Colorado State Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Colorado State Rams Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Ring This – Throughout head coach Sonny Lubick’s coaching stint in Fort Collins, the power zone running game seemed to define the Rams’ offensively.  Even when gunslingers like Bradlee Van Pelt and Justin Holland were playing pitch and catch around the field, runners like Cecil Sapp, Damon Washington and Kevin McDougal added the power and about 20 to 25 carries per game.  In 2004, the Rams didn’t have that threat.  In 2005, Kyle Bell brought that aspect back to the Ram offense.  Although Bell wasn’t a well known name to many around the MWC, he made sure that teams knew exactly who he was by season’s end.  The junior-to-be finished the season with 1,166 yards, one of the best single season performances in Ram history.  But, more importantly, he helped give the Rams back their identity as an offense.  Well, he’s going to need to be more of the offense in 2006, and every team in the MWC knows it.  Or, should know it.  With Justin Holland graduating and Caleb Hanie taking over at quarterback, the pressure is on Bell to pile up the carries, especially early in the season.  Consequently, if Hanie can keep eight guys out of the box with good play action and waggle throws downfield, then Bell could be even more dangerous as the season progresses.  The key to another bowl trip is going to be Bell’s running ability.

2nd and Seven – You Run on me, I’ll run on you – The MWC has its share of good running attacks, and varied ones at that.  Utah’s spread.  Air Force’s option.  CSU’s power zone game.  TCU’s multiple spread option.  At some point, you better stop one aspect of it.  Colorado State didn’t do that at any point last year, including struggling against Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.  The Ram defense gave up 201 yards per game, ranking somewhere near the bottom of the NCAA rankings.  If there’s one focus for this team, this defense, it’s got to be stopping the run.  Uh, like you didn’t know that already. 

3rd and Three – Needing Nading – Although the defense struggled throughout the 2005 season, one player who gained attention with his play was Jesse Nading, soon-to-be junior defensive end.  Following in the large footsteps of former Rams Clark Haggans and Joey Porter is one thing, but holding this unit together with young players dotting the two deep is another.  The Ram DE has to be a dominant factor off the edge and help take away any perimeter rushing game.  He’s only 252 pounds, but he’s the best defensive player at CSU.

4th and One – A shot of Johnny Walker – Last year when the Rams threw the ball, it was going to David Anderson.  And, with very good reason.  But, Anderson is off to the NFL in 2006, leaving second leading receiver Johnny Walker, and perhaps the biggest game breaking threat on this squad, as the team’s go-to receiver.  Anderson was so good at making the clutch catch and he was the guy that former Ram QBs Bradlee Van Pelt and Justin Holland looked up in a big situation.  The Rams need for Walker, he of the 41 catches last season, to be Hanie’s guy this fall.  He’s a wonderful return specialist, but the Rams need an additional 65 to 70 catches from Walker.  Just a little shot of Johnny Walker can work wonders.

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