2009 Colorado State Rams Football Preview
2008 Record: (7-6, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: New Mexico Bowl vs. Fresno State (W 40-35)
Coach: Steve Fairchild (7-6 at Colorado State, 7-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Peterson
Defensive Coordinator: Larry Kerr
Other Key Returnees: LB Ricky Brewer, G Adrian Martinez, DT James Morehead, FB Zac Pauga, OT Cole Pemberton, G Shelley Smith, C Time Walter
Key Losses: RB Kyle Bell, QB Billy Farris, S Jake Galusha, DE Tommie Hill, LB Jeff Horinek, RB Gartrell Johnson, S Mike Pagnotta, DT Matt Rupp, K Jason Smith, TE Kory Sperry, OT Dane Stratton
In his first year at Colorado State Coach Steve Fairchild turned a 3-9 team into a 7-6 team, which included a win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. He had some experienced players to work with, but now the big names are all gone and there is some rebuilding to do. The Rams can certainly make it back to a bowl game, but it will not be easy in a difficult Mountain West Conference.
Colorado State's Strengths:
The best unit on the Rams could end up being their offensive line. Four starters return and guard Shelley Smith should compete for all conference honors. Most of the linemen are seasoned veterans now and they should be able to dominate most opponents. The other strength is in the defensive back seven where linebackers Mychal Sisson and Ricky Brewer are back to lead a relatively experienced unit. The secondary may lack a superstar, but there are certainly plenty of options for defensive coordinator Larry Kerr. Elijah-Blu Smith, Klint Kubiak, Nick Oppenneer and Gerard Thomas are all capable playmakers and could be up for a good season.
Colorado State's Weaknesses:
However, the defense will not be any better than they were last year if the front four cannot get pressure on the quarterback. Colorado State ranked dead last in the nation in sacks last season and that has to change. Most of the linemen who were ineffective last year are gone, which could be a good thing, but this defense will get torched if the new look front line cannot get into the backfield. On the other side of the ball it is the skill players that will have a new look. Quarterback Billy Farris is gone and so are running backs Gartrell Johnson and Kyle Bell. Johnson pretty much carried this team late in the 2008 campaign and finding a new rusher will not be easy. Yet, with an experienced line, it is feasible that a player like John Mosure could be in for a surprisingly decent 2009 season.
The Bottom Line for the Rams:
Colorado State will definitely depend on the ground game as much as they can, but they will need to find a steady quarterback too. Farris was not always the most efficient quarterback around, but he got the job done. Now the battle for the starting position is between Klay Kubiak and Grant Stucker. Kubiak has a little more game experience, but his experience last season resulted in zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. Either way, the quarterback will be happy to have 1,000 yard receiver Rashaun Greer back.
By Joel Welser
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