Our 28th team up in the “Know the Opponent” series returns to the Mountain West Conference for the second time in the last three rankings (UNLV was number 30). Colorado State is coming off a 3-9 season with a 1-6 MWC record which led to a new coach coming to Fort Collins this fall.
Jim McElwain takes over after a successful stint at the University of Alabama as offensive coordinator under Nick Saben. He was part of the staff with the Crimson Tide during the 2009 and 2011 national championship seasons, he joined the Rams prior to the Tide playing in last year’s BCS title game.
Colorado State will face Colorado on September 1 at Denver’s Sports Authority at Mile High, with kickoff at 1 pm and will be carried nationally on FX. Colorado defeated their in-state rivals 28-14 last season in Denver, the Buffaloes have won four of the last five meetings in the series.
The quarterback situation seems murky for CSU, Garret Grayson is the only returning QB listed on the depth chart. Grayson played in four games in 2011 as a freshman throwing for 542 yards and two touchdowns he also rushed 193 yards with a TD.
Leading rusher junior Chris Nwoke returns off a 1,130 yard campaign with nine touchdowns and had an 5.4 yards per carry average. In addition he caught 23 passes for 143 yards out of the backfield for the Rams. He’ll be joined four freshmen and a senior who didn’t seem to play much last season.
Junior Crock Gillmore who led the team in receiving last season from the tight end position with 468 and four touchdowns, he also had a 10.4 yards per catch average. Senior Lou Greenwood who caught only 26 passes for 396 yard is the leading receiver who returns but that does work out for a average of 15.2 yards per catch.
On defense senior linebacker James Skelton is the leading returner with 90 tackles last season, 41 solo, two forced fumbles and tackles for losses. Sophomore defensive back Austin Gray had 59 tackles in 2011 with 33 solo tackles and an interception.
My outlook on CSU this season is that it could be a long season but will have an opportunity early in the year to get some wins, however a week after Colorado they face the defending FCS national champion North Dakota State Bison. But having Wyoming and Boise State in the last four weeks could prove difficult for a young team in spots for McElwain’s first season.
2012 Colorado State Rams Schedule –
v. Colorado (Denver) 9/1
North Dakota State 9/8
@San Jose State 9/15
Utah State 9/22
@Air Force 9/29
Fresno State 10/6
@San Diego State 10/13
@Boise State 11/17
New Mexico 11/24