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Colorado State Preview 2006 - Offense
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Colorado State Rams Preview 2006 - Colorado State Offense

What you need to know ... Colorado State turned into a passing team last year finishing 16th in the nation averaging 286 yards per game, but the ground game, when Kyle Bell was held in check, went kaput. Now there should be more of a balance with the passing attack going to be a little worse with Caleb Hanie taking over for Justin Holland at quarterback and without star receiver David Anderson to make big play after big play. The line is too big and too strong to not blow open bigger holes for Bell and the running game.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Caleb Hanie
13-29, 251 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Kyle Bell
276 carries, 1,268 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Johnny Walker
43 catches, 663 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Kyle Bell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Caleb Hanie
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Luke Roberts
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Kory Sperry
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bell, 2) Sperry, 3) G Josh Day
Strength of the offense: Running backs
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line depth

Colorado State shifted to becoming more of a passing team when Justin Holland was at the helm, but there will likely be more balance this year. Caleb Hanie showed impressive promise as a true freshman, but he wasn't able to see enough time to develop any further last year. He's a big bomber with good mobility in the pocket, and now he has to cut down on his mistakes, be more accurate, and grow into the role. Backups Billy Farris and Grant Stucker have no experience and must find time to develop. Farris is set at the two, while Stucker will be learning on the job at the three.
The key to the unit: Getting the backups ready while getting starter Caleb Hanie to hover around the 60% completion mark.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Caleb Hanie, Jr. - 13-29, 251 yds, 2 TD
In 2004, Hanie stepped in for an injured Justin Holland and did a decent job throwing for 1,204 yards and eight touchdowns, but with three interceptions, over the second half of the season. He didn't get much work last year with Holland able to go all season, but he did see a little bit or work in mop-up time. He's a big, 236-pound passer with good mobility and he should know the ropes after getting so many key reps over the last few seasons. The main concern early on is his accuracy and his consistency at keeping the offense moving.

Top Backups
- Billy Farris, Soph.
Farris isn't huge like Caleb Hanie, but he's a tall quarterback with a live arm and good skills. He has been a solid practice players and even saw a little bit of time in the blowout win over Nevada. The number two job is his as long as he can be consistent.
- Grant Stucker, RFr.
One of the team's top recruits two years ago, Stucker is the best all-around athlete among the quarterbacks. Now he needs more experience and meaningful practice reps after not getting much action in his redshirt season. If used, it's because the Rams are either looking for a change of pace or need an emergency quarterback.

Running Backs
Can Kyle Bell get some help? Colorado State got six 100 yards games out of its 225-pound star runner, but the team ignored the ground game when #34 wasn't getting it. The result is almost no experience among the reserves and a huge question mark if something happens to the workhorse of the offense. Gartrell Johnson is another big back who'll pound it out like Bell, while Tramell McGill and Alex Square will be the speed backs. The Rams didn't use their backs at all in the passing game last year and only use a fullback for blocking.
The key to the unit: Developing the reserves, finding a home-run hitter, and getting the ball more to the backs in the passing game.
Running Back Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Kyle Bell, Jr. - 276 carries, 1,288 yds, 4.7 ypc, 10 TD, 9 catches, 33 yds
Colorado's all-time leading high school rusher was the Colorado State ground game last year netting 1,288 of the team's 1,460 rushing yards. He's a 225-back who isn't afraid to use his size to hit defenders, and he has a little bit of breakaway speed. He's a smart back who doesn't make mistakes and rarely fumbles, however, he's not going to break off too many big runs and he isn't going to be used much as a receiver. When he was rolling last year, the Ram offense was tremendous as he had a huge three game stretch tearing off 183 yards against Nevada, 197 against Air Force and 140 against Utah. CSU won all three games. When he struggled, so did the team with the Rams losing all four times he ran for fewer than 75 yards.

- B-Back Tristan Walker, Sr. - 4 carries, 12 yds, 1 TD
The Rams don't like to use a true fullback, but they'll occasionally employ a "B-Back" for their two-back sets. Walker is a 255 pounder who'll occasionally be used as a short yardage back. He'll mostly come in to be a blocker for Kyle Bell on obvious running plays.

Top Backups
- Gartrell Johnson, Soph. - 11 carries, 26 yds
Johnson saw a little bit of work early in the year with all 11 of his carries coming against Minnesota and Nevada, and then he didn't see time the rest of the way. Like starter Kyle Bell, Johnson is a big back with power to go along with a good burst, but he has to stay healthy.
- Tramell McGill, Soph.
McGIll needs to see the ball. The 189-pound sophomore didn't see any action last year, but the former Arizona high school player of the year is a tremendous athlete who provides more speed than the main backs. He has to establish himself as a change-of-pace back by tearing off a few big runs early.
- Alex Square, RFr.
A pure speed back, the 5-9, 165-pound Square would be a perfect third-down back if the Rams ever used consistently used their running backs in the passing game. He could grow into the team's home run hitter.
- B-Back Kyle Van Horn, Jr.
Van Horn was injured and missed all of last year. Now he'll combine with Tristan Walker as the B-Back, or fullback. While Walker will get a few carries, Van Horn will primarily be a blocker.

It'll be up to several receivers to try to replace the lost production of underappreciated playmaker David Anderson, who caught 86 passes for 1,221 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Most of the top-end speed receivers have little experience, while Johnny Walker and Dustin Osborn have to prove they can be more than just complementary players. The H-Back situation is excellent with the return of Kory Sperry along with the Kevin McPeek back at H-Back.
The key to the unit: Getting Johnny Walker or Dustin Osborn to take hold of the role as a number one receiver while finally getting steady production from all the junior backups.
Receiver Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Johnny Walker, Jr. - 43 catches, 663 yds, 15.4 ypc, 2 TD
Walker appears to have made the transition from high school quarterback to receiver finishing second on the team in receptions last year. He was a big-play threat over the first half of last year with four 100-yards games, but he was held in check over the final four games of the season. While he has good speed and is great in the open field, he'll have to prove he can handle the responsibility of being the team's number one receiver now that David Anderson is gone.

- Dustin Osborn, Sr. - 19 catches, 293 yds, 15.4 ypc, 5 TD
The former walk-on saw his role diminish with the emergence of Johnny Walker, but he was still a decent deep target and now will take over the starting role at flanker. He made his big catches in bunched scoring three times in the loss to Minnesota and twice in the loss to Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl, and now the hope is for consistent production after catching two or more passes in a mere four games last season.

- Tight end Chris Kawulok, Soph.
Kawulok hit the weights hard over the last two years filling out his frame into a solid 251-pound blocker. He has experience, but he hasn't caught a pass yet used only to pound away for the ground game. Now he'll have show off some hands and become a reliable safety-valve target like former starter Matt Bartz used to be.

- H-Back Kory Sperry, Jr. - 42 catches, 547 yds, 13 ypc, 4 TD
There's a lot to get excited about with Sperry. He's a precise route runner and a huge, 6-6, 260-pound target with pillow soft hands finishing third on the team in receptions. The knee injury that cost him most of last spring wasn't an issue, and now he should blossom into an All-Mountain West performer if new starting quarterback Caleb Hanie can keep feeding him the ball.

Top Backups
- Luke Roberts, Jr. - 16 catches, 293 yds, 18.3 ypc, 2 TD
It's just a question of time before Roberts becomes one of the team's best offensive weapons. He averaged a whopping 18.4 yards per catch highlighted by a 123-yard, one touchdown day against Air Force, but he wasn't able to show off his deep play ability too much the rest of the way. At 6-2 and 218 pounds, he's a much bigger target at flanker than Dustin Osborn.
- George Hill, Jr. - 12 catches, 118 yds, 9.8 ypc, 1 TD
Hill is a rail-thin 177 pounds on a 5-11 frame, but he's the best all-around athlete in the receiving corps with 4.4 wheels and tremendous leaping ability. Now he has to be used more as a deep threat after averaging a mere 9.8 yards per catch. His biggest role will likely be as the team's top kickoff returner after averaging 20.2 yards per try last season.
- Damon Morton, Jr. - 4 catches, 101 yds, 25.2 ypc
It hasn't really clicked yet for Morton. He has led the team in yards per catch over the last two seasons, but he only has ten career grabs. He'll occasionally get the ball on reverses and should start to see more passes his was as the third man in the flanker mix.
- Tight end Tyler Jorgensen, RFr.
Jorgensen spent last year in the weight room and now will combine with Chris Kawulok at tight end. His playing time will depend on his development as a blocker.
- H-Back Kevin McPeek, Soph.

McPeek had a rough season missing most of the year after recovering from an illness that slimmed him down to 200 pounds. He's up to 237 and should be back in playing shape enough to start to build on the promise of a strong true freshman year as a star on the scout team.

Offensive Linemen
Three starters return to a line that wasn't all that bad last season, but has to be more physical in the running game. It's a big line among the starting five, but there's no appreciable D-I experience among the backups and disaster will strike the offense if there's an injury problem early on in the season. The tackles are athletic for their size, while the interior is very strong.
The key to the unit: Quickly developing the reserve and getting more holes opened up for the running game.
Offensive Line Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- OT Clint Oldenburg, Sr.
The former tight end and guard looked like a natural at tackle as the season went on, and now he'll be one of the team's steadiest blockers with 22 career starts under his belt. He's an athletic 297 pounds who's best in pass protection.
- OG Jerome Williams, Sr.
The bulldozer on the line, the 6-2, 334-pound senior doesn't have great feet, but he should add more pop to the ground game as the team's biggest lineman. He has a little bit of starting experience, and he should benefit from playing on the left side next to Clint Oldenburg.
- C Nick Allotta, Jr.
Allotta stepped into the starting job and was solid enough to expect a big season as the anchor of the line. He's a great athlete for being 6-3 and 304 pounds with tremendous strength.
- OG Josh Day, Sr.
Day should be the best player on the line. He has 22 career starts and has the size at 6-4 and 304 pounds to become a better run blocker. He has gotten bigger and stronger, and it should all pay off with an all-conference caliber season.
- OT Dane Stratton, Soph.
An understudy for the last two seasons and a decent reserve last year, it'll be Stratton's job on the right side. He has the size a 6-5 and 299 pounds, and now he has to show he can be a consistent pass protector.

Top Backups
- OT Justin D'Arcy, Sr.
D'Arcy only saw time in one game last year, but the former JUCO transfer has the size at 315 pounds, and the experience from his pre-CSU days, to be a key reserve at right tackle behind Dane Stratton.
- OG Daniel Crews, Soph.
Crews appeared ready to be a top backup last year before suffering an arm injury that cost him the season. At 6-4 and 313 pounds, he's the biggest reserve guard playing behind Jerome Williams on the left side.

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