The Colorado St. 2013 Season In Review
The Rams Offense
The Rams are going to need to find a new lead rusher after both Kapri Bibbs and backup running back Donnell Alexander are no longer with the team. McElwain has a few options at running back, most noticeably converted safety Jason Oden who began taking snaps at running back during the spring. If the coaching staff wants to mix it up and not rely on just one back they could also utilize redshirted freshman Bryce Peters. There is also three true freshman and a JUCO transfer that could compete for starting time as well.
The part of the Rams offense that won't be changing so drastically will be the passing game. Quarterback Garrett Grayson returns to Colorado State for his senior year who continues to evolve as a quarterback. Last season Smith burst onto the scene throwing for 3,696 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. McElwain, who was an offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban has done a masterful job in turning Smith into one of the elite quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference. Expect big things out of the senior this season.
Like Boston College, the Rams like to use multiple tight ends in their offensive schemes in both the passing and running game. Senior Kivon Cartwright played mostly backup last season yet still was tied for most receptions for a tight end on the team. At 6'4 245, he can prove to be a matchup problem for many defenses. In terms of wide receivers, the Rams have a solid group led by sophomore Rashad Higgins who led the Rams in receiving yards as a freshman with 68 catches for 837 yards. Also not to be missed are Joe Hansley who had 52 catches and Charles Lovett who had 26 catches in nine games last season.
The biggest concern for the Rams going into this season will be the lack of experience on the offensive line. Going into this year they have a combined 33 starts through the entire line, most of those belonging to starting left tackle Ty Sambrailo. As Steve Addazio said during media days, you can try any type of offense but if the line isn't clicking it isn't going to work. The lack of consistency and experience on the line is going to be a major concern for the Rams and most likely will cause their offense to regress in 2014.
The Rams Defense
The Rams trot out a 4-3 defense that was 81st in the country in yards allowed, and points allowed. Like Boston College, the Rams have tremendous amount of turnover on the front line. They have the talent to replace them, but they may not have much depth if injuries start to sneak in during the season. Ryan Jackson who played last season will be the starting tackle, Joe Kawulok will be the starting end, and Calvin Tonga on the nose.
The Rams have some great experience in the linebacking corp as they return a handful of talented starters. Max Morgan and Aaron Davis both had well over a hundred tackles last season. If the two of them stay healthy the Rams should be all set in terms of that position.
The secondary is where Paul Myerberg has his biggest concerns. As he put it "The secondary's familiar cast of starters and contributors must improve if Colorado State hopes to vault into one of the top two spots in the Mountain Division. It's simple: CSU has the bodies, experience and potential for depth; another season spent chasing short routes, creating lanes over the middle and allowing big plays downfield is simply unacceptable – and if not addressed, would keep CSU from matching last season's win total." Colorado finished 116th last season in pass defense, and will be returning many of the same defenders that had those problems including Bernard Blake, DeAndre Elliott and Tyree Simmons.
Where BC Should Be Successful
Secondly on offense BC should be able to put up points against this defense. Even with a weak secondary, I would hope that BC mixes up the play calling. Keep them off balanced, that is the key to tearing apart a bad defense. If BC can throw the ball and mix in some runs with our stable of running backs, that could lead to a bevy of points and completely throw Colorado St.'s game off.
Where BC May Struggle
Don Brown's defense is a double edged sword. Colorado St can put up points, so BC is going to need to make some stops on defense. I don't think BC's offense is good enough to win a track meet against the Rams, so if Brown's defense doesn't make some early stops and BC's offense stalls we could be in trouble. As many of us saw in the New Mexico Bowl, the Rams can put up points in a hurry. If BC falls behind early, that could spell trouble.
Wayyyyyyy Too Early Prediction
BC 35 Colorado St 31. I think the Rams team last season will be a different team than the team that we will be seeing this season. The loss of Bibbs is huge for the Rams, and takes away a big part of their offense. But this is not a team that BC or the fanbase should take lightly. Jim McElwain is an excellent coach and will have this team prepared and it's going to take a solid effort from both the BC offense and defense to win. In the end it will be a stronger front line on offense that will give the Eagles a close win.