CFN Take: Colorado State Loses Late To AF

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 28, 2014


Colorado State Rams 2014 ... Head Coach: Jim McElwain

Colorado State Rams

2014 Schedule
Record: 10-2

Aug. 30 Colorado (Den) W 31-17
Sep. 6 at Boise State L 37-24
Sep. 13 UC Davis W 49-21
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 at Boston Coll W 24-21
Oct. 4 Tulsa W 42-17
Oct. 11 at Nevada W 31-24
Oct. 18 Utah State W 16-13
Oct. 25 Wyoming W 45-31
Nov. 1 at San Jose State
Nov. 8 Hawaii W 49-22
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 New Mexico W 58-20
Nov. 29 at Air Force L 27-24
Nov. 28 at Air Force 27, Colorado State 24
And You Care Because … Air Force stunned Colorado State and ruined a possible dream season with a 39-yard Will Conant field goal as time expired. The Falcons had a 24-10 lead late in the third quarter after Nate Romine gave the team its third short scoring run of the game, but Colorado State roared back with Garrett Grayson finding Xavier Williams for a 76-yard touchdown and Rashard Higgins for a two-yard score. But after coming up with a fourth down stop, Air Force had one last chance with 38 seconds remaining with Romine finding Garrett Brown for a 26-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal.
What Else? Air Force QB Nate Romine completed 6-of-15 passes for 135 yards, and ran 25 times for a team-high 61 yards
- Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught 12 passes for 193 yards and two scores
- Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran 23 times for 115 yards
- Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 23-of-46 passes for 366 yards and three scores with a pick
Game Rating: B+

Nov. 22 at Colorado State 58, New Mexico 20
And You Care Because … Colorado State’s Dee Hart scored six touchdowns with three scoring runs in the second quarter – highlighted by a 76-yard dash – and catching a 20-yard touchdown pass – and Rashard Higgins caught touchdown passes from seven and four yards out on the way to a 51-7 lead. Hart’s 55-yard touchdown run late in the third put a cap on Ram blowout. New Mexico turned it over four times, but got touchdown runs from Lamar Jordan, Rommell Jordan and Teriyon Gibson – the defense couldn’t come up with a stop.
What Else? Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran 20 times for 230 yards and five touchdowns, and caught two passes for 42 yards and a score
- New Mexico QB Lamar Jordan completed 3-of-11 passes for 55 yards and two scores, and ran 14 times for 74 yards and a touchdown
- Total yards: Colorado State 698 – New Mexico 356
- Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught ten passes for 167 yards and two scores
Game Rating: C-

Nov. 8 at Colorado State 49, Hawaii 22
And You Care Because … Garrett Grayson found Charles Lovett for a 52-yard score and Steven Walker for a 30-yard touchdown as part of a four touchdown pass day. Treyous Jarrells added two touchdown passes and Dee Hart cranked out a seven-yard scoring run. Hawaii only came up with a safety and two Tyler Hadden field goals, but was down 35-8 before finally getting into the end zone on a two-yard Joey Iosefa run.
What Else? Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 13-of-24 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns
- Hawaii QB Ikaiaki Woolsey completed 16-of-47 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown with two picks
- Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran 11 times for 115 yards and a score
- Total yards: Colorado State 580 – Hawaii 352
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 25 at Colorado State 45, Wyoming 31
And You Care Because … Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson threw five touchdown passes including two to Rashard Higgins from 43 and 73 yards out on the way to a blowout. Grayson bombed away early, getting it to Dee Hart for a 21-yard score and Joe Hansley for a 65-yard touchdown. Wyoming was down 31-3 before finally getting into the end zone in the third quarter on the first of two Brian Hill one-yard runs. The Cowboys got two late touchdown passes from Colby Kirkegaard.
What Else? Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 18-of-21 passes for 390 yards and five touchdowns
- Wyoming QB Colby Kirkegaard completed 24-of-38 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns
- Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught five passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns
- Wyoming RB Brian Hill ran 28 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 18 at Colorado State 16, Utah State 13
And You Care Because … Jared Roberts hit a game-tying field goal for Colorado State from 46 yards out with less than two minutes to play, and then wont it on another 46-yarder with no time left on the clock. Roberts hit his first of three field goals in the first half on a 52-yarder, but the Rams got a touchdown early on a one-yard Dee Hart run. Utah State managed two Nick Diaz field goals and only got into the end zone on a 59-yard Joe Hill run in the first quarter.
What Else? Penalties: Colorado State 11 for 116 yards – Utah State 6 for 45 yards
- Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught ten passes for 187 yards
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 14-of-19 passes for 132 yards with an interception before leaving an apparent arm injury
- Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 20-of-31 passes for 243 yards
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 11 Colorado State 31, at Nevada 24
And You Care Because … Garrett Grayson threw three touchdown passes including a 51-yarder to Rashard Higgins, and Dee Hart ran for a nine-yard touchdown on the way to a 31-3 Colorado State third quarter lead. Nevada made it interesting with 21 unanswered points with Cody Fajardo running for a score and throwing two touchdown passes with an 11-yarder to Richy Turner to make it a seven point game with just over six minutes to play. Fajardo would get one more chance, driving down to the Ram ten, but he was picked off by DeAndre Ellington with 46 seconds to play and CSU held on.
What Else? Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught ten passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
- Nevada QB Cody Fajardo completed 27-of-50 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran 12 times for a team-leading 88 yards and a touchdown
- Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 26-of-36 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns
- Nevada WR Jerico Richardson caught ten passes for 122 yards
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 4 at Colorado State 42, Tulsa 17
And You Care Because … Rashard Higgins caught three first half touchdown passes from 28, 31 and 73 yards out, and added a 36-yard touchdown in the fourth, and Dee Hart ran for touchdowns from 15 and 13 yards away in the blowout. Tulsa tried to stay alive with a one-yard Dane Evans run and a 62-yard pass play to Keevan Lucas, but never got close.
What Else? Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught six passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 16-of-29 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown with two picks, and ran 16 times for 22 yards and a score
- Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns
- Yards per carry: Colorado State 7.5 – Tulsa 2.8
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 27 Colorado State 24, at Boston College 21
And You Care Because … Facing fourth down with just over a minute to play, Colorado State got a 12-yard Garrett Grayson to Charles Lovell touchdown pass from 12 yards out to complete the rally for the win. BC got out to a 14-0 lead on short touchdown runs from Jon Hilliman and Tyler Murphy, but Colorado State came back with a 21-yard Rashard Higgins touchdown catch and a six-yard scoring run from Treyous Jarrells to tie it up. Hilliman ran for a five-yard score late in the third to give BC the lead, but it was all Colorado State in the second half as the D held up against the Eagle ground game.
What Else? Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 27-of-41 passes for 268 yards and two scores with two picks
- Boston College QB Tyler Murphy completed 12-of-18 passes for 169 yards with a pick, and ran 16 times for 79 yards and a touchdown
- Colorado State RB Dee Hart ran ten times for 117 yards
- Boston College RB Jon Hilliman ran 24 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 13 at Colorado State 49, UC Davis 21
And You Care Because … Garrett Grayson ripped apart the UC Davis pass defense throwing four touchdown passes and Jasen Oden Jr. ran for scores from one and 50 yards out as Colorado State rolled to a big win. Grayson connected with Rashard Higgins on scoring plays from 15 and 52 yards out, and he started out the scoring with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Charles Lovett. UCD pulled within seven in the first quarter on an 11-yard Mark Martindale scoring run, but 21 straight Ram points put it away.
What Else? Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 22-of-31 passes for 425 yards and four scores.
- CSU RB Dee Hart ran eight times for 38 yards. Treyous Jarrells ran 12 times for 84 yards and a score.
- Total yards: Colorado State 676 – UC Davis 379
Game Rating: D

Sept. 6 at Boise State 37, Colorado State 24
And You Care Because … Boise State broke open a close game with 24 straight points with two of Jay Ajayi’s four touchdowns scoring from 14 and 21 yards out in the second after coming up with an eight-yarder in the first. Grant Hedrick ran for a score and found Matt Miller for a 44-yard touchdown. Colorado State tried to rally late with Garrett Grayson finding Joe Hansley for a 55-yard touchdown pass and hitting Jasen Oden Jr. for a seven-yarder, but couldn’t get closer than 13.
What Else? Boise State RB Jay Ajayi ran 33 times for 219 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
- The Colorado State running game that rocked Colorado was shut down cold. Dee Hart ran ten times for 16 yards, and the team finished with 28 yards on 23 carries.
- CSU QB Garrett Grayson completed 31-of-58 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns with two picks. Joe Hansley caught seven passes for 149 yards and a score and Rashard Higgins caught 11 passes for 143 yards.
- Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 22-of-33 passes for 352 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Matt Miller caught eight passes for 151 yards and a score.
Game Rating: C+

Aug. 29 Colorado State 31 … Colorado 17
And You Care Because … Dee Hart rumbled and pounded his way for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Treyous Jarrells added 121 yards and a score as Colorado State scored 24 unanswered points to get past the Buffs. Colorado took a 17-7 lead on the second Sefo Liufau to Nelson Spruce touchdown pass of the game, but that was it for the offense – the Ram running game took over.
What Else? The Ram offensive line was fantastic. It got better and better as the game went on, but it also helped to have an Alabama running back in Dee Hart transferring in and cranking out 6.3 yards per carry with 139 yards on 22 runs. He also led the team with 35 receiving yards on three catches.
- Colorado didn’t put the Rams away. There were chances in the first half to take full control, and the touchdown early in the second half stopped the momentum after the Rams scored late before halftime, but all of a sudden, the Buffs couldn’t tackle and there was no stopping Hart.
- It’ll get lost in the shuffle, but CSU PK Jared Roberts had a tremendous night, putting four of his six kickoffs into the end zone and nailing a 52-yard bomb.
- Addison Gilliam did what he could for the Colorado defense, making ten tackles and three tackles for loss, but the line got beaten up and battered – this was a gassed D. Fortunately, until late October, Arizona State is the only team on the schedule who can run.
Game Rating: B

2014 Preview 

Now that’s more like it.

Colorado State was too good a program for too long to be a perennial also-ran at best, doormat at worst, and now head coach Jim McElwain might be on the verge of doing something big in the Mountain West.

It’s his third year at the helm, and while it took a little while to get the right guys and the right pieces in place, last year the running game started to work again like it did in the Sonny Lubick days. Kapri Bibbs helped the attack blow up for over 200 yards per game, while the passing game was efficient and effective. The wins started coming again, and while there weren’t any major regular season shockers, that’s okay – beat the bad teams in the new, bigger Mountain West and you’ll be okay.

And then came the comeback, and the season was defined.

Bowl games are supposed to be self-contained entities, and the success or failure doesn’t translate into anything the following season, but Colorado State’s shocking comeback win to beat Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl was, if nothing else, a chance for Ram fans to have something big to celebrate with the first winning season and the first bowl victory since 2008. It also gave the program something to rally around.

Yeah, winning is fun. Now it’s time to do more of it.

Momentum is whatever the next opponent is, and while Colorado State has a difficult schedule to deal with, and no more Bibbs to hand off to, the team and the program appear to be on the rise. The passing game might be more of a factor this year with QB Garrett Grayson back along with most of this top targets.

Six starters are back on a defense that wasn’t exactly a rock, and it wasn’t consistent, but was stronger than it was a few years ago with a better run defense to make up for a shaky secondary. But all that matters is the win-loss column, and the Rams came up with the most since 2002, and now there’s the infrastructure to do far more.


What to watch for on offense: Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin’s attack should be extremely interesting, but it’ll take a little bit of luck and a few tweaks to match the tremendous production of 2012. The quarterback situation is set with Garrett Grayson ready to become a Mountain West star with a nice group of receivers to play around with. Star RB Kapri Bibbs might be gone, but there are options including former safety Jasen Oden, who could turn into more of a receiver. The problem? The line that loses four starters and only welcomes back Ty Sambrailo on the left side.

What to watch for on defense: The defense that was so rough for so long wasn’t a rock, but it had some positives. The pass rush was great, the run defense was terrific, and the pass defense … the run defense was terrific. The secondary, though, should be a wee bit better if experience means anything, but the real strength is a loaded linebacking corps with the trio of Max Morgan, Aaron Davis and Cory James forming one of the best in the Mountain West. The big concern is a line that loses all four starters, but it has just enough decent prospects returning to not fall completely off the map.

The team will be far better if … the offensive line comes together in a hurry. For all of the excitement and all of the positives, the lines needs an overhaul losing everyone on the defensive front and only getting back one starter on the offensive line, senior Ty Sambrailo. Last season the veteran front five allowed just 21 sacks on 480 passes while pounding away for 2,861 rushing yards and 37 scores. Considering the pass protection was a complete and utter disaster in 2010, giving up 44 sacks, and improved steadily since then, this might be the year when the production reverts to previous form unless the coaching staff gets creative. Also, the running game that ran for just 1,546 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012 can’t take a step back.

The schedule: Get through the first half of the season, and then it should be smooth sailing. The Rams will know where they stand right away in the Mountain West chase with a road trip to Boise State after kicking off the season with the annual rivalry date with Colorado. With a road game at Nevada and a showdown with Utah State to follow the week after, the conference campaign could be made or broken by mid-October. Things up in a big, big way over the second half of the year facing five straight teams that didn’t go bowling with four games in five before closing out against Air Force.

Best offensive player: Senior OT Ty Sambrailo. The hope is for QB Garrett Grayson to play like an all-star, and there’s a chance new running back Jasen Oden turns into another Kapri Bibbs, but the best player on the line should be the veteran left tackle who has to be even better with the other four starters gone. An all-star, he has turned into a terrific pass protector while also using good technique to improve as a pass blocker. The line is his, and he needs to play like the leader up front.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Cory James. Add fellow liinebackers Max Morgan and Aaron Davis into the ring, too. With a new front line that needs to get its feet wet, the linebacking corps should be able to take care of most of the problems, let by the pass rushing James from the outside. Big, and more than strong enough to handle himself on the inside against the run, he's at his best when he's turned loose into the backfield. With Morgan and Davis taking the pressure off, James should be a force.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Terry Jackson. End Joe Kawulok has experience and turned in a nice year as a pass rushing end, but the Rams need bodies on the inside to hold up and rock against the run with Calvin Tonga and Curtis Wilson gone. While he’s not huge, the 6-1, 275-pound Jackson is active making 29 tackles in the rotation with a sack and 5.5 tackles for loss. He’s not going to be an anchor, but he has to be a solid factor for the run D.

The season will be a success if … the Rams win the Mountain. It might take an upset win on the road over Boise State to get it done, and going to Nevada won’t be fun, but schedule is just good enough for an above-average team to do big things with. A second straight winning season for the first time since 2002-2003 would be a major positive, but McElwain will have his team shooting for more.

Key game: Sept. 6 at Boise State. Utah State should be very, very good, but the Rams get the game in Fort Collins. The Boise State game is the big one – lose that, and CSU probably has to be perfect the rest of the way. A win, though, announces that yeah, this is the team to beat for the Mountain and should make some national noise. One problem – Boise State is 3-0 over the last three years in the series winning by a combined score of 147 to 57.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Rushing Yards Per Game: Colorado State 204.4 – Opponents 140.6
- Fourth Down Conversions: Colorado State 15-of-25 (60%) – Opponents 14-of-29 (48%)
- Rushing TDs: Colorado State 37 – Opponents 16

- 2014 Colorado State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players
 


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