2021 Colorado State Football Defensive Preview
Looking at the Rams defense as it stands
Can the Rams defense maintain their momentum from last season?
The COVID pandemic hit some college football teams harder than others last season, with Colorado State among the hardest hit. The Mountain West originally postponed the season and then brought it back in a conference only format. Out of the eight scheduled games, CSU only played four of them. Three were cancelled due to the pandemic and one was due to a protest by Utah State.
Colorado State was up and down on defense, and this was mostly due to special teams. They ranked 104th out of 127 teams in scoring defense at 35.75 points per game. But they ranked 34th out 127 teams in total defense, allowing only 358.8 yards per game.
Defensive Coordinator Chuck Heater has virtually everyone returning and looks to continue the march towards a dominant defense. Special teams was a disaster last year, giving up 21 points to Boise being the major blemish. Head Coach Steve Addazio took that personally and promised to do better.
The strength of the Rams defense returns everyone from last year. As a team, the Rams ranked fourth in the nation with four sacks a game and first in the nation with 10.5 tackles for a loss per game. Leading the way for the Rams is Miami transfer Scott Patchan. In only four games last year he had five and a half sacks and seven and a half tackles for a loss. Patchan starts the year off earning recognition as he was announced to the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award.
— Colorado State Football (@CSUFootball) July 19, 2021
Joining him on the defensive front is Toby McBride. The older brother of Trey McBride and 2015 national championship wreslter, McBride has battled through numerous back injuries to get back to where he is today. He’s only managed 72 tackles and seven sacks in his career, but no one can deny the importance McBride plays in the d-line room in setting the standard they all look to achieve.
— Colorado State Football (@CSUFootball) June 24, 2021
We can’t leave out the others along the line including Manny Jones, Devin Phillips, and Ellison Hubbard. These three have been integral parts of the rotation and allowed the Rams to keep the pace of play high even with the starters off the field.
Others waiting in the wings include Boston College transfer Mike Ciaffoni, sophomores Cian Quiroga and Cam Bariteau, and freshman Grady Kelly, Mukendi Wa-Kalonji, and Tyler Quinn.
You can’t talk about linebackers at CSU without mentioning Dequan Jackson and Cam’ron Carter in the same sentence. The two are almost inseparable at the position. These two have been manning the middle of the Rams defense for the past couple of seasons and look to continue their hold for the next few seasons as well.
“A year ago, even the veterans were still learning the new defense,” Jackson told the Reporter Herald. “With the COVID stuff, we didn’t have enough time to get confident in it. So we couldn’t really teach and advance the younger guys because we were getting to know everything. But now we’re super comfortable. I’m confident in the playbook. I feel like I can teach it to just about anybody.”
Mohamed Kamara was the other starter for the Rams last season and looks to continue his growth this season. Last season was a struggle for the linebacking corps because of depth issues due to a low number of upperclassmen at the position. This led to freshman getting an inordinate amount of playing time. Aaron Moore, Bam Amina, and Tavian Brown look to have their say in the rotation this season.
Further backup arrived in the offseason thanks to Murray State transfer Anthony Koclanakis. He’s still learning the system, but his energy and previous output (124 tackles in 2019) make him a candidate to join the rotation. Also sticking his hand up is freshman Chase Wilson. He made an impression during spring camp and looks to be playing his way into the rotation.