Colorado State Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Colorado State used to be known as a Big Ten-like team playing in the Mountain West thanks to a power running game and a gritty, punch-you-in-the-mouth defense.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Unfortunately, over the last two season head coach Sonny Lubick's club has turned into a bunch of fancy lads finishing 111th against the run in 2004 and 117th last year. While injuries were the problem a few seasons ago and inexperience hurt in 2005, it still wasn't pretty to watch missed tackle after missed tackle.

Offensively, Ram fans used to seeing a solid running game had to be peeved to see the attack turn so pass happy. The Rams have averaged over 201 rushing yards per game in the 101 wins under Lubick and averaged 124 in the 56 losses. With pure-passing quarterback Justin Holland at the helm last year  the air attack was sensational throwing for 286 yards per game, but the ground game suffered averaging a mere 122 yards per outing. Now it's time to go back to Colorado State football.

The backfield has 225 pounders Kyle Bell and Gantrell Johnson to power the ground game behind an experienced offensive line, but it'll be tempting to keep chucking the ball around in the high-octane Mountain West.  The defense has enough experience to be far better if all the past playing time actually turns into production and the kicking game should be one of the best in the league. In other words, the potential is there for a return to the glory days.

Head coach: Sonny Lubick
14th year: (101-56)
17th year overall: 122-76
Returning Lettermen: 47
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Ram Players
RB Kyle Bell, Jr.
2. CB Robert Herbert, Sr.
3. SS Ben Stratton, Sr.
4. DE Jesse Nading, Jr.
5. P Jimmie Kaylor, Jr.
6. TE Kory Sperry, Jr.
7. QB Caleb Hanie, Jr.
8. WR Johnny Walker, Jr.
9. G Josh Day, Sr.
10. DT Blake Smith, Soph. 

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 Weber State
9/9 Colorado
9/16 at Nevada
9/30 at Fresno State
10/7 UNLV
10/12 at Air Force
10/21 at Wyoming
10/28 New Mexico
11/4 BYU
11/11 at Utah
11/25 TCU
12/2 at San Diego State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 6-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Colorado L 31-28
9/17 at Minnesota L 56-24
9/24 Nevada W 42-21
10/1 Air Force W 41-23
10/8 Utah W 21-17
10/15 at BYU L 24-14
10/22 Wyoming W 39-31
10/28 at New Mexico W 35-25
11/5 at TCU L 33-6
11/12 San Diego State L 30-10
11/19 at UNLV W 31-27
12/23 Poinsettia Bowl
Navy L 51-30

For all the negatives, last season wasn't all that bad overcoming a rough start to get to a bowl game. There were a few problems from the power outage late in the year in losses to TCU and San Diego State by a combined score of 63-16, but there were wins over good teams like Nevada and Utah and a total of six victories despite a horrific year from the defense.

So now the question becomes whether or not Colorado State can become a true player in the Mountain West again. It depends on how physical the team can become and it depends on if Lubick can summon some of the same magic that made him such a hot commodity a few years ago. If there can be just a little bit of overall improvement, the Rams could surprise and be in the mix for the conference title late in November.

The Schedule: The Rams finally get a scrimmage in before the Colorado showdown playing Weber State in the opener. This will be a battle-tested team for Mountain West play after going on the road to face WAC heavyweights Nevada and Fresno State, while there's no better way to ease into the conference slate than a home date with UNLV. It'll all come down to November playing BYU, at Utah and TCU in four-week span. CSU will likely be conference champs if it wins all three of those, and it'll be in the hunt by winning two of the three. 

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Kyle Bell. He was ganged up on by the better run defenses, but his bruising running style provided a nice ying to the passing game's yang. It'll be up to him to carry the offense even more this season and take some of the pressure off QB Caleb Hanie.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Robert Hebert. He has been one of the nation's top tackling corners over the last two seasons along with being one of the Mountain West leaders in broken up passes. He's a big corner who packs a wallop with his hits, but just being a solid cover-corner would be enough for the Rams this year.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DTs Blake Smith and Matt Rupp. They're a little on the light side with Smith, a big-time recruit, checking in at under 270 pounds on the nose and Rupp, a tremendous weightlifter, a 275-pound tackle. They have to play big or the run defense has no hope of improving. 

The season will be a success if ... CSU finishes second in the Mountain West. There are a few too many holes on both sides of the ball from the depth problems on the offensive line to a lack of a proven number one receiver to all the major issues with the run defense. Even so, the schedule is nice and the team really isn't all that bad. Finishing second in the race would be a very nice season and the springboard for what should hopefully be a really big 2007.

Key game: Nov. 11 at Utah. New Mexico, BYU and TCU have to come to Fort Collins, and any team that wants to be the Mountain West champion has to plan on taking care of business at home in all three games. The one trouble spot in the home oasis is the road trip to Utah. If the Rams beat the Utes, they'll be flying high with two weeks off to rest before the showdown with the Horned Frogs.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 138 - Colorado State 68
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 5.1 - Colorado State 3.5
- CSU points by quarter: 1st 61, 2nd 68, 3rd 68, 4th 124

The Last Time Colorado State…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Poinsettia Bowl vs. Navy)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…1997(Hawaii)
…was shutout…2004 (USC)
…scored 50 points…2003 (BYU)
…went undefeated…1916
…won a conference title…2002 (Mountain West)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (Justin Holland)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Kyle Bell)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (David Anderson)
…had a first-round draft choice…1987 (QB Kelly Stouffer)

Related Stories
Colorado State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Colorado State Preview 2006 Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
Colorado State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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