Last season Colorado State experienced a year that wasn’t familiar to them. For the first time since 2012, the Rams finished with a losing record. Which also meant not making a bowl game. It was a season where fans knew there would be growing pains, but not the experience that occurred. The Rams were coming in with the second youngest team in FBS, losing players such as Michael Gallup, Nick Stevens and Dalyn Dawkins. Also replacing most of their offensive line. There wasn’t a ton of experience coming back. To be honest a potential sign the season was doomed was when starting quarterback Colin Hill re-tore his ACL in the off-season playing basketball. Finishing 3-9 had people calling for Coach Mike Bobo’s job. Every season is a fresh start and this year’s Ram team could go either way. Here’s why I believe it will be a rebound.
Reason 1: A healthier program
Two weeks before the Rams were supposed to open the season against Hawaii, Coach Mike Bobo was hospitalized with numbness in the hands and feet. That’s all that was disclosed at the time. There was an uncertainty whether he would coach the opener or even the season alone. The team kept preparing for Hawaii as he was in the hospital. He was released and cleared to coach three days before the first game. He wasn’t around for preparation so he couldn’t call plays and he was in the coaches box. It was difficult for him to walk and stand. The lack of his presence showed during that game before falling just short in a crazy wild game. It was a lingering thing throughout the season, but kudos to Coach for battling out what came out to be peripheral neuropathy.
Colin Hill being fully healthy this season and coming in as the starter should give this team a boost. If he can get back to 2016 form before the first ACL tear, he could be in for a big season. As he was splitting reps with grad transfer KJ Carta-Samuels before starting the final four games.
Reason 2: Change in Strength and Conditioning
The team last year was small and soft. They were pushed around in embarrassing fashion against FCS Illinois State. They couldn’t generate a pass rush or stop the run all season. The defense gave up 452 yards a game which translated to an average of 37 points allowed per game. They were in a new 4-3 defense under new DC John Jancek. The defensive line was undersized for a 4-3 system but the worst part is they were suited for a 3-4 either. They were tweeners because the lack of size. Under the direction of new Strength and Conditioning Coach Joey Guarasico he completely overhauled the program. A lot of early mornings and earlier spring practices so team can do more conditioning. You can start to see some differences; players look a little bigger. Their attitudes are much different as well. Only time will tell but there are some good signs early.
Reason 3: Schedule is lighter
Last season’s schedule was tough. Playing week 0 for the second consecutive season wasn’t smart with such a young and inexperienced group. This season you get a normal start on the season. Not playing three consecutive Power 5 opponents should help balance things out. This year’s schedule is a little wacky with two byes in three weeks in the middle of the season. However, it’s more manageable than last season. The first four games will be key for the Rams. Walking out of it 2-2 would be huge from a confidence standpoint. Winning one of the two Power 5 games should be what they shoot for at minimum. The Arkansas game will be the toughest of the four despite the razorbacks record last season. The importance will be winning the rivalry/trophy games. The Rams should have a shot in each game depending on their urgency.
This could work out to be a turnaround season if the team responds to the sense of urgency. Team should be more matured and stable being a year older. Staying together and weathering the early storm will be key. There aren’t a lot of expectations with this team which means they can sneak up on everyone. I believe this will be an improvement this year but not by much. 2020 could be a good one for the Rams.
Prediction: 6-6 record, 2-1 in rivalry games.