2013 Colorado State Preview – Offense

Posted Jul 16, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Colorado State Ram Offense

Colorado State Rams

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Colorado State Preview | 2013 Colorado State Offense
- 2013 Colorado State Defense | 2013 Colorado State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The offense needs to start being more consistent. The production wasn't bad against the mediocre to bad teams, but it failed against the decent Mountain West defenses with a good pass rush. The line gets back four starters but has to be far, far better at keeping linemen out of the backfield while generating a better push for the deep group of backs. The 1-2 punch of Donnell Alexander and Chris Nwoke could be the among the best in the league if they get a little bit of room to move, and it wouldn't be a bad thing if the passing game was more consistent. Conner Smith is a big passer with great upside, but Garrett Grayson is more mobile with good playmaking potential. The tight end situation is great, but the wideouts have to be more dangerous.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Conner Smith
80-126, 1,022 yds, 6 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Donnell Alexander
117 carries, 587 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Charles Lovett
35 catches, 428 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Donnell Alexander
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior WR Charles Lovett
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Kivon Cartwright
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Crockett Gillmore
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Alexander, 2) C Weston Richburg, 3) Gillmore
Strength of the offense: Starting Experience, Tight End
Weakness of the offense: Line Depth, Consistent Production


The passing game struggled and sputtered to consistently come up with yards, but with M.J. McPeek done, it's going to be a fight between sophomore Conner Smith and junior Garrett Grayson for time after the two saw plenty of work throughout last season. The 6-5, 220-pound Smith was thrown into the mix over the second half of the season with a 326-yard, two score day against Wyoming and 254 yards and two touchdowns in the win over New Mexico. While he's not a runner, he's a good-sized passer with decent accuracy, hitting 64% of his passes for 1,022 yards and six touchdowns with six picks. The 6-2, 215-pound Grayson has a bit more mobility and good experience after starting the final three games of 2011. He got the call to start the year and threw for 297 yards and ran for 40 yards against San Jose State and finished the year with 946 yards and seven scores with three picks, missing most of the second half of the year with a broken collarbone.

Watch Out For … true freshman Nick Stevens. He might not be an elite prospect, but the 6-4, 190-pounder is seen as an eventual starter to build around. While he'll likely redshirt, if Grayson and Smith struggle, that will quickly change.
Strength: Options. Grayson and Smith have just enough starting experience to know what they're doing. While the passing game didn't flourish, both quarterbacks weren't that bad.
Weakness: Bombing away. The Ram passing attack came up with a few big plays, but not enough of them. Most of the short-to-intermediate passes went nowhere.
Outlook: McElwein and the coaching staff know how to handle quarterbacks, and they have some good prospects to work around. Now the job is to decided on one guy and stick with him through everything but an injury.
Unit Rating: 5

Running Backs

This could quickly become one of the team's bigger strengths if the offensive line provides a little bit of room. 5-11, 205-pound sophomore Donnell Alexander is a good all-around back with 4.4 speed and great all-around skills leading the team with 587 yards and four scores to go along with 17 catches. Fast enough to be used as a kick return and tough enough to pound inside, he showed what he could do over the final month with three 100-yard games in the final four with 139 yards and two scores against UNLV. Even with other backs in the mix, he's going to be the main man for the ground attack.

Back is veteran Chris Nwoke, one of the team's top rushers over the last few seasons with 1,130 yards and nine scores last season and 570 yards and two touchdowns in a reduced role last year after getting hurt early on. A good power back, he's a hard runner between the tackles with 6-0, 213-pound size and nice quickness. 6-0, 225-pound sophomore Tommey Morris is another big back who fits the mold, seeing a little time in the middle of his true freshman season with 211 yards and two scores, while 6-3, 225-pound senior Joe Brown is another blaster who's more like a fullback. The former tight end caught 25 passes for 197 yards and a score in 2011, but last year he got a little bit of short-yardage work on the ground.

Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Kapri Bibbs, a 5-11, 203-pound all-around back with the potential to tear off yards in chunks. He's being brought in to be a factor right away.
Strength: Experience. Alexander is a terrific talent with 1,000-yard ability, and Nwoke is a former 1,000-yard back with the potential to pound away for more when healthy. The two of them should combine for big things
Weakness: The offensive line. A problem for years for the Rams, the line has to provide a bigger push and better holes on a consistent basis. The backs aren't the type to make things happen on their own; they need a little bit of help.
Outlook: Alexander and Nwoke should be one of the Mountain West's best 1-2 punches, and there's enough talent waiting in the wings to expect more than the 95th ranked rushing offense in the country. Bibbs and Morris, at the very least, should be great backups.
Unit Rating: 5.5


There's good potential returning despite the loss of Marquise Law, who didn't was just okay with a mere 29 catches but was the deep threat on the X. Looking to take over as the top target again is Charles Lovett, the team's leading receiver with 35 catches for 428 yards and two touchdowns averaging 12.2 yards per catch. While he's not all that big at 5-8 and 182 pounds, he's a speedster who was a steady target throughout the year. Now he has to come up with more big plays either at the Z or the outside X.

With Law gone, sophomore Joe Hansley will give it a shot at the outside after finishing fourth on the team with 21 catches for 274 yards and three touchdowns. While he's not huge at 5-10 and 170 pounds compared to the 6-4 Law, the 2011 Gatorade College Player of the Year is strong for his size and can move. Junior Thomas Coffman is a 5-10, 180-pound versatile option who averaged 20.4 yards per catch helped by a 75-yard play against Wyoming. He'll start out at the Z but can play anywhere in the corps.

The tight end situation should be solid with senior Crockett Gillmore a good one who caught 19 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. The former defensive end has 6-6, 253-pound size and decent hands with the ability to fight his way open. Also back is 6-4, 237-pound junior Kivon Cartwright, an athletic receiver who finished third on the team with 26 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Fast and great at getting open, he's a natural receiver while Gillmore is more of a blocker.

Watch Out For … Sammie Long, the team's top recruit with the size and downfield speed to be a game-changer from the moment he gets on the field. The Washington native spurned the Huskies for the Rams, and at 6-4 and 190 pounds and tremendous upside, he'll quickly be the No. 1 target.
Strength: Tight end. Gillmore is an all-star caliber playmaker who can do a little of everything, while Cartwright has grown into a go-to weapon who can make the passing game go. They both have to be on the field at the same time.
Weakness: Dangerous receivers. Long might change that, but no one's going to be freaked out by Lovett, Hansley or Coffman. They have to prove they can be consistent.
Outlook: There's upside and experience. The tight ends are good enough to take the heat off the rest of the receivers, but it would be nice to have a star pass catching wideout who can be a threat to make ten grabs in a game.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

It's a veteran line that can't help but be a little bit better. The star of the front five is also the quarterback up front. 6-4, 297-pound senior Weston Richburg earned all-star honors after starting every game and doing a decent job for the ground game. One of the team's biggest-hitting blockers, he's a seasoned veteran who has done his part for a line that needs more work. Consistent, he's good on the move and doesn't make a slew of major mistakes against the quicker interior pass rushers.

Junior Ty Sambrailo started ten times last season at right tackle but will likely take over for Joe Caprioglio on the left side full time after seeing a little bit of time. At 6-5 and 305 pounds he has decent size and good quickness off the ball, but he needs to be stronger for the ground game and has to handle the power rushers. The key will be finding another option at tackle with 6-5, 280-pound star recruit Blake Nowland needing to get a bit bigger, but good enough to get a shot. 6-7, 320-pound senior Jared Biard came back from a torn ACL to start ten games before missing the final two games – he's destined for the right tackle job.

Senior Jordan Gragert is back at right guard with 6-4, 291-pound size and decent run blocking ability, while 6-3, 303-pound Brandon Haynes took over a starting job early last year and grew into the left tackle spot. While he's not huge, he's one of the team's stronger players.

Watch Out For … the second tackle spot on the other side of Sambrailo. Is Biard ready to be more of a pass blocker? Where are the reserves who can step in if needed? It's going to be worth watching for a line that struggled in pass protection.
Strength: Experience. The line only loses Capriglio at left tackle. The starting five should turn out to be more cohesive and stronger with enough veteran talent to hope for more …
Weakness: Production. The line hasn't been fixed over the last several years, but it's not for a lack of trying. The front five can't handle the better speed rushers on the outside with 30 sacks allowed while doing little to keep linemen out of the backfield.
Outlook: Will this be the year when everything comes together? The depth is very, very sketchy and there won't be much of a rotation, but there will be time to start developing for next year when there will be massive changes.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2013 Colorado State Preview | 2013 Colorado State Offense
- 2013 Colorado State Defense | 2013 Colorado State Depth Chart