2010 Colorado State Preview – Offense

Posted Aug 9, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Colorado State Ram Offense

Colorado State Rams

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Pat Meyer has a strange mix of talents and pieces to put together. The running game has some excellent speedsters and talents with John Mosure, Leonard Mason, and Raymond Carter leading the way, but the line has to replace several key starters from a group that got stronger as 2009 went on. The underwhelming passing attack loses almost all the key players including starting quarterback Grant Eastman, and while Jon Stucker took over the job late, he's not expected to be a big part of the mix unless freshman Pete Thomas falls flat on his face. The offense needs to be more consistent and it needs an identity. While the hope will be to pound away with the running game and to be more physical, the team isn't good enough to not have an efficient passing attack to rely on.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jon Eastman
43-69, 494 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Leonard Mason
156 carries, 766 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Zac Pauga
25 catches, 219 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB John Mosure
Player who has to step up and be a star: Freshman QB Pete Thomas
Unsung star on the rise: Junior G Jake Gdowski
Best pro prospect: Senior FB Zac Pauga
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pauga, 2) Mosure, 3) RB Leonard Mason
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Pass Protection
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, Consistency


Projected Starter: In the wild and crazy battle that is the Colorado State quarterback situation, true freshman Pete Thomas has the upper hand as the coaching staff will live through mistakes to get to the upside. The 6-5, 218-pounder is a pure pro-style passer with a big-time arm and enough mobility to get by. Whip-smart, he could've gone to Harvard and got full scholarship offers from Northwestern and Boston College, and he had no problem picking up the Ram offense this offseason after getting to school early. The Californian threw for 5,553 yards and 52 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions over his last two high school years.

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Nico Ranieri stepped up this offseason and became a factor in the race for the starting job. The 6-2, 204-pounder from Orlando isn't going to run much, but he's a solid passer with the toughness of a defensive player. Recruited by several bigger name schools to be a free safety, he's accurate enough and has a big enough arm to be an excellent No. 2 if he's not the main man.

Junior Klay Kubiak was supposed to become a key factor in the starting race last year but a lingering shoulder problem forced him to redshirt. At 6-0 and 193 pounds, he's not all that big but he has a good, efficient arm and is smart enough to make all the right reads. The son of Houston Texas head coach, Gary Kubiak, can't seem to get his shoulder right, but if he's healthy he'll get every chance at the job.

Watch Out For … an ongoing quarterback issue. The Rams have six viable options including T.J. Borcky, Jon Eastman, and Kansas State transfer M.J. McPeek, and the job continues to be there for the taking.
Strength: Youthful talent. Thomas is a strong talent who should be the face of the program for the next four years. He's mature, has the tools, and he's ready to fight through the adversity. Ranieri is more than good enough to develop into an option.
Weakness: Veteran talent. The passing game was stuck in the mud after a good-looking start, and now the team has to rely on a slew of unknowns.
Outlook: The coaches would like to throw the ball deep in a high-octane pro-style attack, and Thomas should be the man to do it. However, don't write the depth chart in pencil as there will be major changes over the next few months and into the season. At least there are options.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior John Mosure was a spot starter and an effective runner when he got the chance averaging 5.2 yards per carry finishing with 650 yards and seven scores with 177 yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico and 130 yards and a score against San Diego State. At 5-10 and 208 pounds he's not the most powerful runner, but the 2005 Mr. Florida runner-up is quick and can be used more as a receiver as well as a kickoff returner if he can stay healthy. Dinged up at times last year with a concussion, he has to prove he can be a full-season workhorse.

Senior Zac Pauga is the team's leading returning receiver making 25 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns, and now the starting fullback will get even more work. A decent runner who ran for 55 yards on short yardage plays, he's a stronger receiver and a nice pounder for the ground game. He's great at picking up the blitz and he's a hole blaster at a compact 6-0 and 248 pounds. A tremendous athlete for his size, he could even line up as a receiver if needed.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-0, 212-pound junior Raymond Carter was an extremely promising prospect … for UCLA. He was a top recruit considered one of the best all-around backs in the nation, but he tore his ACL right away and never found a fit getting a little bit of work in 2008 before transferring. Very, very fast, he was a California state-champion level sprinter and was good enough to be in the World Junior Olympics. However, he has to show he can stay healthy.

Former JUCO transfer Leonard Mason stepped in and became the team's leading rusher with 766 yards and two scores last year with three 100-yard days. Dinged up throughout the second half of the season and missing two games, he managed to keep coming back and producing closing out with 119 yards against Wyoming and with 130 yards and a score against Utah. At 6-0 and 213 pounds, he's big, tough back who could be used as a workhorse, and even though he only caught six passes he could be used more as a receiver.

Sophomore Lou Greenwood will be used in a variety of ways as a kick returner as well as a speed runner. He finished third on the team with 147 rushing yards with two scores, caught 13 passes for 221 yards and three scores (averaging 17 yards per catch) and averaged 19.2 yards per kickoff return. At 6-0 and 183 pounds, he has decent size to go along with his tremendous speed, and the coaching staff will do what it can to get the ball in his hands including in the Wildcat formation. Watch Out For … Carter. The UCLA transfer could be the most talented back the program has had in a long time if he can stay healthy and hold up. For a team looking for more flash from the ground attack, he should provide it.
Strength: Speed and quickness. Carter has tremendous straight line speed, Mosure can fly, and Greenwood has to get the ball in space. If the backs get room, they can fly.
Weakness: Production. After a disappointing 2008 averaging 148 yards per game, the Rams averaged 144 last season and sputtered against the top teams. With 66 yards against BYU, 70 against TCU, and only hitting the 200-yard mark once (the loss to UNLV), the steady production simply wasn't there.
Outlook: There will be a good rotation with several options and some good speedsters to get a shot at time, but the offensive line needs a lot of work. The combination of Mosure and Mason provides a strong 1-2 punch, while Greenwood and Carter are dangerous. Throw in Pauga, and the talent is in place to do far more.
Unit Rating: 6


Projected Starters: Taking over on the outside X will be Byron Steele , a 6-3, 207-pound sophomore with excellent size and good enough deep speed to stretch the field. While he had problems with a shoulder injury, he was still able to get his feet wet making two catches for 60 yards, but the upside is there to be a strong home-run hitter.

5-9, 186-pound senior Tyson Leggett isn't big and he isn't a blazer, but he averaged 14.9 yards per catch making 17 grabs for 253 yards and three scores highlighted by an 11-catch, 156-yard, one score day against BYU. He'll get the first look at the inside Z position and will be a yards-after-catch target who needs to be a reliable safety valve.

Senior Eric Peitz stepped into a role a few years ago when the opportunity was there, but he has only been a blocker most of the time. At 6-5 and 255 pounds, he has good size and is strong enough to be a key factor for the ground game, and he showed off a little bit of receiving ability last year with 14 catches for 114 yards and three scores before getting knocked out for the year with a shoulder problem. He's a decent short-range target who can be used more on third downs.

Projected Top Reserves: When the offense uses a third wide receiver in the F position, 5-11, 193-pound junior Matt Yemm will get the work after making five catches for 54 yards. Extremely quick with elite open field speed, he can be used at a variety of positions, and the former quarterback knows how to get open.

Sophomore Marquise Law looks the part with 6-4, 193-pound size with good speed, but he's still trying to prove he's over a knee injury he was hit by in 2008. The Miami native was given the full court press by Wisconsin, Ole Miss, and South Florida, and he'll now push for a spot somewhere and will likely see time on the Z.

When the offense needs a second tight end, and another dangerous receiver, it'll be up to 6-4, 233-pound redshirt freshman Matt Weems to become a part of the passing game. He has the hands and the quickness, and the former defensive lineman isn't going to be afraid to hit anyone.

Watch Out For … Steele. The Rams need a dangerous home run hitter, and while Steele might not be a proven playmaker quite yet, he has the potential to be one of the offense's biggest weapons.
Strength: Spread around production. The CSU offense does a nice job of sharing the wealth, and it doesn't really matter if there isn't a true No. 1 target. Rashaun Green led the team in receptions, but he didn't score. Seven other Rams caught touchdown passes, with five catching two or more.
Weakness: A true No. 1 target. Okay, it would be nice if the Rams had one guy who could be relied on in the clutch and could throw a scare into opposing defenses. Dion Morton was the deep threat who averaged 17.7 yards per catch and will be missed, while Greer was a nice home run hitter.
Outlook: The passing game was a disappointment considering Green and Morton formed a deadly 1-2 combination. It might take a little while before anyone loses sleep over facing this year's group, but there's a decent mix of size, speed, and tight ends to spread the wealth around and get the offense moving through the air. However, this isn't likely to be a strength.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: One of the few holdovers from last year, senior Mark Starr is back at the strong tackle after starting five times last season. In 2009 he was the new face of the front five, and now he's the grizzled veteran. At 6-5 and 296 pounds he has decent size and he has a little bit of experience, and he has the versatility to move around and work at either tackle spot. The former tight end has good athleticism in pass protection, but he has to stay healthy after suffering a torn pec.

Trying to hold down the strong guard spot will be senior Ryan Griffith after working as a backup tackle. He isn't huge at 6-4 and 269 pounds, and he's built more for the outside, but the hope will be for his athleticism to make a difference on the inside. While he won't pound over anyone, he'll be decent in pass protection.

Is Tyler McDermott ready? The 6-2, 274-pound junior will be pushed for playing time, but for the moment he's the safest option in the middle as he takes over the center job. He has seen just one game of action and hasn't done anything yet, and now he's being asked to be the quarterback of the front five. He has the leadership ability and he has been good in practices, but he'll need a little time. At 6-3 and 299 pounds he's one of the team's biggest linemen, and he was fine when he got his chance.

Getting a long look at the weak guard spot will be junior Jake Gdowski, who's one of the line's most experienced players after starting the first four games last season until Shelley Smith came back. Very smart and insanely strong, he can bench press the stadium and he should be the anchor for the running game.

6-4, 299-pound junior Paul Madsen was a key spot starter last season while showing good all-around blocking skills, and now he'll work at weak tackle in a full-time role. Very athletic with good lateral movement, he's good at shuffling and great at getting to the next level to come up with key blocks. While he's not the most physical blocker, he's good enough to count on when the O needs to come up with a big play.

Projected Top Reserves: If it's not Ryan Griffith at strong guard, it'll be Connor Smith , a 6-4, 287-pound senior who got a little bit of starting work in as a redshirt freshman but didn't see the field last year. Strong, smart, and just experienced enough to step in and start whenever needed at either guard spot, he'll be a factor as long as he can get past a shoulder problem.

One of the team's top recruits in 2008, the 6-6, 288-pound Joe Caprioglio is ready to play a role. The sophomore was wanted by places like Nebraska and Michigan State, and he has the upside and the feet to take over the starting weak tackle job with a little bit of time. While he'll be a part of a rotation this year, at best, he'll end up being a good one before his career is over.

Watch Out For … Gdowski. With NFL strength and great size, the junior could be a blaster of a run blocker. It's asking a lot to be Shelley Smith, but he has the raw skills to come close.
Strength: Tackle. The pass protection was solid, and If Starr and Madsen can stay healthy, the quarterbacks should get even more time. There are nice reserves waiting in the wings, but the depth needs developing.
Weakness: Cohesion. With some big losses from last year's solid line, it could take a while to find the right fit. It wasn't like the play of the front five was dominant even with all the good, veteran blockers, and now it'll take some patching to be at least as good.
Outlook: Gone are Shelley Smith, Cole Pemberton, and several key veterans from a line that was a few years in the making. While the cupboard isn't totally bare, it might take a little while to find the right fit and come up with the right combination. The veterans have to be rocks, and the young prospects have to play up to their potential right away.
Unit Rating: 5

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