 69 yards.

Michigan finished the game with 440 yards of offense — 206 through the air and 234 on the ground. Fifteen different receivers caught passes for the Wolverines. It also had nine players run the ball, led by Blake Corum, who rushed for 80 yards and one of four Michigan rushing touchdowns.

“Overall, I’m not discouraged about our guys at all,” Norvell said. “This is a good football team. They’re pretty different than everybody else on our schedule. I’m proud of our players. I think we’re doing a lot of good things and a lot of things right, and if we continue to do those things, we’re going to see improvement as we go through the year. We’ll learn a lot from this game, and we’ll go back to work on Monday to improve on the things we learned on.”

Next week’s contest against Middle Tennessee will kick off at 2 p.m. at Canvas Stadium.

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