Preview 2017: Colorado State Rams
Previewing and looking ahead at the Colorado State Rams season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Colorado State Offense
With a few tough exceptions against Colorado and Wyoming, the offense was close to unstoppable – and it should be even better.
There wasn’t a hotter quarterback – at least in terms of accuracy – over the second half of the season than Nick Stevens. He’s back, along with all-star receiver Michael Gallup and five of the top six receivers.
Tight end is a little bit of an issue, and the O line that was so amazing in pass protection – giving up just 13 sacks – has to come up with a few new options, but there are good enough parts to work around to keep either area from being a big problem.
The running back trio of Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey are back after combining for almost 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. Now …
Biggest Key To The Colorado State Offense
Can it be as simple as running for 200 yards? The stellar Ram passing game will control most of the action, but the Ram running backs are too good to not keep feeding the ball. Last season, CSU was 7-0 when running for 200, 0-6 when going under – they’ll get to 200 on a regular basis.
What You Need To Know About The Colorado State Defense
The Ram defense might have crashed and burned over the final month of the season, but it comes back full of experience and enough talent to be decent. It wasn’t bad overall last season, but this year the secondary has to stay healthy and be stronger.
Most of the defensive backs return led by a terrific group of safeties. The pass rush should help out the corners, with a young line in the 3-4 that can hold its own, while the outside linebackers do most of the dirty work.
The linebacking corps isn’t the team’s biggest strength, but it’s not far off. Josh Watson is a player in the middle, but getting back Deonte Clyburn after a year off loads up an already good corps, even without leading tackler Kevin Davis.
Biggest Key To The Colorado State Defense
The run defense has to be able to hang with the better teams. Yeah, trying to stop Air Force, New Mexico, Boise State and San Diego State might be tough, but that’s the deal.
Wan to win the Mountain West? Hold up better on the front seven. The Rams were ripped up, allowing 200 yards or more eight times, gave up two touchdowns or more nine times – Air Force cranked up seven – and allowed 194 against SDSU.
Colorado State Will Be Far Better If …
The defense can make a few stops in the red zone, and not just because Idaho lit the Rams up like a Christmas tree in the bowl with six touchdowns on six tries inside the 20.
While the Colorado State offense was among the best in the country in the red zone, the D gave up way too many touchdowns. Teams scored 44-of-47 times deep in CSU territory, getting into the end zone 36 times. That’s way too many.
Best Colorado State Offensive Player
WR Michael Gallup, Sr. – The terrific receiving corps has its All-Mountain West star back. The 6-1, 195-pound Gallup led the team with 76 catches for 1,272 yards and 14 scores, turning into dangerous home run hitter who scored at least once in each of the last eight games and with three scores in each of the last two. He’s the fast No. 1 guy, but there’s enough help to keep defenses from keying on him.
2. QB Nick Stevens, Sr.
3. C Jake Bennett, Sr.
4. RB Izzy Matthews, Jr.
5. RB Dalyn Dawkins, Sr.
Best Colorado State Defensive Player
LB Josh Watson, Jr. – Even in a loaded group of linebackers it’s Watson who’ll be the star in the middle. The 6-2, 235-pound veteran came up with 90 stops, with 7.5 tackles for loss, coming up with 12 tackles in back-to-back games against Minnesota and Wyoming. Consider him a lock for 100 stops.
2. LB Evan Colorito, Sr.
3. LB Deonte Clyburn, Sr.
4. S Jake Schlager, Sr.
5. DE Toby McBride, Soph.
Key Player To A Successful Season
P Ryan Stonehouse, Fr. – The Rams had a huge advantage at times on special teams, with Hayden Hunt averaging 44 yards per kick for the nation’s tenth-best in the nation. He was a four-year star who became one of the team’s keys – and now he has to be replaced.
In comes Ryan Stonehouse, a true freshman who’ll be thrown to the wolves and be asked to be another Hunt right away. Considering by some services as the nation’s best punting prospect, he just might be ready to roll.
The Colorado State Season Will Be A Success If …
It wins the Mountain West championship. By far the best team yet under Bobo, the Rams are loaded for a run to the title game. They don’t have to play San Diego State from the West division, get Air Force at home, and have the firepower to bomb away with everyone on the slate – except for Alabama. They have yet to play in a Mountain West title game, but they should be able to get there if they can get by …
Key Game To The Colorado State Season
Nov. 11 vs. Boise State – Going to Wyoming the week before will matter, and dealing with Air Force the year before that will be an issue, but the Rams – most likely – have to handle Boise State in Fort Collins to have any real hope of taking the Mountain Division. The two programs have only played six times – Colorado State has yet to win one.
2016 Colorado State Fun Stats
– Onside Kicks: Colorado State 3-for-7 – Opponents 0-for-2
– Sacks: Colorado State 29 for 193 yards – Opponents 13 for 114 yards
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Colorado State 131 – Opponents 73