Colorado State Rams: Season Preview
After fifteen years of Sonny Lubick, Fort Collins finally had enough of him after he finished 7-17 in his final two seasons. Lubick went to nine bowl games going 3-6 and his best season was in 2000 when his Rams went 10-2.
Lubick went on to have 10 straight winning seasons and won six conference titles (WAC & MWC) from ’94-’03. It was also not just the final two that went bad, because he had actually had four straight non-winning seasons to end his long tenure.
With Lubick gone, enter the Fairchild era. He has a ton of coaching experience going back to the early 80s where he was at New Mexico, San Diego State, Colorado State, the Buffalo Bills, and the St. Louis Rams.
Fairchild is now entering his fourth season with the CSU Rams and is just 13-24 (6-18 MWC) with just one bowl appearance.
Former Bruin Needed in Backfield
Steve Fairchild has gone 3-9 in back-to-back seasons and a lot can be blamed on the lack of a running game.
They ranked 103rd in rushing offensive and averaged only 113 yards per game last year. Their number two and three rushers are back this season including UCLA transfer Raymond Carter (6-foot, 216 lbs, Senior) who ran for 235 yards and 1 TD before he got hurt and missed four games.
Chris Nwoke (6', 214 lbs, Sophomore) is the other back who is expected to spell Carter. Remember that both backs combined for less than 200 carries a season ago and the Rams line has been just abysmal.
Their best linemen is center Weston Richburg, who was a Freshmen All-American (Phil Steele) one season ago. There are three other returning starters and by the look of things this rushing offense should get back to producing unlike the past few years.
Next NFL QB?
The receiving core is decent, as they are led by running back turned receiver Lou Greenwood (6', 181 lbs, Senior) who led the team last year in yards (474) and was second in receptions (34) and TDs (2).
That is correct, two touchdowns was second on the team and the leader only had three! Scoring TDs all together has been an issue for the Rams and quarterback Pete Thomas only threw for 11 (13 INT).
Thomas is an upcoming solid signal caller due to the fact that he accomplished something no other Freshmen has in the history of the NCAA FBS.
His completion percentage of 64.7% was the highest ever for a Freshman and at 6'5, 219 lbs he has the talents to play on Sunday’s (better version of Caleb Hanie).
Not Built Ram Tough
The defense has six starters returning and will be led up front by a pair of solid linebackers.
Brian Orakpo’s brother Mike (6'1, 215 lbs Sophomore) and Mychal Sisson (5'11, 207 lbs Senior) are the headliners on this defense, but it is Sisson who is the stud. Sisson had 95 tackles for 10.5 tackle for losses and had 4.5 sacks.
The only man up front who can wreak havoc is Redshirt Freshmen John Froland (6'5, 260 lbs) who Fairchild says has the biggest upside of anybody in the front four.
The secondary has three back and they need a better season from Ellijah-Blu Smith, who had zero picks, which is something he has in common with nearly every single player on this defense. They finished 112th last last year in turnovers caused (14).
Also, the defense ranked 96th, allowing 423 yards per game and they allowed an average of 34 points per game (104th). Anyway you put it, they struggled mightily.
The schedule is much easier this season in comparison to the last few years. The Rams third game against their in-state rivals, the Colorado Buffaloes, may be a springboard towards conference play.
Colorado is going to be awful this year, but it will still be a brutal game. Unfortunately for the Rams, this rivalry has been more brutal to them in recent memory.
The toughest games will be when they travel to TCU, and get Boise State and Air Force at home. Their two road games against New Mexico and UNLV could ultimately determine whether or not Fairchild and his Rams will get back to a bowl game.
Predicted Finish: 7-5, 3-4
Predicted Bowl: None
Predicted order of finish in MWC: Fifth