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2007 Colorado State Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 1, 2007


Preview 2007 Colorado State Ram Offense

Colorado State Rams

Preview 2007
- Offense

- 2007 Colorado State Preview | 2007 CSU Defense Preview
-
2007 CSU Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Colorado State Preview 

What you need to know:
There's no reason for the Ram offense to be far, far better. Nine starters are back, led by the return of power back Kyle Bell from a knee injury to save a ground game that was among the worst in America. Caleb Hanie is a veteran passer with one of the Mountain West's best receiving corps at his disposal. It all comes down to a line that gets the interior back, but has to find consistent tackles who can protect Hanie. Keeping Bell healthy is also vital. There was no rushing production two years ago when he wasn't on, and there was nothing happening last year with him on the sidelines.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Caleb Hanie
209-342, 2,427 yds, 11 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Gartell Johnson
109 carries, 305 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Johnny Walker
58 catches, 586 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Kyle Bell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT Cole Pemberton
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB John Mosure
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Kory Sperry
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bell, 2) Sperry, 3) C Nick Allotta
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Forced to do everything last year with no help from the running game, senior Caleb Hanie struggled. He completed 61% of his passes for 2,427 yards, but he only threw 11 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions. He's a 6-2, 236-pound bomber who's been a major factor in the offense for the last three years. While he's getting better at spreading the ball around, he has a hard time consistently moving the offense, failing to throw for 300 yards even though everything revolved around the passing game. Worse yet, he struggled mightily against the top Mountain West teams down the stretch. Even though he might not be a runner, he'll take off now and then and make things happen.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 212-pound junior Billy Farris has a live arm and good potential, but he's the clear number two behind Hanie. He saw a little bit of time completing 11 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and he showed off good mobility with 68 rushing yards. The odds on favorite to be the 2008 starter, the more work he gets this year will be a big plus.

Sophomore Grant Stucker was a big recruit for the program a few years ago, but he hasn't been able to get out of the number three spot. He's 6-2, 201 pounds and can move. The best athlete among the quarterbacks, he'd provide a change of pace in an emergency situation.

Watch Out For ... consistent play from Hanie. Getting Kyle Bell back will help the running game out, taking some of the pressure off Hanie and the passing attack. He won't have to force things.
Strength
:
Arms. Hanie, Farris and Stucker can all throw. The backups have been around long enough to not be cold if they have to play, while Hanie has been a part of the mix for the last three season.
Weakness
:
Production. When the offense needed Hanie to shine and to carry the offense, he didn't. If he doesn't show a spark of something special right away, will the coaching staff pull the plug to get Farris and Stucker more meaningful work?
Outlook: It's time for Hanie to grow into a (sorry for the cliché) game manager. He has the receiving corps. He has an improved line. He has a running game. Now he has to use all his weapons and everything around him, including his experience, to put points on the board. Farris and Stucker are good backup options to keep developing.
Rating:
6

Running Backs

Projected Starter: The Ram running game appeared to be on the way to being tremendous, and then Kyle Bell tore up his knee late in fall practices and missed the entire season. The 6-2, 232-pound junior ran for 1,288 yards and ten touchdowns in 2005 showing off the power and speed to make him one of the Mountain West's premier players. Can his knee hold up? That's the question mark going into the season, but after having more than 12 months to heal, he should be fine. While he's not going to catch many passes and won't tear off many big runs, he'll be a tough power back and will provide some desperately needed balance to the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: 230-pound junior Gartrell Johnson led the team in rushing, but he only tore off 305 yards. A pure short-yardage back who's great around the goal line, scoring six times, his longest run was just 15 yards. He'll likely serve more as a fullback or a blocker for Bell than as a pure tailback.

Johnson will be in a dogfight with 208-pound junior Michael Myers and 190-pound redshirt freshman John Mosure for the number two gig. Myers was the team's third leading rusher with 179 yards in a limited role, but he didn't do much to make plays on his own and only had one big performance (rushing for 68 yards against San Diego State). Mosure was a runner-up for the 2005 Mr. Florida award and was one of the stars of spring ball. He's not necessarily a speed back, but he has a nice burst and is productive; he's always coming up with positive yards.

Watch Out For ... Mosure. The only thing missing is experience. After Myers and Johnson didn't do anything last year in Bell's absence, Mosure will likely get the benefit of the doubt as a number two back.
Strength
:
Power. Between Bell and Johnson, coming up with the hard yard or two won't be a problem. Even Myers and Mosure can bang through the line.
Weakness
:
The backups. Just because there are veterans among the backups, that doesn't mean they can play. Hence, the emergence of Mosure, but he doesn't have any experience.
Outlook: The return of Bell will save the nation's 113th ranked running game. An improved offensive line will help the cause, but it's Bell who'll make the ground game sink or swim. Several backup options are ready to see time, but they'll only get in if something happens to the star.
Rating:
7.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: The team's leading receiver last season was senior Johnny Walker with 58 catches for 586 yards. As good as he was as a steady receiver, after making ten catches for 158 yards early on against Colorado, he didn't get into the end zone. While he can be a big-play threat, he hasn't done enough to stretch the field and he hasn't been dangerous enough to scare anyone as a number one target.

Back at flanker is senior Luke Roberts, who made 23 catches for 309 yards and two scores. At 6-2 and 206 pounds, he has a big frame and can provide matchup problems, but he regressed a bit last year after breaking out as a deep threat as a sophomore. The offense will start getting him the ball deep on a more regular basis.

At the H-Back, a hybrid of tight end and fullback in the Ram offensive system, will once again be 6-6, 260-pound senior Kory Sperry. The team's top red-zone target with nine scores in two years, he's a great route runner with great hands. While he doesn't use his big body enough as a blocker, his receiving skills, with 36 catches for 380 yards and five scores, make him one of the key cogs in the attack.

At tight end will be junior Chris Kawulok, who started 11 games but didn't make any catches. He's a solid 6-3, 244-pound blocker who has seen extensive action over the last two years, but he's not involved in the passing game. Sperry is used as the receiving tight end.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Damon Morton isn't a starter, but he might as well be with the time he sees in three-wide sets and in the rotation behind Walker. He was second on the team with 48 catches for 722 yards and four touchdowns, and while he cooled off after a great two-game stretch against Fresno State and UNLV, he was a dangerous deep threat. He was the team's leader in yards per catch over two years and averaged 15 yards per catch last season.

Waiting to break out is 6-1, 202-pound sophomore Rashaun Greer, who didn't get any work last year but will be a top backup behind Roberts at flanker. One of the fastest players in the entire league, he's a star hurdler on the CSU track team and now has to bring his elite wheels to the offense to provide even more of a deep threat than Roberts.

5-11, 184-pound senior George Hill is one of the team's faster players and best all-around athletes, but he averaged a mere 3.9 yards per catch on his 12 grabs. The third man in the split end mix behind Walker and Morton, he'll see a little time here and there.

Sophomore Kevin McPeek will be the top backup H-Back, and could step in and start if Sperry sees time at tight end. After missing almost all of 2005 with an illness, it took a year to get his body up to 245 pounds on his 6-6 frame. A good receiver, despite only making one catch for 11 yards, he'll be used more.

Watch Out For ... more deep passes. There's too much speed and too many weapons to not start chucking the ball downfield. The corps should average far more than the 11.8 yards per catch it cranked out last season.
Strength
:
Experience. CSU gets the top three receivers back and five of the top six. Everyone knows what they're doing.
Weakness
:
A star number one. Walker isn't enough of a threat to be the go-to guy who'll scare opposing defenses. While the passing game is good at spreading it around, it would be nice if there was one guy who could be counted on for 7-10 catches in a pinch.
Outlook: The starters are crusty veterans, the backups are speedy, and there are plenty of options and weapons to work with. Overall, it's not a stretch to call this the best receiving corps yet under Sunny Lubick with at least five players capable of catching 30 passes this season.
Rating:
8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Three starters return to a line that wasn't even remotely close to being consistent in pass protection, but the two new starters are on the outside. Junior Dane Stratton and sophomore Cole Pemberton will occupy the tackle spots, with Stratton trying to be the starter he was supposed to be going into last year. At 6-5 and 298 pounds, he has decent size with good enough athleticism to be a consistent pass blocker, but he only got one start last year, serving as a backup. The 6-7, 318-pound Pemberton is a huge blocker who spent last year learning the ropes as a reserve. He has the frame, the strength and the size, now he needs to prove he can block on a regular basis.

The interior is set, led by 6-3, 305-pound center Nick Allota. The two-year starter is the best blocker up front and one of the few who can generate a push for the ground game. He's a desperately needed anchor for the rest of the line to revolve around.

Back at guard are sophomores Scott Benedict and Adrian Martinez, who struggles after being thrown to the wolves early on. The 6-4, 300-pound Martinez is coming off a dislocated kneecap that cost him most of spring ball, but he's supposed to be back and healthy this fall. A ten-game starter last season, he's one of the seasoned veterans up front. The 6-4, 294-pound Benedict took over a starting spot midway through the season, and while he had a few problems, showed great promise.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Marvin Arnold started the first four games of last year before suffering a leg injury. At 6-4 and 294 pounds, he's a smaller tackle option than Pemberton on the left side, but if he doesn't take over the starting job, he'll provide an excellent backup.

On the other side challenging for time is 6-5, 298-pound redshirt freshman Brian Lepac, a rising star at right tackle who had a great spring. A smart, tough blocker, he could see time anywhere on the line if needed. If Stratton struggles, Lepac will quickly step in and produce.

Watch Out For ... Lepac. Stratton has been a career reserve who wasn't able to break through as expected last year. Lepac, along with Arnold, might be the starters sooner than later.
Strength
:
Allotta. A good quarterback for the line, he's the steady starter the rest of the line needs to make everyone around him better.
Weakness
:
Pass protection. The line didn't do anything for the running game, but CSU was a pure passing team from the start. Even so, the line gave up way too many sacks (41) and almost got Caleb Hanie killed.
Outlook: The line will be better, but it hasn't been physical in several years and didn't use its overall athleticism to do anything in pass protection. The one thing that couldn't happen last year, injuries, did. Now it'll be up to a slew of redshirt freshmen and untested sophomores to provide the depth, but the overall talent level is better. As long as the tackles turn out to be fine, the line won't be a glaring weakness.
Rating:
5.5

  

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2007 Colorado State Preview
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2007 Colorado State Preview - Defense
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2007 Colorado State Preview - Depth Chart
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