Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2007 Colorado State Rams Season
Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Colorado State Rams Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Colorado State Rams

Recap: Four straight forgettable seasons was the tipping point for the Ram administration, which severed ties with long-time head coach Sonny Lubick at the end of the regular season.  Colorado State entered the 2007 season on a seven-game losing streak that reached 13 before it was snapped in the third week of October.  The Rams showed some fight late in the season, winning three of their final six games, yet it wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start or a defense that ranked next-to-last in the Mountain West in just about every statistical category.           

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Gartrell Johnson

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Jeff Horinek

Biggest Surprise: After more than a calendar year without a win, any victory was going to qualify as a surprise.  For the Rams, that day came on Oct. 20, a blustery day that saw Johnson rush for 162 yards and two scores, and the team blow past UNLV, 48-23.     

Biggest Disappointment: Colorado State lost its first five games by an average of only seven, but it was the opener against rival Colorado that set the tone for the season.  The Rams squandered an 11-point lead in the second half, bowing to the Buffs in overtime on a Kevin Eberhart field goal. 

Looking Ahead: The task of replacing the legendary Lubick and rebuilding the Rams belongs to Steve Fairchild, who most recently was the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator and served alongside Lubick from 1993-2000.  Led by Johnson, Kyle Bell, and four starting linemen, he’ll inherit the pieces of a sold running game.

- 2007 CSU Preview
2006 CSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 Colorado L 31-28 OT
Sept. 8 California L 38-24
Sept. 22
at Houston L 35-24
Sept. 29 at TCU L 24-12
Oct. 6
San Diego St L 24-20
Oct. 13 Air Force L 45-21
Oct. 20 at UNLV W 48-23
Oct. 27 Utah L 27-3
Nov. 3 at BYU L 28-16
Nov. 10 at N Mexico L 26-23
Nov. 17
Ga Southern W 42-34
Nov. 23 Wyoming W 36-28

Nov. 23
Colorado State 36 ... Wyoming 28
Michael Myers stepped in for a banged up Gartrell Johnson and tore off an 18-yard touchdown run to give Colorado State the lead, and Jason Smith put it away with a 39-yard field goal. The Rams got 31-yard touchdown catch from Johnson along with a three-yard scoring dash, but Devin Moore took the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and also scored on a one-yard run. Wynel Seldon added two short scoring runs, but the offense couldn't get going over the final 12 minutes with two drives without a first down and a fumble on the third. 
Player of the game: Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson ran 25 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 31-yard touchdown pass
Stat Leaders: Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 20-33, 204 yds
Rushing: Devin Moore, 14-76, 1 TD. Receiving: Wynel Seldon, 6-39
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 16-22, 245 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Gartrell Johnson, 25-103, 1 TD. Receiving: Johnny Walker, 5-56

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
An awful season finishes up with a high note by rallying to beat Wyoming with the type of performance the team was hoping to get throughout the year. Caleb Hanie had an efficient passing day, the running game rumbled with Gartrell Johnson, with Michael Myers doing a great job in relief, and the defensive coming through with three late stops. If nothing else, the Rams were competitive over the final month even when they had nothing to play for.

Nov. 17
Colorado State 42 ... Georgia Southern 34
Gartrell Johnson opened up the scoring three times in the first half, and Luke Roberts caught a 21-yard touchdown pass, as the Rams got up 28-3 and the rout appeared to be on. Georgia Southern made it very interesting thanks to QB Jayson Foster, who ran for scores from 33, 12 and 19 yards out, while Lamar Lewis sparked a run of 17 unanswered points with a 19-yard dash. After Jesse Hartley's second 35-yad field goal of the game, the Rams recovered the onsides kick and ran out the clock.
Player of the game: Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson ran 19 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 14 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Georgia Southern - Passing: Jayson Foster, 11-17, 107 yds
Rushing: Jayson Foster, 27-195, 3 TD. Receiving: Raja Andrews, 4-10
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 13-16, 244 yds, 3 TD
Gartrell Johnson, 19-136, 2 TD. Receiving: Damon Morton, 4-100, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Colorado State sure likes to make things interesting as Georgia Southern tore off 349 rushing yards to almost pull off the upset. Caleb Hanie had his second straight strong performance throwing the ball, but it helps when Gartrell Johnson and the running game can carry the attack for stretches. Now a brutally ugly year has the potential to end on a big high note with a win over Wyoming giving the Rams a two-game winning streak going into the off-season.

Nov. 10
New Mexico 26 ... Colorado State 23
For the second year in a row, New Mexico beat Colorado State on a last second kick, getting a 43-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. Sullivan also nailed shots from 46, 39 and 34 yards out, while Donovan Porterie threw two first half touchdown passes. The Rams kept pace helped by a 172-yard rushing day from Gartrell Johnson and Johnny Walker touchdown catches from 64 and 31 yards out.
Player of the game: New Mexico QB Donovan Porterie completed 21 of 29 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and PK John Sullivan connected on field goals from 34, 39, 46 and 43 yards out.
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 13-19, 221 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Gartrell Johnson, 31-172. Receiving: Johnny Walker, 7-177, 2 TD
New Mexico - Passing: Donovan Porterie, 21-29, 211 yds, 2 TD
Rodney Ferguson, 20-110. Receiving: Marcus Smith, 9-83, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense finally got rolling with efficiency, balance and explosion, and it didn't matter. New Mexico was able to match the Rams score for score, but that shouldn't discount the big performance from Gartrell Johnson, who ran well enough to keep control of the game at times. Unfortunately, late drives resulted in field goals instead of touchdowns, and that turned out to be the difference. With Georgia Southern up next, CSU will finally get its second win before dealing with Wyoming.

Nov. 3
BYU 35 ... Colorado State 16
BYU got up right away with a 21-3 halftime lead helped by two Max Hall touchdown passes and a thee-yard Manase Tonga scoring run. A three-yard Harvey Unga scoring run made it 28-3 Cougars and they cruised from there. Colorado State got a three-yard Michael Myers touchdown run off the team's best drive of the day, but wasn't able to get back into the end zone until Jesse Nading took an interception 31 yards for a score late in the fourth.
Player of the game: BYU QB Max Hall completed 22 of 30 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 18-34, 161 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Gartrell Johnson, 19-72. Receiving: Johnny Walker, 4-26
BYU - Passing: Max Hall, 22-30, 355 yds, 3 TD
Harvey Unga, 11-51, 1 TD. Receiving: Austin Collie, 8-111, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Where's the offensive pop? The receiving corps is too good, and there are too many weapons in the backfield, to be so anemic offensively. Over the past few games, Caleb Hanie hasn't been able to push the ball deep at all, while the running game hasn't been able to control the clock at all. As if dealing with Utah and BYU weren't enough, now comes a tough game against a desperate New Mexico team needing a win at home. This might be a lost season, but closing out strong is a must to give the program something positive for the first time in years.

Oct. 27
Utah 27 ... Colorado State 3
Utah had few problems with Colorado State, running for 322 yards and holding the Ram attack to just 275 yards.  Ray Stowers caught a 16-yard touchdown pass and ran for a one-yard score, and Brian Hernandez caught a four-yard scoring pass. Louie Sakoda added two second quarter field goals for a 20-3 halftime lead, and the Utes coasted from there. CSU only managed a 24-yard Jason Smith field goal.
Player of the game: Utah RBs Darrell Mack and Ray Stowers combined for 274 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Stowers also caught a 16-yard touchdown pass
Stat Leaders: Utah - Passing: Brian Johnson, 14-21, 130 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Darrell Mack, 20-151. Receiving: Marquis Wilson, 5-66
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 12-18, 94 yds, 1 INT
Gartrell Johnson, 17-95. Receiving: Damon Morton, 3-50

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Ram offense was fresh off a blowout of UNLV and a great balanced performance, and then with all the momentum coming into a big home game, it comes up with a total dud in the loss to Utah. The lines got thoroughly whipped, while Caleb Hanie didn't do nearly enough to hit on any big plays down the field. Now with all dreams of a bowl gone, it's about getting little wins here and there over the last month. Beating BYU next week would be a big win.

Oct. 20
Colorado State 48 ... UNLV 23
In a strange game with a big wind storm wreaking havoc, Colorado State broke its 13-game losing streak with an early 24-3 lead and a big day from Gartrell Johnson, who ran for 162 yards and touchdowns from 34 and four yards out. The defense got into the act with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown from Darryl Williams and a 99-yard pick six from Zac Bryson. UNLV cranked out 559 yards of total offense, but turned it over five times. Frank Summers ran for second half scores from 56 and six yards out, and Ryan Wolfe caught a seven-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.
Player of the game: Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson ran 25 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pass for 15 yards
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 13-19, 218 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Gartrell Johnson, 25-162, 2 TD. Receiving: Damon Morton, 3-124, 1 TD
UNLV - Passing: Omar Clayton, 23-36, 304 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Omar Clayton, 19-135. Receiving: Ryan Wolfe, 11-135, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Finally, CSU busted its ugly losing streak, and it took a strange game to do it. Weather conditions, a green opposing quarterback, and two defensive touchdowns made it happen, and now the team has to build on it. Beating UNLV isn't any big deal, but getting by Utah right now would be. It might be this simple; when Caleb Hanie doesn't throw picks, CSU is fine. Winning the turnover battle is a must for this team.

Oct. 13
Air Force 45 ... Colorado State 21
Air Force rolled for 385 rushing yards thanks to a 256-yard day from Chad Hall. the Falcons grabbed a 28-7 lead going into halftime on Hall runs from two, six and two yards out, and a 26-yard Drew Fowler interception return for a score. The Rams got a four-yard Gartrell Johnson touchdown run in the first half, and a seven-yard Damon Morton scoring grab in the third quarter, but they weren't nearly enough. Hall capped things off with a 13-yard run late in the fourth to put it away.
Player of the game: Air Force RB Chad Hall ran 31 times for 256 yards and four touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Air Force
- Passing: Shaun Carney, 3-5, 52 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Chad Hall, 31-256, 4 TD. Receiving: Mark Root, 1-35, 1 TD
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 11-18, 111 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Gartrell Johnson, 25-143, 1 TD. Receiving: Damon Morton, 8-99, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Colorado State is supposed to do the pounding, but over the last few weeks, the defense has been run on at will, while the ground game has been turned over to Gartrell Johnson. The Rams aren't going to win much when it gives up 265 rushing yards and Caleb Hanie throws four picks. He simply can't make big mistakes if CSU is ever going to break out of its slump. Beating UNLV next week is a must to have any hope of a resurgent second half of the year.

Oct. 6
San Diego State 24 ... Colorado State 20
Kevin O'Connell ran for three touchdowns, including a 16-yarder early in the fourth, and a one-yarder with 43 seconds to play to beat Colorado State. The Rams got a one-yard touchdown run from QB Caleb Hanie in the third quarter, and a 40-yard Damon Morton scoring catch to take the lead with 2:29 to play, but O'Connell led the way on a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the way to the win. The Rams sacked O'Connell seven times.
Player of the game: San Diego State QB Kevin O’Connell threw for 184 yards on 13-of-26 passing, rushing 16 times for 41 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: San Diego State - Passing: Kevin O’Connell, 13-26, 184 yds
Rushing: Atiyah Henderson, 10-46. Receiving: Brett Swain, 4-111
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 14-26, 188 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Kyle Bell, 19-76. Receiving: Dion Morton, 4-41
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Rams can't come up with a key stop. The front got into the backfield against San Diego State, and the offense limited its mistakes, but to lose at home to a team this uneven shows just how far the team has fallen. Kyle Bell isn't able to get any room to move and bust out big runs, while it seems like Caleb Hanie is playing not to screw up. There are too many good weapons for the offense to be this poor.

Sept. 29
TCU 24 ... Colorado State 12
It wasn't pretty, but TCU was able to outrush Colorado State 201 yards to 55, getting two four-yard Marcus Jackson touchdown runs and a four-yard Shae Reagan scoring grab. Colorado State got back in it with a 27-yard Jason Smith field goal and a 54-yard Damon Morton touchdown catch, but two of the three final drives were stopped by interceptions, and the other stalled.
Player of the game: TCU RB Aaron Brown ran 22 times for 124 yards
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 21-38, 216 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing: John Mosure, 10-34. Receiving: Luke Roberts, 4-42
TCU - Passing: Marcus Jackson, 11-26, 137 yds, 1 TDs
Aaron Brown, 22-124. Receiving: Ervin Dickerson, 4-66
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Where's the offensive identity? With Kyle Bell limited to just seven carries for nine yards against TCU, there wasn't anything coming from the ground game. That meant it was up to Caleb Hanie to take over, and while he has the potential to bomb away for big yards, that wasn't going to happen against the TCU D. He was sacked four times and threw three interceptions. He won't have to be amazing for the Rams to beat San Diego State next week, but he'll need help from the running backs. The schedule quickly gets tougher, so any win right now is a must.

Sept. 22
Houston 35 ... Colorado State 24
In a tale of two halves, Colorado State got up 17-3 on two Caleb Hanie touchdown passes and a 40-yard Jason Smith field goal. And then Case Keenum took over for Houston, as he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to L.J. Castille to open the second half, and a 27-yarder to Perry McDaniel late in the third quarter. A second Smith field goal broke a 24-24 tie, but Keenum put it away with two short touchdown runs in the final 6:18. CSU was held to just 115 rushing yards.
Player of the game: Houston QB Case Keenum threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-22 passing, and ran 12 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 16-26, 227 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Kyle Bell, 23-73. Receiving: Luke Roberts, 6-113, 1 TD
Houston - Passing: Case Keenum, 18-22, 197 yds, 2 TDs
Anthony Alridge, 15-62. Receiving: Donnie Avery, 7-76

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It should've been set up so perfectly for CSU against Houston. It got up early, could run Kyle Bell, and get out with the win, but Bell next got going, QB Caleb Hanie struggled in the second half, and now the record is 0-3 with a date at TCU ahead. That's three straight games the Rams have had a shot to win, and three straight times it couldn't close. All the parts aren't coming together, and at the moment, the biggest problem is an offensive line that's not being physical enough. Bell isn't getting any room to move.

Sept. 8
California 34 ... Colorado State 28
Helped by a 73-yard DeSean Jackson touchdown run off a reverse, Cal got out to a 34-14 lead, but had to hang on as Colorado State scored on a 66- yard Damon Morton punt return for a touchdown and a three-yard Kyle Bell scoring run in the final four minutes. Cal was able to run out the clock after the Bell score, but it had to sweat. Benn ran for two scores on the day, and Caleb Hanie added a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but Cal tore off a 20-point run, helped by a 64-yard touchdown dash from Jahvid Best to get the lead for good.
Player of the game: Cal WR DeSean Jackson had five catches for 42 yards, two carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, and a pair of punt returns for 24 yards.
Stat Leaders: Cal - Passing: Nate Longshore 19-29, 146 yds
Rushing: DeSean Jackson, 2-78, 1 TD. Receiving: LaVelle Hawkins, 5-43
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 21-29, 301 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kyle Bell, 26-102, 2 TDs. Receiving: Damon Morton, 5-116, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Give the Rams credit for not giving up against Cal. The comeback might have come up short, but the team battled hard late and made it much closer than it should've been. Kyle Bell ran for big yards for the second straight week, but he had to fight to earn them; nothing seemed to come easy. Caleb Hanie bombed away, but he threw two picks and didn't do enough on third downs. With Houston coming up, the Rams are going to have to be even more explosive.

Sept. 1
Colorado 31 ... Colorado State 28 OT
Colorado's Terrence Wheatley intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass in the end zone on Colorado State's offensive possession in overtime, and Kevin Eberhart nailed his 35-yard chance to give the Buffs the win. The two teams traded scores all game long, with Cody Hawkins throwing two first quarter touchdown passes for Colorado and Caleb Hanie responding with three scoring passes to Kory Sperry. Down 28-17, Colorado came back with a three-yard Demetrius Sumler touchdown run late in the third quarter and got a 22-yard Eberhart field goal with 13 seconds to play to force overtime.
Player of the game ... Colorado PK Kevin Eberhart connected on 3-of-4 field goals, including a 22-yarder that sent the game into overtime and the game-winner from 35 yards.
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 20-27, 229 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Kyle Bell, 40-135, 1 TD  Receiving: Kory Sperry, 8-103, 3 TDs
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 18-31, 201 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Demetrius Sumler, 16-85, 1 TD  Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 8-106, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... CSU can't lose games when it converts 11 of 19 on third downs and holds on to the ball for 37:01. Caleb Hanie might have had an efficient, solid game against Colorado, but he didn't make the plays he needed to in the second half and threw the key interception in overtime that effectively cost the team the game. Against Cal next week, he has to start pushing the ball deeper and will have to take more chances; that's not his strong suit. Having Kyle Bell back is a huge help, and the Rams fed him 40 carries. While he showed his old power, he didn't have his old burst. Call it shaking the rust off.

Sept. 1 - Colorado
Offense: Call this a stepping-stone season for the offense before it explodes in 2008. The overall production can't help but be better after averaging a Big 12-worst 291 yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if all the problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen go away, and if the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's better than last season showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick Nelson can shine right away at quarterback, the Buffs should start to have the offense that Buff fans expected when Dan Hawkins was hired.
Defense: The defense was better than it every got credit for considering the offense provided no help whatsoever. The starting 11, in whatever configuration that turns out to be, should be excellent as long as a pass rush is found from the ends. The linebacking corps will be the strength with tackling-machine Jordon Dizon leading the way. George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas form an excellent tackle tandem to work around, while Terrence Wheatley is an All-Big 12 corner to handle everyone's number one. Now there needs to be more from the secondary, and the run defense has to be as strong as it was last year despite losing key linemen Abraham Wright and Walter Boye-Doe.

Sept. 8 - California
Offense: With Jeff Tedford at the controls, this is basically a pro-style offense that mixes the run and the pass evenly, and puts up points as quickly as any program in the country.  The head coach will be calling plays again after a one-year hiatus, meaning trick plays will be more frequent than a year ago.  The job of distributing the ball to an array of speedy skill position players belongs to quarterback Nate Longshore, a strong-armed junior that threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and a few too many picks.  Although he has plenty of receivers to choose from, none is more lethal than DeSean Jackson, a field-stretcher and legit Heisman candidate.  Super sub Justin Forsett takes over for Marshawn Lynch at running back, where he’ll be running behind an outstanding veteran line.  Center Alex Mack is on the All-American doorstep after earning first team All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore.
Defense: There’s plenty of work to be done for a Cal defense that begins a new era without its signature all-conference player at each of the three defensive units.  Outstanding recruiting by Jeff Tedford and his staff in recent years ensures that the cupboard is far from empty, but there’ll be a learning curve early on in 2007.  Of greatest concern is a pass defense that gets modest support up front and will be relying on a slew of green cornerbacks.  Sophomore Syd’Quan Thompson and redshirt freshman Darian Hagan look the part, but need to deliver once Pac-10 plays begins.  Junior Zack Follett is the budding star of a linebacker unit that has the potential to be the next best thing to USC in the conference.

Sept. 22 – at Houston
Offense: The graduation of four-year starting quarterback Kevin Kolb signals a new era in Houston, but it doesn’t mean the Cougars will be inept on offense in 2007.  There’s too much explosiveness and veteran leadership for that to happen.  Last year’s backup, sophomore Blake Joseph, is expected to get the nod at quarterback.  He’s got a huge arm and about as much fear as he does experience.  Surrounding Joseph will be a half-dozen players that earned all-league honors last year, headed by senior running back Anthony Alridge, one of the nation’s fastest players.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Alan Weddell’s goal is to bring pressure from every angle and invent ways to get as much speed as possible on the field.  With that in mind, he’ll be installing some elements of a 4-2-5 package in 2007 to periodically get an athletic rover into the mix.  The personnel is deep and reliable, especially with a front seven that includes dynamic junior end Phillip Hunt and a couple of all-league linebackers in junior Cody Lubojasky and senior Trent Allen.  If senior safety Rocky Schwartz is all the way back from knee surgery and the corners hold up, the pieces are in place for this to be Conference USA’s stingiest defense.

Sept. 29 – at TCU
Offense: This won't be the offense of last year that finished second in the Mountain West in yards and scoring, but it won't be bad as long as there isn't a major injury problem among the starters. The line should be the strength with three returning starters and experience to count on at the other spots. Aaron Brown is about to shine now that he doesn't have to split carries. He'll be the do-it-all back who'll be the offense until the passing game, which struggled mightily in spring, comes around. The receiving corps has potential, but it needs Donald Massey to become a number one target, and it needs the quarterback situation to be settled with Marcus Jackson, who'll likely win the job, battling with Andy Dalton.
The Horned Frogs finished second in the nation in total defense, third in scoring defense, and led the Mountain West in several top categories. It'll be a total shock if they weren't even better. The only possible problems will come if injuries strike. Nine starters return, led by all-star ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, who make life easy for everyone else on the defense with the pressure they provide. The 4-2-5 has four good linebackers, an amazing group of safeties, rising stars at corner, and a good, active line. The only potential issue is a lack of raw bulk at tackle, but that's looking for a problem.

Oct. 6 - San Diego State
Offense: Could everyone please stay healthy so we can see what the offense can do? Eight starters return, along with many others with starting experience, but it'll be the ones who weren't a part of the mix throughout all of last year, QB Kevin O'Connell and RB Lynell Hamilton, who'll need to make the offense sing after it finished averaging a woeful 14.17 points per game. Even if they don't backup quarterback Kevin Craft and a host of running backs are good enough to bring more production. The receivers are big and fast, the combination of running backs are big and fast, and O'Connell is big and fast. The line should be fine with plenty of returning experience, so now there has to be real, live production.
Defense: Uh oh. Four starters return from a defense that struggled with its consistency throughout the year and did nothing to get into the backfield. That was with Antwan Applewhite, who left a year early. The outside linebackers, Russell Allen and Brett Martin, are the strength of the defense, Ray Bass is a solid, veteran safety, while Nick Osborn is a good, versatile lineman who'll start out at tackle after playing last year at end. That's about it for the sure-things. The corner situation is a mess, there's no pass rusher to count on, and the overall depth will be an issue.

Oct. 13 - Air Force
Offense: For what seems like the 19th year in a row, Air Force is going to make an attempt to be more diversified and add some passing to the mix. This time, under new offensive coordinator Tim Horton, it might actually happen. Slowly. Running the ball will still be the team's bread-and-butter, but there will be some shotgun, some spread, and a mish-mosh of other offenses to try to get thing moving. Shaun Carney is a good, veteran quarterback to handle all the changes, but he doesn't have much to work with. The receiving corps needs work before it can become a threat, the backfield will be fine in the triple-option, but could struggle in a traditional set, and the offensive line needs to undergo major changes.
Air Force hasn't played defense in about three years and it'll take a major overhaul and a fantastic coaching job by new coordinator Tim DeRuyter to change things up. There's no size, not enough speed, and little in the way of experienced reserves. There has to be some semblance of a pass rush, and the hope will be for the speedy outside linebackers in the 3-4 to generate it. Far more has to be done against the pass. Now for the positives. Drew Fowler is one of the Mountain West's best linebackers and safety Bobby Giannini is a tackling machine.

Oct. 20 – at UNLV
Offense: The Rebel Shotgun Spread has basically misfired over the first two seasons, but the potential is there for a huge turnaround. QB Rocky Hinds, a disappointment in his first season after coming over from USC, played with a torn ACL almost all season, and now he'll be healthy. He'll have a loaded receiving corps to work with led by Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe, but all eyes will be on Aaron Straiten on the outside. The star JUCO transfer of last year has million-dollar talent, but now he needs to use it. The emergence of Frank Summers as a powerback should help out the running game, which already has speed -rusher David Peeples, but the offensive line has to do more to pave the way.
Defense: The defense struggled way too much to get a stop early in games, and it forced the offense to press way too often. Now there should be a bit of an improvement with several good returning starters and a fearsome pass rush. The ends should be terrific, and the linebackers can all move, but the emphasis going into the year will be to stop the run. Are the defenders in place to do it? That remains to be seen, but the biggest concern will be with a secondary that didn't make nearly enough plays last year, and now it doesn't have Eric Wright.

Oct. 27 - Utah
Offense: Look out. Utah not only gets just about everyone back with its top six wide receivers, leading rusher Darryl Poston, and four starting offensive linemen, but it also welcomes back its superstar, quarterback Brian Johnson, after taking last year off to recover from a torn ACL. All the problems with inconsistency throughout last season should be gone thanks to all the experience. Expect more explosion, a slew of Mountain West all-stars, and for Johnson to become a national college football name. There's more than enough depth at the skill positions to withstand injuries, but there's no development among the backups on the line.  
Defense: There's a ton of athleticism and loads of potential, but there are also several major concerns on the line and secondary. The linebacking corps will be fine with four starting-caliber players returning led by Joe Jianonni in the middle. Martail Burnett is an all-star waiting to blow up at end, free safety Steve Tate is good for 100 tackles, and Brice McCain has the kind of speed that NFL scouts tend to drool over. Everything else is up in the air with former receiver Sean Smith trying to handle the second corner spot, no experience to count on at strong safety, and unproven new starters at tackle and the second defensive end. In the end, the D will be fine in Mountain West play because of all the talent, but it might not be good enough to win the league title if the offense struggles for a game or two.

Nov. 3 – at BYU
Offense: While the offense won't crank out the big numbers last year's attack did (finishing fourth in the nation in total offense and fifth in scoring), it'll be fantastic starting with a great line that has more talent and depth (though unproven) than the program has seen in a long time. The receivers have to step up with the top targets of last year gone, and new starting quarterback Max Hall has to be efficient from day one. The 1-2 rushing punch of Manase Tonga and Fui Vakapuna will carry things when it needs to with an interesting blend of speed and power.
Defense This won't be the best defense in the Mountain West, but it'll be good enough to win with. The 3-3-5 was replaced by the 3-4 last year with tremendous results. Now the production should be there again with a big front three, led by end Jan Jorgensen, and a good linebacking corps that needs Kelly Poppinga to be the main man in the middle in place of Cameron Jensen. The safeties, Dustin Gabriel and Quinn Gooch, are as good as any in the conference, but the corners are nothing special.

Nov. 10 – at New Mexico
Offense: The offense is scrapping the Bob Toledo attack and going back to a more basic style that'll pound the ball more with a big line, but won't forget about balancing things out through the air. With one of the Mountain West's best receiving tandems in Travis Brown and Marcus Smith, and a rising superstar in quarterback Donovan Porterie, the passing game should shine, while Rodney Ferguson will be a 1,000-yard back. If injuries are a problem, there will be big troubles with no developed depth among the skills positions and even less to count on up front.
Defense: The 3-3-5 scheme will stay in place, but the Lobo position will be fifth defensive back more than a linebacker. As always, there are plenty of great athletes who can run and fly to the ball. Now there has to be more production against the pass and more big plays in the backfield. The linebacking corps with Cody Kase moving from the outside in, should be stellar, while the cornerback tandem of DeAndre Wright and Glover Quin should be among the best in the league. There's a ton of talent to get excited about, but, unlike last year, will it all come together to form one of the league's better defenses? It's possible.

Nov. 17 – Georgia Southern

Nov. 23 - Wyoming
Offense: The offense wasn't consistent and did nothing against the good teams (averaging 8.5 points against Boise State, New Mexico, TCU and BYU), but there's plenty of hope for a big turnaround with a good pair of backs in powerful Wynel Seldon and speedy Devin Moore, a strong receiving corps with Michael Ford, Hoost Marsh, and emerging deep threat Greg Bolling, and a great quarterback situation with three possible starters led by rising star Karsten Sween. The one issue could be the offensive line that returns just two starters and has question marks at guard.
Defense: The Cowboys had a terrific, unnoticed defensive season finishing ninth in the nation in total defense. However, it struggled at the end of year, for the second straight season, and now it has some holes to fill. The linebacking corps, with four great starters and a slew of good reserves for the 3-4, will be among the best in the league, and while there aren't any returning starters up front, they're big. Corners Julius Stinson and Michael Medina should be excellent, but the star safeties of last year have to be replaced.


Related Stories
Live Blog - Signing Day Updates
 -by  Feb 6, 2008
Post-Bowl Risers: Offense
 -by  Jan 6, 2008
Conley is an underrated center prospect
 -by  Dec 12, 2007

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Colorado State
[View My HotList]