FORT COLLINS –– Colorado State is looking at finding a way to reduce penalties that have cost it during an 0-2 start.
“You’re not gonna win many games (with an alarming amount of penalties),” quarterback Todd Centeio said after CSU lost to Vanderbilt Saturday night. “But if it’s aggressive plays, it’s football. That happens. There’s a bunch of targeting calls throughout college football. It’s just the name of the sport. But the dumb ones are the ones that we have to hone in on and correct.”
The consequences of CSU targeting two Vanderbilt players bled over to this week as starting safety Logan Stewart and first-string linebacker Tavian Brown must sit out the first half of Saturday’s game at Toledo.
“We had a lot of marginal penalties out there,” coach Steve Addazio said. “I don’t usually say that. But I watched the tape, and that’s what I saw. Over time, those things usually even out. But it’s the dumb penalties that really hurt us a lot. We can’t have those.”
CSU had 11 penalties for 115 yards against the Commodores.
“I’d like to tell you we can just clean that up,” Addazio said. “But we’ll see. With the stupid stuff, we just have to grow up. The margin for error is too small to be able to go out there and squander away (115) yards in penalties.”
During a first half in which CSU’s array of wasted scoring opportunities allowed Vanderbilt to hang around, the Rams’ offensive line accounted for a pivotal false start. With CSU setting up a 41-yard field goal attempt, Barry Wesley prematurely jumped, negating Cayden Camper’s successful boot.
Following the flag, Camper’s retry from 46 sailed wide as CSU squandered the chance to jump ahead 17-0.
“I find that when we start to get over midfield…it’s a mental focus deal for us,” Addazio said. “We really need to get better handling that. We should have had 28 points, certainly 24 minimally (in the first half). But that didn’t happen because we had some bad penalties and missed opportunities.”
In the second half, preventable miscues enabled Vanderbilt’s offense to stage a comeback. CSU suffered through five 15-yard defensive flags down the stretch.
Cornerback Marshaun Cameron had three pass interference violations, the final of which occurred with the score tied at 21. Vandy got 15 more free yards from Stewart’s targeting, which helped set up the visitor’s game-winning field goal.
“The PIs, we’ve had officials all year long in here, and we practice a fair amount of man coverage,” Addazio said. “But those still came up last week. Some of our better players are making stupid penalties. That’s just really bad decision-making. We can’t have that.”