Colorado State Returns Home With Questions
Can the Rams get their season back on track?
Week 4: Illinois State (2-0) vs Colorado State (1-3)
When: Saturday, September 22 – 1:00 PM MT/12:00 PM PT
Where: Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium; Fort Collins, Colorado (41,000)
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: CSU Flagship 102.9 FM | 1340 AM | 104.7 FM
Series Record: This will be the first meeting between CSU and Illinois State
The Colorado State Rams head into their last non-conference matchup of the year coming off a tough schedule of three straight Power 5 programs. They grabbed a victory against Arkansas, but turned in disappointing performances against Hawaii, Colorado, & Florida. They’ll look to rebound before conference play gets rolling.
They look to rebound against the Illinois State Redbirds. The Redbirds won’t be a cakewalk. Illinois State is ranked 15/16 in the two FCS polls (Coaches & Stats respectively). They are currently averaging 47 points per game. The Redbirds will look to earn their second straight victory over an FBS school (Northwestern, 2016).
Here’s how the Rams can get back in the win column.
Three Keys to a Colorado State Victory
Protect K.J. Carta-Samuels
The Rams offense runs with a clean pocket. There is a stark difference between plays with a clean and non-clean pocket for the Rams. The offensive line is young and needs to come together before conference play starts. The line knows they are having issues and are working together to get better chemistry.
Carta-Samuels has taken too many big hits and the Rams need him to stay healthy. When Carta-Samuels has a clean pocket, he has time to read the defense. When he’s rushed, he tends to make mental mistakes and costs the Rams at times. With a clean pocket, the CSU offense can run up and down the field all day.
Get The Running Game Going
I mentioned this last week and I’m going to pick on the offensive line again, but the Rams really need to get their running game going. Two weeks in a row, they were in the negative for rushing yards at one point during the game. They were able to finish with a positive total, but it wasn’t a large total.
Colorado State currently ranks 123rd in the nation in rushing yards per game with 82.3 rushing yards per game. The Rams showed some signs of life after getting Marvin Kinsey back from suspension. He was able to bust some runs against Florida. CSU needs to feed Kinsey the ball, as he seems to have an eye for the hole.
Continue The Defensive Growth
The Rams defense has grown week to week. After three straight weeks of over 400 yards, the CSU defense finally held an opponent to under 400 yards for the game. According to the Colorado State game notes, the Rams held two SEC offenses to 37 yards and six points over two quarters (4th Qtr vs Arkansas, 1st Qtr vs Florida).
That’s the growth the Rams have been looking for. They’ll need to step up again to contain the high powered Redbirds offense which is currently averaging 47 points a game. With a growing trust between coaches and players, the Rams look to take another step towards a better defense.