2008 CFN Colorado State Preview
Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson
Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson
Posted Apr 21, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Colorado State Rams

Colorado State Rams

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 Colorado State Preview | 2008 Colorado State Offense
- 2008 Colorado State Defense | 2008 Colorado State Depth Chart
2007 CFN Colorado State Preview
| 2006 CFN Colorado State Preview 

Sonny Lubick made Colorado State into a non-BCS powerhouse, but things fell flat over the last four years. The team tried hard, there was the want-to to win, but things didn't click on either side of the ball. Basically, it was time for a change. 

In comes Steve Fairchild to blow up everything and basically start from scratch. At least that was the theory when he came in.

Head coach: Steve Fairchild
1st year at CSU
Returning Lettermen
Off: 18, Def. 15, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best Ram Players
RB Kyle Bell, Sr.
2. RB Gartrell Johnson, Sr.
3. LB Jeff Horinek, Sr.
4. FS Klint Kubiak, Sr.
5. TE Kory Sperry, Sr.
6. SS Mike Pagnotta, Sr.
7. DE Tommie Hill, Sr.
8. WR/KR Dion Morton, Jr.
9. OT Cole Pemberton, Jr.
10. LB Jake Portorff, Jr. 

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

Aug. 31 Colorado (Denver)
Sept. 6 Sacramento State
Sept. 13
Sept. 20 Houston
Sept. 27 at California
Oct. 4 UNLV
Oct. 11 TCU
Oct. 18 at Utah
Oct. 25 at San Diego State
Nov. 1 BYU
Nov. 8 at Air Force
Nov. 15 New Mexico
Nov. 22 at Wyoming

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

All new coaching staffs want to change things around and perk up a floundering team and a struggling program, but in the end, Fairchild is going to take what Lubick wanted to do over the last few seasons and try to make it work. 

There isn't going to be anything finesse or quirky about what the Rams will want to do; they're going to try to hit teams in the mouth, line back up, and hit them again. They're going to try to power run the ball, stop the run, and be far more physical than they've been in years. While that's easy to do in theory, it's going to take plenty of work to actually make it happen. Luckily for Fairchild, he has some serious power players in place.

231-pound senior RB Kyle Bell appears to be finally back to his old self after the knee injury that set him back two years ago. Couple Bell with 227-pound Gartrell Johnson, and a huge line to run behind, and the offense is going to be about banging it on the ground.

Fairchild isn't going to let his run defense finish 107th in the nation again, and he's going to try to make sure there's better line play, more toughness, and more production. Now the question will be how.

Sometimes some new blood is needed to change things up, and Fairchild has brought in a new attitude and some new ideas, mixed them in with the old, and the results should be strong. Colorado State should be back on the right track.

What to watch for on offense: The ground game. Everyone talked about running the ball over the last few seasons, but this group should actually do it. With Bell back to being Bell and Johnson, last year's leading rusher, certain to be even more effective now that he doesn't have to do everything, the Rams should be powerful on the ground.

What to watch for on defense: Far more of an attitude from the run defense. Now the pieces are back in place with safeties Mike Pagnotta, who was limited for a stretch with an ankle problem, and Klint Kubiak, back after a serious ulcer cost him almost all of last year, healthy and patrolling the secondary again. While the hope is for the front seven to handle their duties against the run, the secondary will now do more to make big plays.

The team will be far better if … the lines show up. The Rams were 105th in the nation in sacks allowed and 103rd in tackles for loss. Basically, the production from both lines have to improve by leaps and bounds, and it should. The offensive line will get to use its strength, it's girth, to be able to pound away for the running game. The defensive line has good size and needs to be stronger against the run, but it's biggest issue will be making big plays. .

The Schedule:
Fairchild's first season shouldn't be all that bad as long as his Rams can be decent on the road. TCU and BYU have to come to Fort Collins to off-set road trips to Utah and Air Force. Three road games in a four week span, with the home game against the Cougars, The non-conference schedule is interesting with the always-close opener against Colorado followed up by a tune-up against Sacramento State and an off week before dealing with Houston and a trip to Cal. Closing out at Wyoming will be tougher than it appears.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RBs Kyle Bell and Gartrell Johnson. It'll be thunder and thunder as the two powerbacks carry the offense. Bell was able to come back last year after a serious knee injury, but he didn't have the same quickness and he labored to get through the line. Now he has his mojo back and should be back to his 2005 form. Meanwhile, Johnson, who ran for 957 yards and was the offense at the end of the season, will be able to carry it 25 times whenever necessary.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Jeff Horinek. A very smart rock for a bad defense, now Horinek has more experience and more talent around him to help the cause. For the most part, he has had to help out everyone else and get in on every play. Now he should be able to work more on making big plays up on the line and stuff runs earlier.

Key player to a successful season: Offensive tackles Cole Pemberton and Mark Starr. The CSU tackles have gotten the quarterbacks killed over the last few seasons and haven't done enough for the running game. With QB Billy Farris trying to get is feet wet, he could use all the time he can get, while any production for the ground game will be a must. Pemberton and Starr have talent, now they have to show it off.

The season will be a success if ... the Rams go to a bowl game again. With only one bowl appearance in the last four years, and no post-season wins since 2001, getting an extra game at the end of the season would be a solid turnaround after so many problems. There are too many issues to win the conference title, but that doesn't mean there can't be some curve balls thrown throughout the year.

Key game: Oct. 11 vs. TCU. If the turnaround is going to happen, CSU has to be far better in Mountain West play and it has to start winning its home games against the better league teams. TCU is good enough to win the conference title, but the Rams, after starting out the league slate against UNLV, can make a huge statement with a big home win before going to Utah.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Fumbles: Opponents 28 (lost 15) – Colorado State 9 (lost 7)
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 11 of 16 (69%) – Colorado State 8 of 21 (38%)
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 4.9 yards – Colorado State 3.8


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