#62 Colorado State Football 2015 Preview

Colorado State Rams

Overall Rank: #62
#4 Mountain West

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Heading into the last week of the 2014 season, Colorado State was sitting at 10-1 and hoping to reach the MW title game. But they lost at Air Force, ending any hopes of a conference title. And then they lost their coach to Florida and were matched up with Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost 45-10. Still it was a program changing year for the Rams. They were able to get Mike Bobo to lead the team after spending time as Georgia’s offensive coordinator. It is a good hire, although there is a lot to learn as new systems are brought in on offense and defense.

2014 Record: 10-3, 6-2
2014 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Utah (L 10-45)
Coach: Mike Bobo (0-0 at Colorado State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Will Friend
Defensive Coordinator: Tyson Summers

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Treyous Jarrells, RB, 457 yards
Passing: Nick Stevens, QB, 136 yards
Receiving: Rashard Higgins, WR, 1,750 yards
Tackles: Kevin Pierre-Louis, S, 85
Sacks: Corey James, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: Trent Matthews, S, 3; Tyree Simmons, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Jasen Oden Jr., WR Joe Hansley, WR Deionte Gaines, TE Steven Walker, OL Fred Zerblis, DB Preston Hodges, DE Joe Kawulok

Key Losses: RB Dee Hart, QB Garrett Grayson, WR Charles Lovett, WR Xavier Williams, OL Ty Sambrailo, LB Aaron Davis, LB Max Morgan, DB Bernard Blake

It was the offense that led the Rams to such a successful 2014 season, but it could be the defense that does it in 2015. The team is moving to a 4-3 scheme under new coordinator Tyson Summers, but there is a lot of talent and experience that should be able to pick up the changes quickly. The defensive line will be asked to do more now and there is plenty of experience with three starters returning. Joe Kawulok, Terry Jackson and Justin Hansen are all seniors and should be solid, even if they lack explosiveness. On paper, linebacker is a concern with Aaron Davis and Max Morgan gone, but Cory James is ready for a big year after leading the team with 6.5 sacks last season. The coaching staff is also excited about Deionte Clyburn, Kevin Davis and Kiel Robinson and linebacker could very quickly turn into the best unit this defense has to offer. The secondary returns all four starters, led by safeties Kevin Pierre-Louis and Trent Matthews and cornerback Preston Hodges.

The offense must replace Garrett Grayson at quarterback and Dee Hart at running back. Grayson rewrote the CSU record books and threw for 4,006 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2014. Those are big shoes to fill for sophomore Nick Stevens. Stevens takes over after attempting 25 passes as Grayson’s backup last year and will usher in the new pro-style offense that will take advantage of Colorado State’s experienced offensive line and talented tight ends. But for that to work, Stevens will need an effective, powerful running game. Hart rushed for 1,275 yards and 16 touchdowns during his senior season. Backups Treyous Jarrells (87 carries for 450 yards) and Jasen Oden (46 carries for 276 yards) are back to attempt to replicate that production. Dalyn Dawkins, a transfer from Purdue, will also get a chance. But perhaps the best news for the offense is that they have one of the best receivers in the game. Rashard Higgins caught 96 passes for 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore. The offense will be different, but Higgins will get his catches. Even if everything else goes horribly wrong on offense, Higgins alone will make this unit at least serviceable and always dangerous.

The Bottom Line:
Colorado State has a lot of interesting tests early. They play Minnesota and Colorado in non-conference action and start MW play at Utah State and at home against Boise State. It would be perfectly understandable if this team started out 2-4. If they can flip that to 4-2, this is a team that will only get better as the season progresses and will compete for a title. The MW is not easy, but it is unfortunate for a team that is learning a new system to have to play so many of their toughest games in the first half of the season.

Projected Bowl: New Mexico Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 159.3 (69th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 321.6 (8, 1)
Total Offense: 480.9 (18, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.9 (30, 2)
Rushing Defense: 200.8 (96, 7)
Pass Defense: 224.2 (56, 4)
Total Defense: 425.0 (85, 7)
Scoring Defense: 25.1 (44, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (53, 5)
Sacks: 1.46 (102, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (70, 8)


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