Colorado State and Hawai'i: The Battle for the Basement

A true Rams fan! -

Two one-win teams square off, with nary a conference win between them. The winner will take a step out of the Mountain West basement, while the loser is back to the drawing board.

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GAME: The Colorado State Rams vs. The University of Hawai'i Warriors
WHERE: Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, CO
DATE/TIME: Saturday, Oct. 27th, 2012, 5:00 p.m. MT
RADIO COLORADO: AM 560 KLZ in Denver, KCOL 600 AM in Ft. Collins, KSIR 1010 AM in Ft. Morgan and KNZZ 1100 in Grand Junction
RADIO Hawai'i: ESPN 1420 AM

CONFERENCE: Mountain West
TEAMS: The Colorado State Rams (1 - 6, 0 - 3 MW) And The University of Hawai'i Warriors (1 - 5, 0 - 3 MW)

THE COACHES: Both first time head coaches Norm Chow and Jim McElwain are former offensive coordinators for successful teams, but finding little success early with the teams they have inherited. Chow, a native of Hawai'i has come home to coach the warriors, while McElwain is from Missoula, Montana and used to come to CSU to work with Sonny Lubick in the Ram's heyday.

THE SERIES: The Warriors and the Rams have played 20 times since the series started in 1925, in Honolulu; Hawai’i won 41-0. CSU holds the recent edge in the series as the Rams have won 6 out of the last 7 games played, including the last 3 in a row. CSU is 7 - 2 against the Warriors in games played in Fort Collins and is a slight favorite to win on Saturday. The Rams will be wearing the orange uniforms to honor the old colors of the CSU Aggies and are labeling the game an "orange out". CSU is 11 - 9 all time against the Warriors. Last meeting: Oct. 4, 1997, in Fort Collins; CSU won, 63-0.

KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: The University of Hawai'i Warriors have a lone, blowout win against Lamar: 54 - 2. Sean Schroeder, 20/42 attempts, 272 yards, 6.5 yd average, 1 TD and no int last week against the New Mexico Lobos, hopes to have success against a depleted Rams' defense. Leading rusher Will Gregory had 99 yards against the Lobos on 13 carries for a 7.6 yard average (long of 36 yards). The Warriors will also try to test the CSU secondary with Scott Harding, who caught a 51 yard TD pass last week, and Billy Ray Stutzmann, who had 6 receptions for 73 yards.

CSU, seemingly in a major rebuilding phase, will be starting its third QB this weekend against Hawai'i. Without Garret Grayson and MJ McPeek (who will be the emergency backup), Freshman Conner Smith will start his first collegiate game this Saturday. Coach McElwain and many CSU boosters are excited about the upside of the 6 foot 5, 220 LB freshman. CSU has had a week off to heal, so perhaps RB Chris Nwoke can finally return to form, along with fellow RB Donnell Alexander. The Rams hope to take advantage of Hawai'i's third worst defense, behind Baylor (allowing 44 points a game) and the University of Colorado (allowing 42.5 points a game), which has allowed 42.3 points a game. Look to tight ends Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright, receivers Lou Greenwood, Charles Lovett and Dominique Vinson to try to get the Rams ahead.

KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Over the last 4 games, the Warriors have allowed 1,301 rushing yards. Number 25 Freshman DB Marrell Jackson lead Hawai'i last weekend with 10 tackles, 9 of which were solo (1 assist). Fellow Freshman #36 LB Benetton Fonua was right behind Jackson with 9 total tackles (4 Solo and 5 assists). Freshman CB Ne'Quan Phillips has the lone interception for the Warriors on the year along with one of the three fumble recoveries. The main sack threat for Hawai'i is Paipai Falemalu with 3 sacks for 13 yards and one fumble recovery. Leading the Warriors in total tackles for the season is junior CB Mike Edwards with 24 Solo tackles. Hawai'i has a distinct problem when the same Mike Edwards is the leading offensive player as well, as the kick off returner, with 810 total yards. The second leading gainer is the RB Will Gregory with 479 yards.

The Rams' defense has played well at times, but has been let down by the stagnant offensive unit. Against Air Force, the listless Rams let AFA score 21 points in the first quarter. DE Lanston Tanyi has 47 tackles, 6.7 a game and currently ranks 4th among all FBS defensive linemen and has 2 fumble recoveries. Freshman phenom Cory James has a CSU freshman record already, with 6.5 sacks in only week 9 of the season. LB Shaquil Barrett and Junior CB Shaq Bell have played large roles in the CSU defense, assisted by senior LB James Skelton, who has sacrificed some playing time this season. The CSU defense has improved, but has consistently been let down by the offense and special teams. For the Rams' defense to do well, the players in the other phases will definitely need to step up, otherwise the Rams are looking at their first one win season since 1988!

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