After a frustrating loss to Colorado, the Colorado State Rams have no choice but to regroup. The Buffs were a 13 point favorite in the final instalment of the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Broncos Stadium (the series resumes next season in Fort Collins) and although CU covered the spread and then some winning the contest 52-31, the Rams looked to be the better team in the first half and perhaps much improved than a year ago. Collin Hill was sharp and freshmen Dante Wright was a pleasant surprise with 2 TD’s, 1 rushing and 1 receiving. Even defensively the Rams looked better. Unlike last season, CSU defenders didn’t seem so lost and were making routine tackles and plays that eluded them for the better part of the 2018 season. However, Colorado turned up the intensity and forced several turnovers in the second half, giving them separation they needed to walk away with the programs 5th win in a row over their in state rival.
During the post game press conference, CSU Coach Mike Bobo was clearly furious with how the game was officiated and who in fact was doing the officiating. “I don’t understand it. It’s too big a game not to have neutral refs,” Bobo told reporters. A controversial fumble ruling against the Rams to start the second half proved to be a back breaker. The officials ruled that Colorado safety Aaron Maddox jarred the ball loose from Colorado State’s Marvin Kinsey Jr. before Kinsey hit the ground. A replay review upheld the ruling, and Colorado scored soon after to take a 10-point lead. One official could be heard saying he thought the play was dead but the majority of the crew didn’t see it that way. “I mean, it’s bull crap. It’s bull crap,” said Bobo, upset with the fact that Pac 12 officials were able to call the game. “It’s big, too big … You tell a team to ease up and running back to stop, and a play’s going and then they reward Colorado with a fumble.” It is important to note that according to the series contract, the home team provides officials for the game. Colorado served as the home team Friday, so a Pac-12 crew worked the game. Hopefully the Rams can lead by example next year and put an end to how the two teams go about scheduling officials for the RMS.
While the game ended with a lopsided score and left Rams fans irate, there’s certainly some positives that lead me to believe Colorado State might find their way back to a bowl game. The Mountain West conference will be scary good if week 1 is any indication but if the Rams can build off a few key points from their season opener, they should have no problem winning at least 6 contests.
Reasons for optimism:
- Collin Hill: The Junior went 31/47, 374 yards and 3 TD’s and looked very comfortable behind a seemingly better offensive line. He threw 2 INT’s and had a fumble but it’s fair to say that the 2 picks were unbelievable plays by Mikial Onu (one in the back corner of the end zone and another diving catch out of bounds). The fumble was an all out blitz from CU later in the ball game and Hill was blindsided. Much of the summer, both in state qbs Hill and CU’s Steven Montez were compared and hyped as future next level talents but it was Hill that stood out the most and should be considered an NFL prospect. Injuries have plagued the QB but for the first time since Bobo and Hill joined forces fans are finally getting to see what the offense is suppose to look like when the major piece goes as planned to start a season. I look for Collin Hill to have a great year for the Rams
- Dante Right started his football career with a bang; catching a TD and rushing for another while gaining 131 all purpose yards. I am not sure if he can keep those kind of numbers going week in and week out but he proved to be a nice weapon for the Rams offense that should get better as the season progresses.
- Wide Receiver U is alive and well in Fort Collins. Warren Jackson had 8 receptions for 87 yards and td. He averaged nearly 11 yards per catch and I’d say he can do even better. Look for big numbers for him all season. Speaking of WR’s, we have yet to see the transfer from Auburn, Nate Craig-Myers. He’ll be a welcome addition to what should be an already potent offense.
- It’s hard to say the defense looks to be improved when you see 52 points from an opponent but several TD’s on that scoreboard were direct results from turnovers by the Rams offense. Safety Jamal Hicks lead the team in tackles with 13 and the unit as a whole appeared to pack more of a punch than last year. Are they a solid unit? I wouldn’t say that but they do look better. The Rams defense doesn’t have to be spectacular in 2019 they just need to keep from falling apart and letting 20 yard gains turn into 60. In 2018 they looked lost more often than not. Against CU they had guys in place and in position.
I picked CSU to win 5 games this season but after seeing a Rams team with more fight than all of last year and an offense that looks a lot more like a Bobo, high scoring unit, I can see them winning at least 6 and enough to get back into a bowl game. However, it will be difficult in what should be a very good Mountain West Conference. Boise State is a ranked team yet again while Fresno State, Wyoming, Utah State, and Nevada should all be good this year. CSU will need to make the most of the non-conference schedule before jumping into a complicated conference run that starts with a trip to Utah State on September 28th.
Last week was tough for Mike Bobo and his team but even after losing a contest by 21 points, I think Rams fans should feel much better about this team than an hour before kickoff a week ago.