This week the UTSA Roadrunners will travel to meet an opponent that’s in a state of flux. With a new defensive coordinator and instability at the quarterback position, the Rams are a bit of a question mark heading into week two. In order to get a better idea of the Rams’ outlook for the 2016 season we got in touch with our SB Nation Group of Five comrades at Mountain West Connection to put our finger on the pulse of the Rams with a question and answer exchange.
Underdog Dynasty: Colorado State suffered a huge loss against rival Colorado during last Friday's Rocky Mountain Showdown as the Buffs claimed the Centennial Cup with a 44-7 score. Are you chalking CSU's performance up to rivalry game jitters or do you think the Rams' showing is cause for concern?
Mountain West Connection: I think it is a combination of cause for concern and not being prepared. A giant loss to a rival like this when the series has been competitive for the past couple of years is always going to generate cause for concern. I truly think this is gonna be chalked down to not being prepared. There was a new offense installed at CU and I don't think the coaches did their homework. Some of this can be contributed to the relatively young team we have. We had 14 players play in their first NCAA D1 game including 3 true freshman. I think as the season goes on some of the issues seen in the game should be fixed. If they aren't the Rams are in for a very long season.
UDD: After a very rough outing from Nick Stevens in week one head coach Mike Bobo has stated that he will reevaluate the quarterback position ahead of the UTSA game. Do you see Georgia transfer Faton Bauta claiming the starting spot? How do the two quarterbacks differ?
MWC: It's kind of funny that you ask the first question, because head coach Mike Bobo just named Bauta the starting QB this week in his weekly press conference. Bauta brings more experience in the system. He was under Bobo at Georgia for 3 years, so he knows the system. He's a more athletic QB than Stevens is, as he as the ability to run. During fall camp Bobo said both QBs think too much. However after watching the game, I think Stevens carries that over into games whereas Bauta doesn't. I think Stevens worries too much about what to do, where Bauta just lets loose and just plays the game.
UDD: The Rams had a tough time stopping the run against Colorado as the Buffs racked up 260 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Each of their ball carriers averaged over four yards per carry. What needs to change in the CSU defense to prevent UTSA from repeating Colorado's success on the ground?
MWC: I think a lot of that had to do with the new players and the tempo of CUs offense. I think the first game jitters was a problem at first, but as the game went on they settled down and started slowing down the run game a little. If CSU can recognize the play and get off blocks I think they can stop the run. The defense needs to calm and settle down, if they can do that instead of being in a frenzied hype, I believe they can slow down UTSA's running game.
UDD: Dalyn Dawkins was effective for the Rams despite a general lack of offensive efficiency for the Rams in week one. What makes Dawkins such a special back and how could a team seek to contain him defensively?
MWC: Dalyn Dawkins is the workhorse of the CSU offense. He plays bigger than he is. I think a lot of that comes from family, as his uncle is former NFL safety Brian Dawkins, and some it comes from trying to prove something as a smaller back. He had some ball handling issues last year as he had some fumbles happen at inopportune times. But he has worked on that this off season. So far, so good. We'll see how much that work has helped as the season goes on. To contain him, pretty much stack the box and force CSU to throw. He'll get his bursts every now and then, but having 8 in the box should help with the run defense.
UDD: Your prediction on how this week's game plays out?
MWC: I think the Rams come out pissed and try to take it out on the Roadrunners. I think it will be another close game like last year, but I think the Rams will come out on top. Final Score CSU 31-20 UTSA.
Thanks to Josh Fredlund for hooking us up with some great insight into the Rams. Be sure to keep your eyes on Mountain West Connection this week for coverage of Colorado State’s match up against UTSA. The two teams will kick off at 3:00 pm CST in Fort Collins on Saturday.