The Colorado State Rams had a decent season, but it could have been better. There were good and bad games, some breakout players, and some surprises.
Let’s start with the game against Colorado. I know Ram fans would like to scrub the earth of all memory of this game but it happened and the Rams got trucked. The Rocky Mountain Showdown was always going to be tough, but breaking in almost a full team’s worth of new starters didn’t help either. The Rams put on a disappointing performance and lost 44-7.
The season started to turn around during the Utah State and Boise State games. During the Utah State game the Rams were down 24-10 when Collin Hill was leading a drive and tore his ACL running for the first down. Nick Stevens stepped in and led the Rams to a 31-24 victory.
The Boise State was a turnaround game because of how it ended. The first half of that game was close, with CSU only losing 7-3 at halftime. In the third quarter and beginning of the 4th, the Broncos started to run away with the game. The Rams then went on to score on three consecutive drives that included 2 converted onside kicks to make the game 28-23. The Rams had one last chance but couldn’t convert.
After the Boise game, the Rams were 3-4 and then went on a tear and won 4 of their last 5, including blowing out the eventual Mountain West champions San Diego State. In that game the Rams controlled from start to finish and won 63-31.
The Bowl game, aka football on an ice rink. The weather played a big factor in this game as it messed up the Rams offense. A lot of the Rams offense is dependent on timing and the slick surface didn’t allow that timing to happen. Eventually the offense figured that throwing the ball deep worked, but it was too little, too late. The Rams lost to the Idaho Vandals 61-50.
Some key injuries that happened were Deonte Clyburn was lost for the season due to a blood clot issue. Adam Prentice, the Rams starting fullback, was lost days before the Rocky Mountain Showdown with a torn ACL. Collin Hill tore his ACL during the Utah State game and Marvin Kinsey tore his ACL during bowl game practice.
Some other loses, both Xavier Williams and O’Shea Jackson have been removed from the roster due to failure to comply with team rules.
Surprise players this year were mostly freshman. Bobo expects each incoming recruit to play right away, but some of the showed out a little more than others. Both Arjay Jean and Toby McBride on the defensive line were both surprises the way they were able to get after the quarterback in pass rushing situations. McBride was able to handle more and more all down situations as the season rolled on.
Secondary surprises include Braylin Scott and Jamal Hicks. Scott was always expected to be a big contributor but he stood out in the secondary this year. Hicks was brought along a little faster than the coaches would have liked due to injuries, but he adjusted well and rewarded the coaches confidence with an interception during the San Diego State game.
Offensive surprises include Marvin Kinsey, Collin Hill, Detrich Clark, and Michael Gallup. Kinsey turned the Rams two headed monster at running back into a three headed one. Collin Hill proved he could compete at the next level, he still has some growing to do, but he can compete. Detrich Clark gives the Rams a burner option whether running routes or jet sweeps.
Michael Gallup is listed as a surprise because he had to come out of his shell. Everyone on the team knew how talented he was and it was only going to be a matter of time before he broke out, which he eventually did with 7 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against Utah State.
The MVP for the 2016 season for the Rams would have to be Nick Stevens. After being named starter, getting pulled for a disastrous performance, and going back in; Stevens showed he had the poise and maturity of a leader and the coaches and team trusted him to lead them the rest of the way.
And Stevens responded in kind to that confidence, finishing the season with nearly 2000 yards passing, 19 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions to go along with multiple top 10 statistical rankings.
The Rams 2016 was a good one considering all they had going against them. If the team can continue to improve, they might just put the Mountain West on notice for the foreseeable future.