#85 Colorado State 2018 Football Preview

Colorado State Rams
Overall Rank: #85
#5 Mountain West
 Colorado State Logo
Colorado State has now made five consecutive postseason appearances, with their latest bowl trip ending in a loss to Marshall at the New Mexico Bowl. Graduation has hit the Rams hard though and Coach Mike Bobo has some pretty big holes to fill.
2017 Record: 7-6, 5-3
2017 Bowl: New Mexico Bowl vs. Marshall (L 28-31)
Coach: Mike Bobo (21-18 at Colorado State, 21-18 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Johnson
Defensive Coordinator: John Jancek
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Izzy Matthews, RB, 613 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Olabisi Johnson, WR, 595 yards
Tackles: Josh Watson, LB, 109
Sacks: Richard King, DT, 2.5
Interceptions: Anthony Hawkins, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: S Jordan Fogal, DE Emmanuel Jones, P Ryan Stonehouse
Key Losses: RB Dalyn Dawkins, QB Nick Stevens, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Fackrell, OL Jake Bennett, OL Zack Golditch, LB Evan Colorito
Quarterback Nick Stevens finished his collegiate career ranked second on Colorado State’s career passing list. K.J. Carta-Samuels, a graduate transfer from Washington, will have one year to take over the offense. Collin Hill was expected to step into a starting role this year after redshirting in 2017 with an ACL injury, but he suffered another ACL tear in the spring and will not likely return this season. Another graduate transfer, offensive tackle T.J. Roundtree, should help bolster an offensive line that returns just two starters. Wide receiver Michael Gallup needs to be replaced after catching 100 passes for 1,413 yards and seven scores last season. Olabisi Johnson is the top returning target, but for Warren Jackson and Tennessee transfer Preston Williams. There is a big hole to fill at running back too with the departure of Dalyn Dawkins, who rushed for 1,399 yards during his senior season. The good news is Izzy Matthews has a ton of experience. The 6-0, 220 pound senior has been a backup for three years and rushed for 613 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.
Coach Mike Bobo is attempting to completely rebuild his defense by bringing in a new staff. It may take some time for the new look unit to come together in a 4-3 scheme, but after ranking eighth in the Mountain West in total defense, it was time for a change. A lot of pressure will be on senior linebackers Josh Watson and Tre Thomas to emerge as leaders in the middle of the field. The front four will be asked to disrupt more often and juniors Arjay Jean and Richard King will lead a young group of linemen. The secondary has the most experience with senior Jordan Fogal at free safety and Anthony Hawkins at cornerback. The Rams also welcome graduate transfer V.J. Banks from Rice who adds more experience to the unit.
The Bottom Line:
If the defense comes around and the Rams give up fewer big plays, this could be a good season. It remains to be seen though how quickly the team can adjust to the new scheme. On the other side of the ball, it is all about the graduate transfers. It seems likely that the Colorado State offense will continue to put up points, as they often do, but without a vast improvement on the other side of the ball, just getting to a sixth straight bowl should be the goal.
Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 200.2 (31st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 292.2 (20, 1)
Total Offense: 492.5 (11, 1)
Scoring Offense: 33.4 (31, 1)
Rushing Defense: 187.1 (89, 6)
Pass Defense: 244.5 (96, 10)
Total Defense: 431.6 (97, 8)
Scoring Defense: 27.8 (72, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (56, 7)
Sacks: 2.08 (62, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 2)