Friday, November 08, 2019

2019 Ram Recap - Week 1 - The Buffaloons

In the current CSU losing streak in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the Rams have lost by 3 (2015 OT game), 37 (2016 hot disaster game), 14 (2017 offensive pass interference game), 32 (2018 domination game), and now 21 (2019 first half hope game). Outside of the first RMS under Mike Bobo in 2015, this game has not been competitive. Even the 14 point loss in 2017 felt like a larger point spread than the scoreboard indicated. Naturally, my prognostication for the Rams was bleak. I had predicted a loss. I had predicted a CU blowout.

Courtesy of CSU
And then the first half happened. After nearly forcing a punt on their opening possession, CU scored a touchdown on their opening drive to take the first lead of the game. The predictions started to become reality and we were six minutes into the game. Fortunately, the Rams responded immediately with a quick six play drive that resulted in a 39 yard touchdown pass from Collin Hill to freshman Dante Wright. Tie ball game. The Rams defense then forced a punt. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?! The following drive ended with a spectacular interception in the end zone for a CU touchback. The Buffs drove down the field, but the defense held them to a field goal. The next possession, CSU put on an offensive clinic, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown on a Warren Jackson reception. For the first time since who knows when, the Colorado State University football team had a lead against the hated Buffaloes (actual name: bison) from Boulder. CU would take back the lead with another touchdown drive, but CSU responded with a touchdown drive of their own. With four minutes and two seconds left in the first half, my Rams had a lead and I truly believed that a victory was possible. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?!!

The Buffs scored another touchdown right before the half expired and the Rams had two straight turnovers to start the second half, but CSU was in a position to compete and win for three quarters of that game. That fact by itself is more than we had seen the past four iterations of that game. Yes, the Rams lost by 21. No, the Rams did not cover the spread. But there were a ton of positives to take with us on our midnight ride home.

The positives: 

  • Playing without Marcus McElroy (ankle), Marvin Kinsey and Jaylen Thomas moved the ball easily behind the best offensive line performance that we have seen since Will Friend left. From our vantage point in the southeast corner of the lower bowl, running plays looked like they had resulted in minimal to no gain - yet the running backs had followed the big uglies for gains of 5 or 6 yards. We could see holes developing and the line was clearly moving downhill off the snap. Let's hope this continues to improve as the season progresses. 
  • In addition to his ball-carrying responsibilities, Kinsey looked dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. 
  • Collin Hill looked composed and competent. 
  • Warren Jackson looked like the weapon we saw in Tuscaloosa in 2017 when he scored two touchdowns against Alabama. Freakishly tall and athletic, Jackson appears to be the next big thing to come out of Wide Receiver U. 
  • Dante Wright will make some plays this year. The true freshman had a receiving and rushing touchdown and clearly has some high-level speed. He will be fun to watch these next few years. 
  • Tackling had been a major issue the past few seasons and looked markedly improved (with the fourth quarter being the notable exception). Players actually wrapped up the ball carrier instead of trying to knock them down and bouncing off like a ping-pong ball. 
  • Big plays were mostly eliminated. CU did have a few large gains, but the story of the previous years were the explosive, game-changing 60 yard touchdowns that just broke the will and spirit of the CSU squad. Those did not happen this year. 
  • The tight end group looked stacked. Trey McBride and Cameron Butler were consistently open as check-down options for Hill and they ran the ball violently. These two will hopefully provide matchup problems for the remaining games. 

The negatives:

  • The defense just crumbled in the second half. CU ended up with 475 yards of offensive and 52 points to go along with it. For what is considered to be a bottom-tier PAC-12 team, that was too many of both. 
  • Mike Bobo's post-game comments on the refs, which were unnecessary and looked like whining.
  • The response to the refs comment was as bad if not worse. Bobo clearly did not blame the loss on the refs, but a man beaten five straight times by the same opponent was frustrated and those frustrations bubbled up. Again - Bobo's comments before and after the popularly quoted ref statement was that CSU got beat, citing poor discipline and costly mistakes. 
  • Speaking of costly mistakes: the Rams had a 4:0 turnover ratio. Your chances of winning a football game with those numbers are nil. 
  • The public address announcer inside of Broncos Stadium at Mile High was atrocious. The starting tailback for the Rams is named Marvin Kinsey Jr. Despite the fact that he was a starter, he was projected to be a focal point in the CSU offense, and his name is fairly easy to pronounce, the idiot PA guy called him "Kinsley". All game. 
  • The same moron with a mic frequently referred to Collin Hill as "Collin Hall". Arguably the most recognizable name on the CSU roster, the starting quarterback of the squad, and a last name you most definitely should not mispronounce, getting incorrectly called out over the speakers. Look at a freaking program before the game, guy. 

Up Next - Week 2: 

The Rams host the Western Illinois Leathernecks (what?) on Saturday. The Rams offense should have their way with this FCS opponent. As long as the defense is somewhat competent, it should be a Ram victory.

Flick's Picks 

WeekOpponentPredictionResultFlick's Picks
1Colorado (Denver)LCU 52 - CSU 311 - 0
2Western IllinoisW

3at ArkansasL


5at Utah StateL

6San Diego StateL

7at New MexicoW


9at Fresno StateL

12Air ForceW
13at WyomingW
14Boise StateL

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