2009 CFN Colorado State Preview
Colorado State WR Dion Morton
Colorado State WR Dion Morton
Posted Jul 24, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Colorado State Rams

Colorado State Rams

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By Pete Fiutak

- 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 

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Head coach: Steve Fairchild
2nd year: 7-6
Returning Lettermen
Off: 24, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Ram Players
WR Dion Morton, Sr.
2. LB Mychal Sisson, Soph.
3. WR Rashaun Greer, Sr.
4. OG Shelley Smith, Sr.
5. C Tim Walter, Sr.
6. OT Cole Pemberton, Sr.
7. CB Gerard, Thomas, Soph.
8. SS Klint Kubiak, Sr.
9. CB Nick Oppenneer, Jr.
10. FB Zac Pauga, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Colorado
9/12 Weber State
9/19 Nevada
9/26 at BYU
10/3 at Idaho
10/10 Utah
10/17 at TCU
10/24 San Diego State
10/31 Air Force
11/7 at UNLV
11/21 at New Mexico
11/27 Wyoming

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7

2008 Record:

8/31 Colorado L 38-17
9/6 Sacramento St W 23-20
9/20 Houston W 28-25
9/27 at California L 42-7
10/4 UNLV W 41-28
10/11 TCU L 13-7
10/18 at Utah L 49-16
10/25 at San Diego St W 38-34
11/1 BYU L 45-42
11/8 at Air Force L 38-17
11/15 New Mexico W 20-6
11/22 at Wyoming W 31-20
New Mexico Bowl
12/20 Fresno State
W 40-35

Colorado State couldn’t seem to come up with the big wins needed over the end of the Sonny Lubick era to be a part of the Mountain West fun. While there were big problems last year, and huge issues this year, the first season under Steve Fairchild brought about a major change: wins.

Yes, the Rams came up with four of their seven wins by five points or less, including a 23-20 win over Sacramento State, and yes, there was only one really good win, a 28-25 victory over Houston, before beating Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl, but for a program that won seven games over the previous two years and hadn’t come up with a winning season since 2003, it was a major positive step forward.

The big key was being able to be more physical on both sides of the ball, and it was mission accomplished on the offensive side with a good year from an improved offensive line, but the defensive front was a nightmare. But at least the coaching staff is doing a good job of addressing the problems and is great at playing to the team’s strengths.

The strengths are major with Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer forming a tremendous 1-2 punch for the receiving corps, four senior starters are back on the offensive line, and an emerging superstar in Mychal Sisson at linebacker, But the weaknesses aren’t just problems; they’re big, gaping, ten-mile wide concerns.

The pass rush was the worst in America last season and now all the key starters are gone (which might not be a bad thing). Injury (Jake Pottorff) and suspension (Ricky Brewer) makes the linebacking corps and defensive front seven far weaker. The secondary needs help at safety and needs a pass rush for the corners. What it all means is that Colorado State might have to bomb away and win shootouts to get back to a bowl game. Considering the strides made last year, the team and the program should be able to do it.

What to watch for on offense: The offensive line. Losing RB Gartrell Johnson and solid QB Billy Farris might be a concern if there wasn’t a great receiving corps returning and a veteran line to work behind. The line was among the worst in college football a few years ago, but it worked through the growing pains to come up with a  good 2008, and now it should be fantastic with three likely all-stars, guard Shelley Smith, center Tim Walter, and tackle Cole Pemberton, leading the way.

What to watch for on defense: A desperate attempt to find something that works. The Rams came up with a few stunning defensive performances, like in the 13-7 loss to TCU and the 20-6 win over New Mexico, but those were the rare exceptions. The pass rush came up with a nation-low ten sacks, CSU was next-to-last in the country in tackles for loss, and the run defense didn’t do anything. Considering six starters need to be found in the front seven (actually, it’s five, but DT James Morehead is hurt), and with major issues in the secondary, being able to do anything well early on will be a plus.

The team will be far better if … a pass rusher appears out of nowhere. 8.5 of the team’s ten sacks produced last year are gone, and worse yet, the team’s leading returning pass rusher is corner Elijah-Blu Smith. Cory Macon has good potential at one end and Same Stewart and Ben Tedford have speed and quickness, but one of them actually has to come up with sacks on a regular basis.

The Schedule: Try this for the start to the Mountain West season: At BYU, Utah, and at TCU. Thanks for playing, CSU. However, if the Rams can survive the first half of the season, they could be in for a big year with three of the last five games at home and the only one coming against a bowl team a home date with Air Force. The non-conference schedule has its moments. Colorado, now that it’s healthy, should be much better, but that rarely matters in the season-opening rivalry. Weber State is a win, and the trip to Idaho has to be a win, but playing Nevada at home will be a key battle in the hope for a bowl trip. The Wolf Pack running game will be a great test for the CSU ground game.

Best Offensive Player:
Senior WR Dion Morton. Rashaun Greer is also a star with the speed and size to get interest from the next level, but last year’s leading receiver doesn’t have the pop of Morton. With a team-record ten touchdown catches, and after finishing third on the team in rushing, Morton is the playmaker that every team will have to stop first. He’ll shine with Greer taking away attention on the other side, and vice versa.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Mychal Sisson. Only 5-11 and 201 pounds Sisson is hardly a prototype-sized linebacker, but he’s lightning fast and is as sure a tackler as they come. He made 105 tackles last season and six tackles for loss, and with the loss of running mate Ricky Brewer, he’ll have to do even more.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DE Cory Macon. The line has to generate pressure from somewhere, and if Macon or Sam Stewart can’t bring and heat from the outside, the defense will have to manufacture production from other spots. The linebacking corps can’t afford to not focus on its own tasks and the secondary could use all the help it can get.

The season will be a success if ... the Rams go to a bowl game again. There are way too many problems to even think about winning the Mountain West title, but there’s enough offensive explosion and enough overall speed and athleticism to get back to a bowl game. Eight wins would be a major step forward.

Key game: Sept. 5 at Colorado. It’s one of college football’s most entertaining rivalries, but the Rams have lost the last two games against the Buffs and have lost five of the last six. Beating CU would do wonders for the team’s attitude to kick off the year with winnable games against Weber State and Nevada to follow. If CSU is good enough to beat Colorado, it’s good enough to beat one of the Mountain West’s big three (Utah, BYU or TCU).

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Opponents 26 for 104 yards – Colorado State 10 for 73 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 15-of-20 (75%) – Colorado State 8-for-25 (32%)
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 104 – Colorado State 68

- 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