1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

CU@Game CU At The Game: Colorado State – A Preview

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
    Likes Received:

    Colorado v. Colorado State – “T.I.P.S.” for the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown

    Note … For those of you new to CU at the Game, “T.I.P.S.” is my weekly preview for CU’s upcoming opponent. Divided into sections on “T – Talent”; “I – Intangibles”; “P – Preparation/Schedule”; and “S – Statistics”.

    “T.I.P.S.” will try and give you some good information, and perhaps a few insights, into what to expect each weekend.

    The nice thing about a nine month off-season is that there is plenty of time to forget all of the frustration and disappointment which was the 2015 campaign.

    For Colorado fans, the news has been largely positive since last Thanksgiving weekend:

    A great hire in Darrin Chiaverini; a nice late bump of highly-ranked recruits for the Recruiting Class of 2016; the formal opening of the long-awaited Champions Center; and an excellent start to the Recruiting Class of 2017.

    With the “undefeated” off-season, however, it’s been easy to forget that Colorado comes into the 2016 season riding a five-game losing streak. Who needs to be reminded that two of CU’s four wins in 2015 came against UMass and Nicholls State? That CU’s upcoming 2016 schedule includes road games against No. 7 Michigan, No. 24 Oregon, No. 20 USC, and No. 8 Stanford?

    Meanwhile, up in Ft. Fun, it has also been a positive off-season. The new on-campus stadium is under construction, set for a 2017 opening. The Rams have gone bowling each of the past three seasons – the second longest such streak in school history. While still a longshot, the Rams are at least on the list of teams being considered as the Big 12 expands.

    With all of that positive momentum, it can be easy for the members of the Ram Nation to forget that CSU is replacing most of its defense, and will be taking on a schedule which includes a road game against Minnesota of the Big Ten, as well as road trips to face Mountain West favorites Boise State, San Diego State, and Air Force.

    For one group of fans, the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown will reinforce the good feelings from the past off-season.

    For the other, it will be a kick in the teeth.

    T – Talent

    Discussion concerning the opposing team’s talent usually begins with taking a look at the quarterback the Buffs will be facing.

    But we won’t know – for certain – who will be under center for the Rams until Friday night.

    While the starting quarterback has been determined, it has not been officially disclosed. Taking advantage of getting CSU’s main rival in the first game of the season, Ram head coach Mike Bobo has decided to let the CU coaching staff guess who will be the starter. The candidates: junior Nick Stevens, graduate transfer Faton Bauta, and true freshman Collin Hill.

    For his money, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre has stated his belief that Stevens, who started every game for the Rams last season, is the most likely candidate. Stevens was named to the second-team All-Mountain West team last fall, throwing for 2,679 yards and 21 touchdowns.

    The problem for the Rams isn’t who will be the quarterback, but who will score the touchdowns. Gone are Biletnikoff award finalist Rashard Higgins (1,062 yards and eight touchdowns) and reliable tight end Joe Hansley (415 yards and six touchdowns). The returning receiver with the most experience is junior Xavier Williams, who had all of 19 catches last fall.

    For CSU to be successful offensively, they will have to rely on the running game. The offensive line, with four returning starters and a Nebraska transfer filling the fifth spot, is the best unit on the team. The line will try to make holes for returning starter Dalyn Dawkins, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his way to 867 yards last fall.

    “Tackle him better,” MacIntyre said of his plans to deal with Dawkins. “He’s a heck of a runner. He’s quick, athletic. He’s a darter. He’ll find (a hole) and ‘boom’ he pops out of there quick. We’ve got to rally to him and hopefully we can get off some blocks better and be able to stop him.”

    Stopping Dawkins might be enough for the Buffs to post a victory, as Colorado State returns only two starters on defense. The entire defensive line must be rebuilt from scratch, and only one defensive back returns. “On paper, I would say it’s a rebuilding year because of the experience we lost up front and in the secondary,” said Bobo. “We’ve got what we’ve got”.

    Put it this way … if Colorado cannot put together a rushing attack against a defense which was 106th in the nation in rush defense last year and lost all of its starters, it’s going to be a long season for the Buff Nation.

    I – Intangibles

    When it comes to season openers, my fall back quote is one from fighter Mike Tyson, who once famously said, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”.

    I’m not going to bore you with my annual complaint about giving little brother a full month to prepare for their Super Bowl. “Lingering Doubts” points out the disparity between CU’s record against the Rams when the teams play in the season opener (11-7 since 1983) when compared to when the game is not the first game of the season (9-1).

    Memo to CU athletic director Rick George: I understand that there are openings in the 2023 and 2024 schedules all-but reserved for Colorado State (at least according to the CSU athletic director). If FBschedules.com is to be believed, CU has TCU in the 2023 opener on September 2nd and North Dakota State in the 2024 opener on August 31st. Please do not allow CSU to talk you into adjusting anything in terms of timing. If we must deal with Colorado State (and can’t get a two-for-one) at the very least make sure the game is not the opener, but the second or third game of those seasons.

    This just in … I hate having to play Colorado State as the first game.

    Fair warning: This message will be repeated before the season openers for the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons …

    And hopefully never again after that …

    P – Preparation / Schedule

    In 2013, in Mike MacIntyre’s debut as the Colorado head coach, the Rams’ head coach Jim McElwain refused to name a starting quarterback, even going so far as to say that Colorado State might use three different quarterbacks in the game.

    The result?

    Colorado 41, Colorado State 27.

    In 2016, Rams’ head coach Mike Bobo has refused to name a starting quarterback, leaving Colorado coaches to guess among three potential options.

    The result?

    To be determined (though if you offered me a 41-27 victory right now, I’d take it, sight unseen).

    Other than the gamesmanship which comes with getting to play your chief rival after a month’s worth of preparation, Colorado State does not have any clear cut advantages over Colorado. Both teams have had the same number of practices leading up to the game, and both will have an extra day to prepare for the next contest.

    When looking forward to the next weekend’s games, the Buffs have a slight advantage. Colorado will return to Boulder to face Idaho State, one of the worst teams in the Big Sky Conference. Colorado State, meanwhile, returns to Fort Collins to play Texas-San Antonio, one of the worst teams (3-9 last year) in the Sun Belt Conference. The Roadrunners did give the Rams a game last year, falling 33-31 at home, but are not expected to pull of a road victory on September 10th in the first game of the final season for Hughes Stadium.

    No real advantage for either team in this category …

    S – Statistics

    It’s hard to use 2015 statistics as a predictor of 2016 results, but there are some national rankings from last season which may be of some import heading into the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Friday …

    — Turnover margin … Last season, Colorado State was a minus-12 in turnovers, ranked 117th in the nation. Colorado, meanwhile, the Buffs doubled the number of forced turnovers from the year before, going from 11 in 2014 (eight fumbles, three interceptions) to 22 in 2015 (eight fumbles, 14 interceptions).

    Colorado also had the distinction of being one of only six schools in the nation to force at least one turnover in every game last fall, and the only Power Five conference school to manage the feat. (Not to mention the fact that Kenneth Olugbode’s pick six was the deciding moment of last year’s game).

    — CSU’s offensive line vs. CU’s defensive line … Barring a slew of turnovers or special team heroics/gaffes, the matchup between the Rams’ best unit and the Buffs’ (hopefully) most-improved unit will be the deciding factor in the game. Last year, Colorado State was 33rd in the nation in rushing offense, while Colorado was 99th in rushing defense … and those numbers aren’t skewed by the respective conferences of the two teams. In 2014, the Rams gashed the Buffs for 266 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Last season, though the Buffs won the game, the CSU rushing attack generated 218 yards and two touchdowns.

    Colorado will have only one starter from last year’s game, Jordan Carrell, in this season’s opener. The senior defensive end will be joined by Josh Tupou and Samson Kafovalu, two players who were not available for the 2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown, but who have plenty of playing experience.

    If the Buffs can force the Rams to throw the ball … it could be a fun game to watch for the Buff Nation.


    I’m almost scared to say it.

    It’s been so long in coming that I’m not sure it’s real.

    Call it “Chiaverini Fever” or “Leavitt Be-lief” … but heading into the 2016 season, there is this weird feeling I haven’t felt in years.


    I believe that, for the first time in years, Colorado has a defense which can keep the Buffs in games. Sure, there are the road games against four ranked teams which look to be all but certain losses. But the other eight games? You can certainly present a credible argument that CU should be, at the very least, competitive, in all eight.

    It’s still going to take some upsets to get the Buffs to bowl-eligibility.

    But, at least until Friday night, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid.

    If the Buffs don’t win, I’ll turn to something stronger …

    Colorado 34, Colorado State 17.

    Continue reading...

Share This Page