2008 Colorado State Preview |
2008 Colorado State Offense
2008 Colorado State
2008 Colorado State
2007 CFN Colorado State Preview
2006 CFN Colorado
What you need to know:
was a disappointment yet again, but at least this year it knows
what it's going to be. Forget about anything cute; with a big,
beefy, veteran line, and the powerful 1-2 rushing punch of
Gartrell Johnson and Kyle Bell, the Rams are going to try to
flatten defenses. It has to with the passing game a potential
mess. The line hasn't protected the passer in years, and it has
to be better with a new quarterback to work with, likely career
backup Billy Farris, and a dark green receiving corps to break
in. Any consistency out of a passing game that was efficient
last year will be a plus when the offense isn't pounding away.
Passing: Billy Farris
9-20, 91 yds
Rushing: Gartell Johnson
181 carries, 957 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Dion Morton
20 catches, 183 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Gartrell Johnson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Mark Starr
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Kory Sperry
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) Sperry, 3)
RB Kyle Bell
Strength of the offense: Power running, experienced line
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, experienced
The offense needs to first be secure at quarterback where
long-time starter Caleb Hanie is gone. It'll be up to senior
Billy Farris, who patiently waited for his turn at bat and
only got a little bit of garbage time work over the years. At
6-3 and 220 pound he has good size to go along with a live arm,
but he needs all the reps he can get after completing nine of 20
passes last season for 91 yards and 11 of 19 two yards ago. He's
mobile for his size and he's ready to hit the ground running and
be the leader of the attack, but he'll have to win relatively
early on to keep the job.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Grant Stucker
has had a few years of practice time to work and get ready,
and now he'll have a fight on his hands just to keep the No. 2
job. A big recruit for the program a few years ago, he hasn't
progressed and he hasn't seen any real playing time. At 6-2 and
201 pounds he has decent size and he's one of the best athletes
among the quarterback prospects.
6-4, 227-pound sophomore Nick Neuenfeldt was an Arizona
high school all-star who has the size. the skills, and the
upside to be in the mix for the starting job, but he'll have an
uphill battle to get playing time. Extremely strong and with
tremendous athleticism, he could eventually turn into a
dangerous tight end if the quarterback job doesn't work out.
A pair of left-handed prospects will get every opportunity to
win the starting job. Redshirt freshman T.J. Borcky is a
phenomenal athlete who could add another dimension to the
offense. He's a tall, thin player who can be a dangerous runner.
New recruit Klay Kubiak is the son of Houston Texan head
coach, Gary. While he's not at all that big at 6-0 and 200
pounds, he's a very smart, very efficient passer who'll get a
long look at playing time early on, but he'll probably end up
Watch Out For ... the quarterback situation to be
unsettled for most of the year. Farris has looked great in
practices, but there are several good young prospects who'll see
time if the offense isn't performing up to snuff.
Strength: Prospects. There are four interesting options
behind Farris to develop. While there might not be a true
superstar, there are some very successful high school winners
who can play.
Weakness: Proven production. Farris hasn't had to do anything in
live action, and no one else has any experience whatsoever. It's
not that bad a problem considering the team is looking to build
and grow, but to win now, Farris will have to shine right away.
Outlook: Farris will be a good producer who
could be efficient, but he'll have to be fantastic with a new
receiving corps to deal with. There are several good prospects
who could see time early on to get ready for next year, or take
over the starting job entirely. Fairchild has said it's an
open competition for the job. It's there for the taking if
someone can step up and knock off Farris.
While everyone was waiting for Kyle Bell to be Kyle Bell again,
senior Gartrell Johnson carried the Ram running game with
a monstrous second half of the season. After only getting 20
carries in the first five games, he tore off five 100-yard days
in the final seven, with 95 against Utah and 72 against BYU,
highlighted by a 31-carry, 172-yard performance in the loss to
New Mexico. He finished the year with 957 rushing yards and six
scores. At 6-0 and 227 pounds he's a tough back who's great at
pounding the ball inside, and he has enough of a burst to
average 5.3 yards per carry. While he's not a great receiver, he
can be used to catch defenses off guard catching 12 passes for
103 yards and two scores.
To get the offense to power the ball like the coaching staff
would like, 6-0, 243-pound sophomore Zac Pauga will play
an even bigger role after growing into the job by the end of
last year. He didn't get any carries, but he caught 11 passes
for 102 yards and turned into a sledgehammer of a blocker. While
he's hardly a speedster, he could lineup as a slot receiver, or
an extra tight end, from time to time depending on the
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 231-pound senior
Kyle Bell cranked out 1,288 yards and ten touchdowns in 2005
showing power and speed to make him one of the Mountain West's
premier players. And then he missed all of 2006 after suffering
a preseason knee injury. While he was used early on last year
gaining 135 yards and a touchdown against Colorado and 102 yards
and two scores against California, it took 66 carries to do it.
He didn't have nearly the same burst through the hole and wasn't
nearly the same player. While he finished the year with 691
yards and four scores, he gave way to Johnson and
turned into a second option. When he's right, he's a powerful
back who can carry the offense for stretches. Now he'll be part
of the rotation again until he can show his old form, if he can
show his old form.
6-1, 207-pound senior Michael Myers finished third on the
team with 148 yards and three touchdowns seeing spot duty over
the second half of the season. He has the speed to go along with
a little bit of power, but he'll have a hard time cracking the
regular rotation if Johnson and Bell are doing
Sophomore John Mosure ran for 40 yards in garbage time,
but he has the skills to potentially be a major playmaker. The
runner up for the 2005 Mr. Florida award has been a practice
star since coming to Fort Collins, but he hasn't seen enough
action to make an impact. While not necessarily a speed back,
the 5-10, 198 pounder can move.
Backing up Zac Pauga at full back is 6-2, 229-pound sophomores
Mile Tamminga. More like a tight end playing fullback, he
could grow into a niche player in passing situations and could
end up playing in two tight end sets.
Watch Out For ... A power punch of
Johnson and Bell on a regular basis. With the passing game
likely to be a work in progress all season long, the coaching
staff will use the horses to pound and pound some more. Bell has
played well enough to be the starter ahead of Johnson at some
point, but the two will work in tandem.
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: Burst. Johnson had a few nice runs and had a gaudy
5.3-yard-per-carry average, but it's not like there are any true
speed backs who can take it to the house at any time. Myers has
wheels and Mosure can run, but they're not going to keel
defensive coordinators up at night.
Outlook: The running game got a lot better last
season with some real, live production after a a disastrous
2006, and now it should be even better with Bell's knee now
two years removed from surgery and Johnson looking like
a possible All-Mountain West back. The coaching staff wants a
physical running game, and it'll have it with these two. It
would be nice to find a speed burst and a third down-type back
somewhere, and the job will be open for the taking.
The receiving corps is starting from scratch and desperately
needs junior Rashaun Greer to play up to his potential.
One of the fastest players in the Mountain West, he's a star
hurdler on the CSU track team, he has the elite-level wheels,
and the 6-1, 198-pound size, to be a matchup nightmare. It
hasn't translated to the field yet with six appearances last
year and no catches. If he doesn't break out and become a deep
target, the Rams will have to scramble.
5-10, 162-pound Dion Morton, the brother of Damon Morton,
last year's leading receiver, needs to blossom after finishing
fourth on the team with 20 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown
before getting knocked out for the year with an ankle injury.
The junior is a quick target with great open field ability, even
if he didn't show it off last season. Most dangerous as a
kickoff returner, he needs to bring those skills to the
6-6, 254-pound Kory Sperry is a special tight end when
healthy, but that's a question mark after missing most of last
season with a torn ACL. He's expected to be ready by the start
of the season, but he still has to prove it. Used as a hybrid
tight end and fullback in the old Ram offense, he's a great
target in the red zone and is a fantastic route runner catching
ten passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns before getting
knocked out for the year. A nice blocker, but not an elite one,
his worth is as a big receiver.
Projected Top Reserves: Working behind
Greer on the outside is sophomore Brett Willis, a 6-3,
210-pound target who's big, physical, and good. While he's not a
blazer like Greer, he has enough speed to stretch the field and
become a factor in three-wide sets.
Behind Morton will be Matt Yemm, a quarterback
who'll move to receiver to add some more athleticism to the mix.
He's not that big a 5-11 and 178 pounds, but he's very, very
fast. A smart player who should quickly pick up his new
position, he's a sleeper to blossom into a major
JUCO transfer Ryan Gardner
will get every chance to see immediate action. He's still
learning the ropes as a football player after originally
starting out playing basketball, and he has 4.3 speed and a
jaw-dropping 42-inch vertical that makes him play even bigger
than his 6-1, 180-pound size. While he's raw, he has too much
upside to keep under wraps.
If there are any problems with Sperry's knee, senior
Chris Kawulok should be able to step in and produce. While
he's nowhere near the receiver Sperry is, catching just four
passes for 33 yards, he wasn't awful as a spot starter
throughout last year. A physical blocker, he'll be used in
Watch Out For ... someone to emerge from out of
nowhere to become a key starter. With almost no real experience
throughout the corps, the opening is there for a young player
like Blake Swain, Phillip Morelli or Brett Willis to become a
major factor. It's an open casting call for receivers.
Strength: Speed. There's plenty of speed and quickness
to stretch the field. There might not be any sure-thing to count
on, but everyone can run.
Weakness: Proven players. There's Morton, who caught 20
passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, and that's about it as far
as anyone who has done anything. That's not to say there aren't
players, but there are a ton of unknowns.
Outlook: Last season's receiving corps was
supposed to be among the best in CSU history, and it was decent,
not special. Now the receivers are starting from scratch with no real
experience, absolutely no depth, and a whole bunch of issues.
There's a lot of speed, good size, and plenty of upside. Now
someone has to prove it and produce.
Can Mark Starr handle the work? The 6-5, 285-pound sophomore
started his career at tight end and saw time late last year at tackle.
The new weak tackle is an athletic blocker who can get downfield and has
great potential. Now he has to prove he can become a steady pass
With Mark Starr moving to the outside permanently, junior Adrian
Martinez can play his more natural guard position. The 6-4,
302-pounder bounced back from a dislocated kneecap to be a steady run
blocker at right tackle, but he couldn't handle any skilled pas rusher.
He belongs on the inside and he should shine at the strong guard spot.
Back at strong tackle is junior Cole Pemberton after starting for
most of last year. Thrown to the wolves, he did a decent job considering
his inexperience and showed great potential before getting knocked out
late in the season with an ankle injury. At 6-7 and 327 pounds, he has
tremendous size and is great at locking on to defenders, but he has to
be far better in passing situations.
6-4, 298-pound junior Shelley Smith is still a work in progress,
but he's expected to grow into a good one on the weak side. A physical
blocker who's great for the ground game, he'll be one of the key
blockers on big short yardage plays.
Junior Tim Walter is back at center after getting nine starts
despite having ankle problems. With good size at 6-6 and 289 pounds and
the experience from last year, he's expected to grow into a leader of
the line and one of the team's steadiest starters.
Projected Top Reserves: Pushing for time at strong
guard is junior Scott Benedict, who could step in and start if
Adrian Martinez moves back to tackle. The starter last year, he suffered
a foot injury and was knocked out for the year. While the 6-4,
298-pounder isn't the steadiest pass protector, he's a good run blocker.
6-5, 306-pound sophomore Brian Lepak is a bigger option at center
than Tim Walter, and he's also one of the team's most versatile linemen.
Able to play tackle or center, he saw time in every game, mostly on
special teams, and has the talent to eventually become a starter
Able to step in and start at either tackle spot is 6-5, 307-pound
Dane Stratton after playing in every game last year as a reserve.
The 6-5, 307-pound senior has the size to be a good blocker, but he
hasn't had to do more than play on special teams. He'll start out behind
Pemberton at strong tackle.
Watch Out For ... Starr. His emergence at
tackle allows the line to put the best players in the right spots. If he
struggles, then Adrian Martinez might end up moving back to the outside
and the problems of last year could kick in again.
Strength: Experience and depth. Technically, all five
starters return and there's good depth to provide options and a
rotation. This is a good-sized line that should be punishing for the
Weakness: Pass protection. The line was abysmal in pass
protection for the second year in a row. After giving up 41 sacks in
2006, the Ram front five allowed 37 last year. With a new starting
quarterback and new starting receivers, being better at keeping the
quarterbacks clean will be job one.
Outlook: The line took a major step forward last
year blasting open holes for the running game on a consistent basis for
the first time in years. Now the the front five has to keep the
quarterback from being a grease spot. There's more than enough size,
depth and experience to be even better, and it has to be one of the
team's strengths. The goal is to be more physical, and this group will