EDIT: This week are re-running our team posts looking at the upcoming season, which originally debuted in August. We are running all posts as they originally were, regardless of scheduling or personnel changes.
After three straight 7-6 seasons that concluded in bowl game losses from 2015-2017, the Mike Bobo led Rams finished 3-9 and 4-8 over the past two years. Despite having an abundance of talent on his offenses and playmakers on his defenses, Bobo was never able to take his team to the next level, falling short of expectations year over year. Last season was the final straw for Rams fans and head decision makers alike as the program felt it was time for a change. Bobo’s less than impressive beginning and hard to watch ending landed him on the chopping block, leaving CSU in need of a new head coach.
Enter Steve Addaizo, former HC of Temple from 2011-2012 and of Boston College circa 2013-2019. Addaizo has a 57 and 55 record as a head coach, going 13-11 at with the Owls and 44-44 in Massachusetts. Neither is all that impressive but considering his stint at Temple was his first head coaching opportunity and going .500 at BC, a bottom dweller in the ACC, it is not all that horrible either. One thing the Rams know they are getting with their new coach is a stellar defensive scheme. Addaizo knows how to coach up a secondary in coverage and how to get his teams to stop the run. Though his offenses hardly scared their opponents, their defenses were consistently stingey and would not allow many points to be put up on them.
This will be a very interesting year for all sports due to the current pandemic and although the Big Ten, PAC-12 and ACC have already made their rulings, there are still many conferences who have yet to make a statement on the matter, including the Mountain West. Despite this, we will be taking a look at CSU entering the 2020 season and try our best to predict how the year will play out.
Reasons for optimism: Skill Positions Receivers Warren Jackson and Dante Wright with tight end Trey Mcbride. That’s it. That’s all you need to know about the offense. Kidding aside, the offense runs through their three weapons as well as through the arm of quarterback Patrick O’Brien. In his second season at the helm of the offense and a year of rapport under his belt with his receiving trio, there is no reason why the Rams can’t be even better in 2020.
Cause for concern: Offensive Line Tackle Barry Wesley is as good as it gets in the Mountain West as he was a rock for the Rams last season. But outside of Wesley, CSU does not have much to boast about. The team is losing starting tackle T.J. Storment and guard Jeff Taylor, who were both exceptional in pass protection. The other returning linemen, C Scott Brooks, OT Keith Williams, and OG Nouredin Nouili were all less than impressive in 2019 and will need a big leap in 2020 in order to keep their QB upright.
Wildcard: Marcus McElroy Jr. Colorado State’s senior running back is their X-factor entering next season. The offense already owns three elite receiving threats and a QB to get them the ball, all it needs is a running back to bring the thunder to its already established lightning. On 80 carries in 2019, McElroy ran for 370 yards and three touchdowns. His 4.6 yards per carry is exactly what Rams fans will want to see once again in 2020, just with 100+ carries and Marcus looks to be the next bell-cow back.
Reasons for optimism: Defensive Line The destructive duo of Emmanuel Jones and Ellison Hubbard are both returning next year and look to once again torture opposing quarterbacks. Jones is one of the best pass rushers coming off the edge in the entire Mountain West and Hubbard is solid rushing up the middle, creating one of the best d-line combos in the conference. As long as both players remain healthy, the Rams front four will cause problems for MW offenses.
Cause for concern: Secondary The backend of the defense is losing starters Jamal Hicks and Andre Neal as well as rotation piece Anthony Hawkins. Even though none of the three were rare talents, they still accounted for a large portion of the secondary snaps last year and will need to be replaced by less experienced defensive backs. All the returning secondary members with playing time last year allowed touchdowns and missed tackles (though CB Marshaun Cameron was the best of the bunch).
Wildcard: Dequan Jackson/Cam’ron Carter The two returning linebackers will be key to the defense in 2020. Although the defensive line has pass-rushing ability all over, only Jones was strong against the run. This requires the Rams LBs to stop running backs from breaking off for large gains. On top of this, they will need to lock down the middle of the field as the DBs already have their hands full with the deep ball and outside routes. If Jackson and Carter can excel in both areas, it would significantly make up for the woes of the other units on the defense.