NEW ... 2010 Colorado State Preview
Colorado State LB Mychal Sisson
Colorado State LB Mychal Sisson
Posted Aug 9, 2010 2010 Preview - Colorado State Rams

Colorado State Rams

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Steve Faichild
3rd year: 10-15
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 13, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Colorado State Players
1. LB Mychal Sisson, Jr.
2. LB Ricky Brewer, Sr.
3. FS Elijah-Blu Smith, Jr.
4. RB John Mosure, Sr.
5. RB Leonard Mason, Sr.
6. RB Raymond Carter, Jr.
7. FB Zac Pauga, Sr.
8. DE Cory Macon, Sr.
9. OT Paul Madsen, Jr.
10. TE Eric Peitz, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Colorado
Sept. 11 at Nevada
Sept. 18 at Miami Univ.
Sept. 25 Idaho
Oct. 2 TCU
Oct. 9 at Air Force
Oct. 16 UNLV
Oct. 23 at Utah
Oct. 30 New Mexico
Nov. 6 at San Diego St
Nov. 13 BYU
Nov. 20 at Wyoming

Everything was going so well.

Head coach Steve Fairchild appeared to have the program turning in the right direction with a 7-6 2008 season complete with a New Mexico Bowl win, and after starting off 2009 3-0 including wins over Colorado and Nevada, excitement was high. The Rams had won six in a row and seven of their last nine going back to the end of the previous season, and although the nasty part of the slate was coming up with the first three Mountain West games coming against the killers (BYU, Utah, and TCU), no one could've foreseen what was going to happen next.

The offense that had been so productive over the first three games of the year kept on doing relatively well, cranking out 372 passing yards against BYU and running for 150 yards or more in six of the last seven games, but the defense went into the tank, the losses started to mount, and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, Colorado State went from being the hot, up-and-coming Mountain West program to going on a nine-game losing streak with everything in disarray.

Particularly galling, considering the way Fairchild was preaching the idea of being tougher and more physical, was the way the Rams were losing. Injuries were a problem, but no excuses were given by anyone around the program as the run defense got ripped up time and again over the second half of the season. Allowing 271 yards to the Air Force ground attack and 275 to TCU is one thing, but to give up 270 yards to New Mexico was unacceptable.

It's possible the last half of 2009 was a blip. The team played well in a loss to Utah, four of the losses were by a touchdown or less with three of them coming by a total of five points, and in the end there were seven bowl teams on the schedule with Wyoming and Idaho turning out to be tough, but that still doesn't sit well. The hope has to be that if the team was healthy, tighter, and more confident, the 3-9 disaster could've very, very easily have been a 6-6 tread water campaign. And now the hope has to be that things can quickly turn around this year.

The linebacking corps, helped by the return of Ricky Brewer, will be among the best in the Mountain West, there's speed to burn at running back, and three starters return to an experienced secondary. The line is undergoing an overhaul, but it's big and tough, the receivers, while inexperienced, are fast, and the defensive front should be solid. The pieces are there to get back to a bowl, and while Year Three under Fairchild was supposed to be when it was time to challenge for the Mountain West title, and that's not happening, that doesn't mean this can't be a strong year to show that things really are in the right direction.

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. T.J. Borcky was the safest option going into the offseason, but he might end up moving to wide receiver. Jon Eastman was the starter at the end of last year, but no one is doing cartwheels over the idea of him as the full-time man. Freshman Pete Thomas is the most talented option of the lot, and the coaching staff might sink or swim with him. Overall, the interceptions have to come down and the efficiency has to improve.

What to watch for on defense: The return of Ricky Brewer. The team's most productive linebacker two years ago, Brewer was booted off the team last year for a violation of team rules. A model citizen and teammate since then, he was able to get back in everyone's good graces and into the starting lineup on the strongside. Combining with Mychal Sisson on the other side, the Rams now might have the Mountain West's best outside linebacking tandem, and with veteran Alex Williams back in the middle, the corps should be a rock.

The team will be far better if … the defense can come up with a third down stop. Texas led the nation in third down conversion defense allowing teams to convert just 26.5% of the time. Mountain West champ TCU was second allowing conversions 26.8% of the time. Only three teams allowed offenses to convert more than half of the time: Western Kentucky, Idaho, and Colorado State, who finished dead last in the nation by a big margin allowing teams to convert 54.65% of their chances. Through the air, on the ground, it didn't matter; anyone who wanted to move the chains, did.

The schedule: After the way last season quickly turned into a disaster, nothing can be taken for granted. However, the schedule is good enough to hope for a bowl bid as long as the Rams win the games they're supposed to. Starting off against Colorado and Nevada won't be easy, but getting Miami University and a home game against Idaho should help the record before the problems kick in. Beating TCU at home might be a program-changer, but coming away with a win is a stretch. BYU has to come to Fort Collins, too, but going to Air Force and Wyoming are bad breaks and a trip to San Diego State won't be easy. A hot start is a must considering three of the last five games are on the road.

Best offensive player: Senior RB Leonard Mason … or senior RB John Mosure … or junior RB Raymond Carter. And Lou Greenwood might be the team's most explosive back. Mason led the team in rushing with 766 yards, but it was Mosure who showed more pop averaging 5.2 yards per carry with seven scores. Carter, the transfer from UCLA, is big and extremely fast, and Greenwood is a dangerous enough playmaker to be used as a Wildcat quarterback. The backs are in place to generate the type of ground game the coaching staff has been looking to count on for the last few years.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Mychal Sisson. While Ricky Brewer could quickly take over the role as the team's top defender, Sisson is the star going into the season after leading the team with 91 tackles, six sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss ad with five broken up passes from the weakside. While he's not all that big, he's extremely active, doesn't make any mistakes, and he hits like a ton of bricks. He has to stay healthy with a banged up shoulder, but it'll take something major to get him off the field.

Key player to a successful season: The quarterback. Whoever it is has to be efficient and has to keep the mistakes to a minimum. The first part of last season was promising with plenty of bombing and big plays from Grant Stucker, but his production dissipated when the team started losing. He's gone, and now the four options the coaching staff is playing around with have to sort out into some sort of a pecking order the team can rely on, and it'll be a must for the starter to be given the rope to make some mistakes.

The season will be a success if … CSU gets back to a bowl. With six very winnable games, as long as the Rams play up to their talent level and don't give away any wins to teams like Wyoming, Idaho, and San Diego State, they'll get to a bowl game. However, there are just enough road games against decent teams to make this difficult. For a program looking to reestablish itself in the Mountain West, it's time to do something positive.

Key game: Oct. 9 at Air Force. CSU is 0-4 in the last four seasons against the Falcons and have lost five of the last six in the series, but coming off a tough Mountain West opener against TCU and with a trip to Utah coming up two weeks later, coming up with a win in Colorado Springs is a must to stay alive in the conference race. It'll be an interesting test for what might be the league's best linebacking corps.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Third Down Conversions: Opponents 94-of-172 (55%) – Colorado State 53-of-150 (35%)
- Fumbles: Opponents 19 (lost 8) – Colorado State 12 (lost 3)
- Second Half Scoring: Opponents 222 – Colorado State 115

- 2010 Colorado State Preview | 2010 Colorado State Offense
- 2010 Colorado State Defense | 2010 Colorado State Depth Chart
- Colorado State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006