Kickoff: September 9th, 1:00 pm CST
Location: Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
TV: Pac-12 Network
Stream: Pac-12 Now
Radio: AM1300/AM930/89.9 FM
Series Record: 0-0
Betting Line: Colorado -35.5, O/U: 58
Last Meeting: First Meeting
There’s an Iron Maiden song called “Stranger In A Strange Land” and the title is kinda reminiscent of Texas State’s upcoming showdown with the University of Colorado Buffaloes. Except the song is from the viewpoint of a survivor who’s a part of an expedition trapped in an icy, inhospitable environment and the survival of the crew despite the odds. Well, maybe the Bobcats and the Adrian Smith-penned song have a little more in common than I thought (sans the icy environment, at least not in September).
Texas State faces their first ever Pac-12 opponent and they happen to be the defending Pac-12 South champs and they also happen to be a 30-plus point favorite and they also are a P5 team looking to run the Bobcats over while looking toward their quest for a conference title. But can it all be that simple? Let’s take a look.
Come Together Right Meow
Texas State could’ve essential shut out Houston Baptist last week except the offense lacked some timing, some costly penalties were committed and an ill-fated tipped pass and a botched shotgun snap kept the Huskies in the game.
While it was a little too close for comfort in the nine-point win the optimism is waranted as a new weapon emerged and a familiar face returns. Running back Anthony Smith ripped off 10 plus yards a carry including a third quarter romp that put Texas State in the driver’s seat. To add to the array of Bobcat receivers is Thurman Morbley who led the Bobcats in receiving yards last year. Morbley missed the first game this year due to suspension.
A big adjustment that Texas State will need to make is on the offensive line. At times the big hogs looked like they were on separate pages but it’s expected from a very young and inexperienced line. They have the size, they just need to utilize the skills they possess and become one in order for Damian Williams and the rest of the backs to succeed.
Staying on the topic of Williams, who was a big topic going into last Saturday, had a modest debut completing 64.3% of his passes for 145 yards and 45 yards on the ground with a touchdown. His timing with the receivers was a little shaky at times but that can be chalked up to limited practice time this fall because of academic issues. But not to worry Bobcat fans, he has the talent and eventually we could see Williams and his experienced receiving troop get on the same page.
Buff Buff Pass
The Pac-12 is a world away from the Sun Belt conference and so to give our readers some insight on out next opponent I asked our friends over at the Ralphie Report for some insight and beat writer Jack Barsch was kind enough to shed some light with a Q & A about Colorado and their football team:
What aspect of Colorado's team is the strongest? (i.e.: O-Line, secondary, etc.....)
That’s a good question. Going into last week’s game against CSU, I would have said the receiving corps is far and away the best unit on this team. The receiving is still great, but the defense is giving me pause. The defensive front could be very disruptive this year, which is surprising given how much they replaced. If you force me to answer this question with one unit, I would say the receiving corps still has the best top-end talent and depth on the team. You can’t key in on just Bryce Bobo or Devin Ross or Shay Fields, you also have to account for the bodies coming off the bench. Juwann Winfree, Johnny Huntley, Jay MacIntyre, all of these players are threats and they can all be on the field at the same time.
How does this year's team compare to last year's team that won the Pac-12 South?
Another good question. Last year’s defense was historically great for the program and had some of the best senior leadership I’ve ever seen. That team was salty and just refused to lose. The 2016 Buffs were the ultimate definition of “gamers”, they showed up when it counts, until the postseason. This year’s team needs to find its leadership. The defense seems to be on the same page earlier than expected, but the offense needs to work out some kinks that weren’t supposed to be there. Last year had an established identity and gave maximum effort every play. This year’s team has more raw talent, but they need to find who they are as a team and play towards that.
What breakout players should the Bobcats look out for?
Well, there’s the obvious players like QB Steven Montez and RB Phillip Lindsay on offense, or CB Isaiah Oliver and LB Rick Gamboa on defense, but those players have already broken out. If I was Texas State, I would watch for a heavier rotation at the receivers. Juwann Winfree looks to feature heavily in this game and KD Nixon is an exciting freshman to look for. On defense, I would look for even more play from LB Jacob Callier. He’s another exciting freshman who was CU’s best pass rusher last Friday. He will play a lot this year and comes off the edge hard.
Fun question: Quite a few Bobcats will be making the trip from the Hill Country to the Rocky Mountains. Any suggestions on great places to eat?
There are plenty of great places! Boulder is one of the best food cities in the West. For people trying to go upscale, I am less help, but you can pick any place in North Boulder and be ok. For people looking for the college experience, you’re in luck. The Hill and Pearl Street have the highest concentration of great spots, with the Hill being right next to campus and in the heart of student housing. Half-Fast Subs is a big name that has some good sandwiches and other delights, and the Fat Shack is perfect for post-game eating. You can’t go wrong in Boulder.
Easy Like Saturday Evening
If you watched Texas State play last Saturday you would’ve noticed the defense had a rocky start but as the game went on the Bobcats finally found their footing. The linebackers were superb as always as the duo of Loyd’s of London (Gabe Loyd and Bryan London II) spearheaded defensive coordinator Randall McCray’s 3-4 defensive attack. Another linebacker on a different level was Easy Anyama.
The senior linebacker ran wild recording five tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in route to being named Sun Belt defensive player of the week. His return from an injury last year makes this linebacking squad a formidble line of defense.
Well, I’m not gonna lie. This may be the toughest test Texas State faces this season. Colorado boasts a dangerous set of receivers. Unless Texas State’s secondary plays lights out it’s going to be a long day. Besides a defensive lockdown the Bobcats will need to play efficient and mistake free football with a few breaks going for Texas State. I’d like to see a Bobcat take over on offense and rack up some yards to keep the game competitive.
I’d like to see the game be competitive for a while and I’d expect a loss with the odds being so far. There is a line in the aforementioned song that goes, "but now it seems to me that all is lost and nothing gained", which mirrors a hopeful takeaway from the game. Even in a loss it would be great to see the team be competitive and at least leave Boulder with confidence. That aside, I never disfavor Texas State so I will compromise. Either a close upset win say, 44-42, or a CU win within a reasonable double-digit margin.
Also I want to thank again Jack and the writers at The Ralphie Report for their contributions.