Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Colorado State Rams

Colorado State Rams
Colorado State pushed through last season to finish 7-5, but had a miserable defensive performance in the Idaho Potato Bowl, and gave up 61 points to an Idaho team that had announced that they were heading back to the FCS ranks in 2018. Clearly, Colorado State was not prepared for what was coming with Idaho playing in their own state for the bowl. At 14-12 after two seasons, and with a brand new stadium opening up, Mike Bobo has got to find a way to push this team to the next level, or else he may not be what this program needs to do so. Is this the year?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Nick Stevens was horrible in a loss to Colorado last season, and then missed the following month after being benched. He stuck it out, and played in ten games, passing for 19 TDs and just five picks after getting back into the starting role after Collin Hill wrecked his ACL. He may be ready for a big comeback season in 2017.
Dalyn Dawkins returns at RB after rushing for 919 yards last fall. Izzy Matthews is the power back, and also returns after rushing for 13 scores last fall. Marvin Kinsey returns as well after injuring his knee last season, and could be a candidate for a breakout season after averaging 5.87 yards per carry last fall.
Michael Gallup became Stevens' best friend last season, and likely saved Steven's career as a Ram as well. He finished with 1272 yards receiving last fall on 76 catches. He scored 14 times and averaged 16.74 yards per catch. Olabisi Johnson returns as well, and I expect him to see numbers advanced of where he was a year ago. He averaged just under 22 yards per reception last fall. Detrich Clark is back as well, and moves into the starting lineup after limited action a year ago.
Wyatt Bryan is back at PK, and was largely solid as a sophomore, hitting 11/14 FG attempts on the season.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The offensive line may be a work in progress, as only two starters return this fall in LT Zack Golditch and C Jake Bennett. Colby Meeks could start at LG, while Jeff Taylor (RG) and Trae Moxley (RT) will also get starting shots in fall camp.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The line looks to be a strength this fall, as four players with starting experience will return to start. Toby McBride played a ton in rotation as a freshman last fall, and finished with four sacks. NT Darnell Thompson added another 3.5 sacks as well to provide pressure up the middle. Evan Colorito will return to start at DE after a 10 TFL season, and DT Jakob Buys added another four. This very well could be one of the best defensive lines in the Mountain West.
Josh Watson and Tre Thomas both return to start at LB. Watson finished with 90 tackles last fall, and added 7.5 TFLs. Thomas added seven TFLs on 38 total tackles. Kevin Davis is gone, but 2015 starter Deonte Clyburn will be back from missing all of last season with an injury.
I usually would be concerned about freshman Punters, but Ryan Stonehouse comes from a long line of Punters, and he was the highest rated high school punter in this class. He averaged over 45 yards per punt at Mater Dei in California.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The secondary has some missing parts this season, as two starters need to be replaced. CB Kevin Nutt, Jr. is back, as is FS Jake Schlager. Nutt was not the most active CB in the nation last year, and only finished with one PBU. Schlager finished with 73 tackles, but is not the most active Safety in pass coverage. Justin Sweet is in line to win the open CB job, while Jamal Hicks, a sophomore, may end up with the SS spot.
2017 Schedule: 8/26 Oregon State, 9/1 Colorado @ Denver, 9/8 Abilene Christian, 9/16 at Alabama, 9/30 at Hawaii, 10/7 at Utah State, 10/14 Nevada, 10/20 at New Mexico, 10/28 Air Force, 11/4 at Wyoming, 11/11 Boise State, 11/18 San Jose State
Final Overview
There has been a lot of talk around Colorado State looking for greener pastures outside of the Mountain West for the last year now, and there has been some interest with the new stadium going into play this fall. If that is to truly happen, however, winning seven games per season and scraping into a bowl game will not cut it. This is a solid year for the Rams to shock some people beyond the seven wins that I see on the schedule once more. If they can win just two games in which they will likely be a dog, that would be enough to push for a division title run this season. If they fall short of that, the Rams may want to start thinking about whether or not Mike Bobo is enough to lead them into the new era. The brass ring is there, the division is winnable, the window is open, and the brass ring is within reach. Time to make a run at it all.

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