College Football Preview: The 2014 Colorado State Rams
Colorado State has to bolster some key areas to achieve success in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
Head coach Jim McElwain looks to lead his Colorado State Rams to consecutive Bowl appearances.
Overview: Colorado State has high expectations after a successsful 2013 but McElwain needs running backs and bodies on both lines to succeed which is where his recruiting prowess will be the difference.
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Offense: Quarterback Garrett Grayson appeared to be the backup in 2013 before he exploded and was named the starter and the results tell us why. Grayson threw for nearly 3,700 yards with 23 TD's and 11 picks on 62% completions and is surprisingly the top returning runner with 247 yards. Grayson has a veteran receiving corps to throw to with five of the top six returning including Rashard Higgins (68-857) and Joe Hansley (53-614). Three star freshman Bryce Peters figures to be the main man in the rushing attack but the O-Line returns All MWC LT Ty Sambrailo and virtually no experience so we shall see how McElwain has recruited right off the bat.
Defense: The defensive line needs help with three of the top four gone which makes having a loaded linebacking crew all the more important. MLB Max Morgan recorded a team high 102.5 tackles while Cory James brings back 12 TFL and eight sacks. Shaquil Barrett is the only loss but it's a huge one as he posted 20.5 TFL and a team high 12 sacks. It's hard to ask this group to do more but with the line having some question marks somebody has to tie up loose ends. The secondary gets back seven of nine but the key here will be avoiding the big play which happened often enough in 2013 to be a concern once again.
Special Teams: Hayden Hunt averaged 42 yards on 68 punts while Jared Roberts was a phenominal 21-24 on field goals including 8-9 from 40+ yards. Tyree Simmons can handle all return duties while Joe Hansley was primarily bringing back punts.
Outlook: Colorado State has some large holes to fill but as I said before, McElwain seems to have recruited well and with a fairly weak schedule the Rams look like a logical bet to see the postseason once again.