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2009 Colorado State Preview - Offense
Colorado State WR Rashaun Greer
Colorado State WR Rashaun Greer
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 24, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Colorado State Ram Offense

Colorado State Rams

Preview 2009
- Offense

- 2009 Colorado State Preview | 2009 Colorado State Offense
- 2009 Colorado State Defense | 2009 Colorado State Depth Chart
-
2008 CSU Preview | 2007 CSU Preview
| 2006 CSU Preview 


What you need to know: If the backfield develops quickly, this could be one of the most effective offenses in the Mountain West. Steve Fairchild had said from day one that his offense wasn’t going to do anything cute. It was going to pound away with the big offensive line, and it did. But the supposed weakness, the deep passing game, turned out to be the strength, and it should be a major positive again with the tremendous twosome of Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer returning. But who’ll throw to them? It’ll be a battle up until the end, and maybe even beyond, with Klay Kubiak and Grant Stucker the two main options. The running game loses all its power with Gartrell Johnson and Kyle Bell gone, but there’s more speed now with John Mosure and Alex Square getting more work. However, it’ll be up to JUCO transfer Leonard Grant to be the main man when it comes to a workhorse. Whoever’s running the ball will have a veteran line to work behind with four senior starters.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Klay Kubiak
19-37, 252 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Dion Morton
14 carries, 129 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Rashaun Greer
63 catches, 1,114 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Dion Morton
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Grant Stucker or sophomore QB Klay Kubiak
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Leonard Mason
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Rashaun Greer
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Morton, 2) Greer, 3) OG Shelley Smith
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver, experienced line
Weakness of the offense: Running back and quarterback experience

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Gone is Billy Farris after a strong under-the-radar season, and now it’s a battle to see who can take over. 6-2, 207-pound senior Grant Stucker hasn’t seen much action, completing just 3-of-5 passes for 22 yards last year, but he’s been around long enough to be ready. The one-time star recruit hasn’t turned out as expected and he hasn’t progressed enough to take the job by the horns, but he’s a great athlete who ran for 43 yards with a touchdown, with a live arm. If he turns out to be the main man, he’ll be the best CSU running quarterback in a long time.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Klay Kubiak would probably be the odds-on favorite to take over the starting job if he didn’t have problems with a shoulder injury. The 6-0, 202-pounder is the son of Houston Texan head coach Gary Kubiak, and he’s really smart and will be very efficient when he gets his chance. He completed 19-of-37 passes for 252 yards with two interceptions in his little time on the field last season.

A sleeper in the race for the job is Jon Eastman, a 6-2, 214-pound JUCO transfer who would’ve been courted by bigger-name schools if he hadn’t suffered a foot injury last year. Not only does he have a big, accurate arm, but he’s tremendously strong and runs a 4.5 40. He returned late last season to lead Snow College to the JUCO national title.

Behind in the hunt for the job, but with the potential to be a star in the near future is Alex Kelly, a 6-2, 199-pound lefty who was a good recruit for the program last year. The redshirt freshman is mobile and has big-time upside, even though he’ll likely be no better than third on the depth chart.

Watch Out For ... the quarterback situation to be unsettled for most of the year. It was supposed to be the same problem last year before Billy Farris took hold of the job and was excellent. Stucker and Kubiak will likely be head-to-head for the gig up until the last practice, while Eastman will be an interesting prospect who’ll demand a look.
Strength
:
Options. While there might not be a lot of FBS experience and there will be some extreme rough spots to deal with, the coaching staff will get a good look at several different players to find the right fit.
Weakness
:
Proven production. Eastman is likely the most ready to go after his time as a JUCO passer, while Kubiak and Stucker have seen enough practice time to not be totally green. However, the team will likely have to find one quarterback, live through the faults, and hope for the best. If there’s a problem early on, will there be a quick hook? It’ll be tempting.
Outlook: Everything will be fine. As much as this will be a worry after losing Billy Farris, all the good options will produce a solid, steady starter. Will the passing game be as productive as it was last year? With a veteran offensive line and a great receiving corps returning, it’s possible no matter who takes over the job. Don’t count out the possibility of a rotation to get Grant Stucker’s speed in the mix along with the practice experience of Klay Kubiak.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter: How can the offense lose Gartrell Johnson and his 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns and be better? There could be more speed in the backfield now that John Mosure will get more work. At 5-10 and 202 pounds, he won’t provide the power or Johnson or Kyle Bell, but he’ll add more flash. In his limited role, he ran for 122 yards with two touchdowns and he caught 16 passes for 122 yards while also serving as a devastating kickoff returner. The runner up for the 2005 Mr. Florida award could be the Mountain West’s breakthrough star.

6-0, 242-pound junior Zac Pauga doesn’t get any rushing work, but he’s been a solid receiver over the last few years catching 19 passes for 114 yards last year. A sledgehammer of a blocker and has been fantastic at picking up the blitz. While not a great athlete, he can line up as a slot receiver or an extra tight end.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Alex Square has had a hard time finding his way on the field serving most of his time on the special teams. An elite speedster, he might get the ball in a variety of ways to try to pick up yards in chunks. However, it’ll be the first time in his career he’s been able to do much of anything offensively.

Fitting the Colorado State profile is Leonard Mason, a 6-0, 215-pound JUCO transfer who can pound away as a workhorse and will break off a big dash from time to time. The junior ran for 1,273 yards and 11 touchdowns for College of the Desert in California, and he was a decent receiver as well. He was recruited hard by several Pac 10 schools and could be the instant star of the Ram offense.

Backing up Zac Pauga at fullback 6-1, 244-pound redshirt freshman Jason Klingerman, who won’t see any carries and might not even be used as a receiver. He’ll be a blocker with the size and the strength to grow into a good one with a little bit of playing time.

Watch Out For ... Mason. Mosure could certainly be a key back, but Square is mostly a specialist who can’t be used for long stretches. Mason is the back the offense can eventually revolve around, but he’ll have to work his way into the role.
Strength
:
Speed. Last year it was about power with Johnson and Bell barreling over defenders, but this year it’ll be about the quickness of Mosure and Square until Mason is ready. They’ll all be used in a variety of ways as receivers and runners in different formations.
Weakness
:
Experience. Mosure was good when he saw his time in the lineup, but Square has been purely a special teamer. Yes, Mason has been great on the JUCO level, but that’s a whole other world.
Outlook: The overall rushing numbers weren’t all that great, averaging 148 yards per game even with a big year from Gartrell Johnson. There will be a rotation of backs as the coaching staff doesn’t expect anyone to be Johnson and carry the ball 278 times. Unless Leonard Mason is ready, the ground game will try to use smaller speedsters in John Mosure and Alex Square early on. With a veteran offensive line paving the way, the holes will be there. Now the speedy backs have to produce.
Rating: 6

Receivers

Projected Starters: Last year the receiving corps needed Rashaun Greer to become a major factor, and he did with a team-leading 63 catches for 1,114 yards and three touchdowns averaging 17.7 yards per catch. The 6-1, 203-pound senior is one of the fastest players in the Mountain West. A star hurdler on the CSU track team, he has the elite-level wheels along with the size to be a matchup nightmare. He put together a consistent and explosive season with four or more catches in nine games highlighted by an eight-catch, 211-yard, one touchdown day against UNLV. He’ll use his speed on the outside X position.

Once again working on the inside Z position is Dion Morton, a 5-10, 163-pound senior who was second on the team with 51 catches for 859 yards and a record-setting ten touchdowns after returning from a season-ending ankle injury. The 5-10, 163-pound senior is the brother of former Ram star receiver, Damon, but he made a name for himself last season, especially down the back stretch, scoring seven times in November including a three-touchdown day against Wyoming. Also a dangerous kickoff returner, he’ll be used in a variety of ways to get his speed and quickness into the open field.

Starting in three-wide sets will be Matt Yemm, a 5-11, 182-pound sophomore who came to CSU as a quarterback. Extremely quick with elite open-field speed, he’ll be used in the rotation at the Y position as a field stretcher. He didn’t catch a pass last season.

Taking over for third-leading receiver Kory Sperry will be Eric Peitz, a 6-5, 250-pound junior who stepped in two years ago when Sperry went down with a torn ACL and served mostly as a blocker. While he caught five passes for 29 yards last season, he’s mostly needed to open holes for the running game. However, the coaching staff will get him the ball to try to replace Sperry’s 38 catches and six touchdowns.   

Projected Top Reserves: The offense will be looking for former quarterback T.J. Borcky to come up with a breakout season. The 6-4, 197-pound sophomore will work on the Z adding more size than Dion Morton. While he doesn’t have Morton’s quickness, Borky is an excellent athlete who should pose matchup problems in single coverage. Getting his feet wet, he made two catches for 11 yards in his first season.

Expected to be a star in the near future is Marquise Law, a 6-4, 195-pound redshirt freshman who looks the part with 6-4, 195-pound size and good speed, but he’s trying to come back from a knee injury that cost him his first season. The Miami native was courted heavily by schools like Wisconsin, Ole Miss and South Florida, and eventually he’ll be the starter on the X.

Also on the X will be Ryan Gardner after seeing a little time making 13 catches for 88 yards. The 6-1, 170-pound senior has the speed to do far more. A former JUCO transfer, Gardner has 4.3 speed and a 42-inch vertical, and while he’s unpolisihed, he has the skills to be a devastating deep threat.

6-5, 258-pound senior Norman Gee will work behind Eric Peitz at tight end after catching one pass for a yard last year. Purely a blocker and special teamer, the former Duke Blue Devil isn’t expected to be a big part of the offensive game plan, but he has the athleticism to become a decent target if pressed into full-time action.

Watch Out For ... the backups. There’s no question that Morton and Greer are 1-2, but Gardner, Law, and Borky are all expected to push for more playing time. Throw in JUCO transfer Jyrone Hickman, the cousin of Anquan Boldin, into the mix and the Rams are loaded with options.
Strength
:
Speed and experience. Stretching the field isn’t going to be a problem for this group that might win a track meet of the Mountain West receivers. Greer averaged 17.7 yards per catch last season while Morton averaged 16.8. Expect more of the same.
Weakness
:
Tight end. Peitz has been waiting his turn as the understudy and is expected to become a factor, but replacing Sperry and his 38 catches for 492 yards and six touchdowns will be difficult for a career blocker.
Outlook: The 2007 receiving corps was supposed to be among the best in CSU history, but it wasn’t. Last year’s receiving corps was raw but unproven, and it turned out to be terrific. Now, with Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer retuning to form a tremendous 1-2 punch, the receiving corps will be a major strength. There’s even more speed and athleticism behind the two stars, and there will be plenty of options for the coaching staff to play around with. The team needs to develop some of the younger stars to be ready to hit the ground running next year, but players like Matt Yemm and Marquise Law could make big impacts this season.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The star of the veteran line will be 6-4, 293-pound senior Shelley Smith, a second-team all-conference guard who went from a decent work in progress to a devastating run blocker. A fantastic athlete on the inside, he’s able to get on the move and get down field like a must smaller lineman and is great at springing big runs. He’ll work on the weakside again.

The other all-star is center Tim Walter, a 6-6, 290-pound senior who overcame his ankle problems of 2007 to start in every game in the middle. A great leader and excellent at making the line calls, he has the potential to be the best center in the Mountain West with another consistent year. Extremely tough, he was able to shake off a knee injury to keep playing late in the year.

The one open spot is at strong tackle, but 6-5, 282-pound junior Mark Starr is hardly a new face to the line. One of the team’s most versatile linemen, he started his career at tight end before moving to tackle. He saw time in all 13 games seeing action at both tackle spots, and while he’s not the team’s best run blocker, he’s great on the move and good in pass protection.

Senior Adrian Martinez started most of last year before suffering a knee injury. The 6-4, 303-pound senior is a very tough strong guard with a big-time attitude. While he’s had various knee problems throughout his career, he’s been able to fight through them to become one of the team’s most devastating run blockers. He’s not the best athlete on the line, but he’ll pound over anyone in his path.


6-7, 316-pound senior Cole Pemberton is back at the weak tackle position and should be in for a big year. Thrown to the wolves early on in his career before he was ready, he did a decent job despite having problems with an ankle injury. Slimmed down a bit after starting out his career around 330 pounds, he has gotten better and has turned into one of the leaders on the line with his tremendous work ethic. Fine in pass protection, but not special, he could stand to be a bit steadier.
 
Projected Top Reserves: Looking to get some time at strong guard is junior Scott Benedict, who could step in and start if Adrian Martinez ever moves back to tackle. The starter two years ago, he suffered a foot injury and was knocked out for the year. Now the 6-4, 289-pounder returns as one of the team’s most experienced backups, but he still needs work and playing time.

The big key to the practice time this year will be to get more work for the inexperienced tackles. 6-4, 272-pound junior Ryan Griffith isn’t huge, but he’s a great athlete on the weakside playing behind Cole Pemberton, while 6-4, 280-pound sophomore Paul Madsen can play either tackle spot and will start out behind Mark Starr on the strongside.

Watch Out For ... Starr. Starr’s ability to hold down the strongside tackle spot allows Martinez to play a far more natural guard position. Starr allows the best players to be in the right spots.
Strength
:
Experience. With four senior starters returning and Starr a solid veteran, this has the potential to be among the Mountain West’s best lines. There are two sure-thing all-stars in Smith and Walter, and Pemberton isn’t far behind.
Weakness
:
Depth. There isn’t any. It’s a major goal of the coaching staff to find backups who can play and will be ready to go next year when the four senior starters graduate. It’ll be devastating if injuries strike early on.
Outlook: The team’s biggest improvement over the last few years, the O line allowed 41 sacks in 2006, 37 in 2008, and just 26 last season. With four senior starters, this is an air-tight front wall that’s great at pounding away for the running game (which is a major step forward from two years ago) and should be even better in pass protection. There’s no developed depth whatsoever, but the starting five should be devastating.  
Rating: 7.5