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3 Thoughts as Colorado State Goes 3-9 For the First Time Since the Fairchild Era

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since suffering three losing seasons in a row in 2011, Colorado State has ended their season with a 3-9 record. It seems as if Colorado State was doomed from the beginning. Faced with massive coaching turnover from the coaching carousel that took place last summer, Colorado State was forced to start over with a new staff under Bobo. In addition to the coaching attrition during the summer, Mike Bobo was hospitalized for peripheral neuropathy in his feet right before the beginning of the first game against Hawaii. That illness kept him away from practice for 10 days. Simply put, the Rams were unable to recover from such change.

Fans have frequently called for Bobo to be fired. But with the immense buyout written into his contract, cutting him loose was never an option; and CSU athletic director Joe Parker confirmed that in his statement released on Monday. After being manhandled by the boys down south at the Air Force Academy, the only thing the Colorado State can do is right the ship in the off-season and put a forgettable year behind them. Here is a list of 3 things to pay attention to during Colorado State’s off season.

Preston Williams still has another season of eligibility. Will he return to campus as a senior?

Preston Williams, who transferred from the University of Tennessee, was one of the few bright spots in the 2018 season. Though he was not a Biletnikoff finalist like the last two big-time receivers to sport the green and gold -- Rashard Higgins and Michael Gallup – he was still the Ram’s biggest offensive threat. The former 5-star recruit is only a junior and still has another year of eligibility left, but many have speculated that he will leave early for the NFL Draft. Williams certainly has the physical traits to be able to play in The League. His top-end speed, acceleration, height, long arms, and strength put him above all other receivers in the Mountain West in terms of raw talent.

But Williams’ finer skills still have room for improvement. In the Air Force post-game interview, Bobo mused that “he’ll make some of those unbelievable catches sometimes, and then drop the routine ones.” In terms of route running, he still has a long way to go in order to be considered an elite route runner. In order to tout a “doctorate” in route running -- as Steve Smith would say – Preston Williams needs a few years under his belt. Will he take advantage of another year to develop his skills under Alvis Whitted? It remains to be seen at this time, but one thing is for sure. We will see Preston Williams in the NFL Draft at some point in the future.

Bobo said that there will not be any expected coaching changes. How do they get better?

In his post-game press conference, Mike Bobo stated plainly that he will not fire any of the coaching staff under him, but he believes that the Rams must get “tougher and stronger.” Bobo usually speaks pretty plainly, and doesn’t mince words when it comes to taking responsibility for the team’s shortcomings. That means don’t look for any big coaching changes if he says that there will not be any.

But how do the Rams get tougher and stronger? Consider that the Rams were one of the youngest teams in the country, with only eight returning starters. Simply giving those younger players time to develop physically might provide a huge boost – especially in the trenches. Another major factor is the return of CSU’s best defensive lineman, Toby McBride. McBride – older brother of CSU tight end, Trey McBride – suffered a serious back injury during the 2017 season. CSU lost their leading tackler on the defensive line, and arguably their best defensive player overall. Once he is able to return to the game, the Rams defense should be a force to reckon with in the trenches, a claim CSU has not been able to make in many years.

Finally, the Rams hope that the strong recruiting years Bobo has had during his time as the head ball coach should come to fruition (more than it already has). But will he be able to continue that strong recruiting momentum he has enjoyed? As of right now, CSU sits with four commits, according to 247 Sports. That includes a recent pick up of a huge offensive lineman --TJ Storment -- out of Fullerton College (a junior college in California). Bobo has previously said that he is comfortable with the where the Rams are, and decided to focus on recruiting later in the year. Bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.

What will happen at the quarterback position?

One thing that has driven fans crazy throughout the season is the quarterback competition between Collin Hill and K.J Carta-Samuels. When Bobo was able to court K.J Carta-Samuels – who was expected to compete for a job at UCLA – to Fort Collins, a quarterback competition immediately began. Fans were excited to see who would win the job outright. Unfortunately, with Collin Hill’s second ACL tear in the summer of 2018, the job would essentially become Carta-Samuels’ by default.

Carta-Samuels performed the job successfully for the most part. Faced with an offensive line that was downright offensive to watch at times, K.J. was under pressure much of his time under center. This led to Bobo’s decision to begin to bring Collin Hill into the mix once his knee healed. After essentially creating a two-quarterback system, Bobo seemingly couldn’t make up his mind as to who he wanted to handle the offense.

Hill finally regained the full amount of snaps until being sidelined in the final game against Air Force. That means that barring no further injuries, he should be the assumed starter for the next season, right? Well don’t forget about Patrick O’Brien, the transfer from Nebraska. O’Brien -- who was given a scholarship offer during his original recruitment – may be a viable contender for the QB position in 2019. It would be the first year he is eligible to play, under NCAA transfer rules. If Hill manages to stay healthy, and O’Brien shows he’s starting material, will we see another QB carousel in 2019? It’s difficult to say right now, but one thing is for sure: Ram fans will have a lot to discuss all summer long.