#59 Colorado State Football 2017 Preview

Colorado State Rams
Overall Rank: #59
#4 Mountain West
Colorado State will embark upon a new era in 2017 as the Rams will play in a new on-campus stadium that should elevate their ability to compete for Mountain West Conference championships. Coach Mike Bobo has done a solid job in first two seasons in Fort Collins and now that he has more of his players in place it is expected that the Rams will contend for a conference championship in 2017.
2016 Record: 7-6, 5-3
2016 Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Idaho, 50-61 L
Coach: Mike Bobo (14-12 at Colorado State, 14-12 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Will Friend
Defensive Coordinator: Marty English
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dalyn Dawkins, RB, 919 yards
Passing: Nick Stevens, QB, 1,936 yards
Receiving: Michael Gallup, WR, 1,272 yards
Tackles: Josh Watson, LB, 90
Sacks: Toby McBride, DT, 4.0
Interceptions: Braylin Scott, FS, 3
Other Key Returnees: QB Collin Hill, WR Bisi Johnson, C Jake Bennett, RT Zack Golditch, DE Darnell Thompson, WLB Deonte Clyburn, DT Jakob Buys, SLB Tre Thomas, CB Kevin Nutt Jr., SS Jake Schlager, K Wyatt Bryan, RB Izzy Matthews, RB Marvin Kinsey Jr., OLB Evan Colorito
Key Losses:  P Hayden Hunt, LB Kevin Davis, DT Josh Lovingood, OL Nick Callender, OL Fred Zerblis, OL Paul Thurston
Nick Stevens stepped up nicely at quarterback last season after Collin Hill went down with an ACL injury. Stevens completed 64.2 percent of his passes while throwing 19 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. The skill positions are loaded with plenty of quality playmakers. Dalyn Dawkins leads a deep stable of running backs after rushing for 919 yards last season. Michael Gallup leads a wide receiver group that should be one of the best in the Mountain West Conference. Gallup caught 76 passes for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bisi Johnson is back as well at wide receiver and will be looking to build off of his 28-catch season in 2016. Dietrich Clark brings a dynamic speed threat to the Rams offense that will make things very interesting as well. Jake Bennett is Colorado State’s best potential NFL prospect and he will anchor the offensive line at center in 2017. It is going to take some time for the offensive line to gel as they lost a lot of experience from the 2016 team.
Fans in Fort Collins are hoping that the Rams come back in 2017 on the defensive side of the football with something to prove after giving up 61 points to Idaho in the bowl game. Josh Watson will lead a linebacker group that will have to carry the defense right away. Watson is a strong pass rusher and, along with Deonte Clyburn, should set the Colorado State defense up to be an improved unit in 2017. Jake Schlager and Braylin Scott are going to have to stabilize a secondary that had a tough end to the season as the Rams could not hold any opposing offense under 30 points in the final four games of the season.
The Bottom Line:
Oregon State visits on August 26th to start the 2017 season, which should allow the Rams to work out some of their potential issues before playing Colorado in Denver on September 1th. A trip to Alabama is also a part of the opening month of the season so there will be plenty of opportunities for Colorado State to get national exposure for the program. If they can survive the opening month as a relatively healthy team, then they can make a run at the Mountain West Conference Championship. The toughest conference road games are at New Mexico on October 21st and at Wyoming on November 4th. Boise State comes to Fort Collins for a battle that could determine the Mountain Division championship. Bottom line, look for an eight-win season in year three for the Rams with a shot at nine or ten if they can pull an upset or two.
Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 217.8 (31st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 244.7 (55, 2)
Total Offense: 462.5 (30, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.3 (28, 3)
Rushing Defense: 214.0 (98, 8)
Pass Defense: 205.2 (32, 5)
Total Defense: 419.2 (69, 7)
Scoring Defense: 30.4 (81, 6)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (73, 6)
Sacks: 2.23 (53, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 3)