Scouting Report: CSU's Offense

This weekend the BYU Cougars travel to face the Rams of Colorado State. Total Blue Sports takes a look at some of the skill players the Cougar defense will face this weekend. Linebackers David Nixon and Coleby Clawson, as well as safety Kellen Fowler, give Cougar fans the report.

The report out of the Cougar camp is that CSU's offense is starting to click, similar to how UNLV's and New Mexico's offenses are starting to click. Quarterback Billy Farris is a smart quarterback who is both efficient and precise with his passes, and he has CSU's passing offense rated second in the MWC behind BYU.

"He's a smart player and takes care of the offense really well," said Coleby Clawson. "That's one thing I've noticed, is he doesn't make many mistakes and takes care of the ball and uses what he has on the offense really well."

Among the targets Farris is able to distribute the ball to are tight end Kory Sperry [who could move past the 5th spot on the CSU all-time receiving list this year] and receivers Rashaun Greer and Dion Morton.

However, from the Cougar linebackers' point of view, CSU's offense revolves around running backs Kyle Bell and Gartrell Johnson.

"They're both pretty good running backs, and from what we've seen on film they run really hard downhill," said Clawson. "They're both big-type backs and both have similar running styles. They're not really fast or really shifty and like to run north and south. They fall in the mode of more power backs."

"They have two really good backs that could end up being some of the better backs to play at CSU by the time they're done," said David Nixon. "Gartrell Johnson is a really good back for CSU, and he's not as big as Bell. Bell is a bigger back and plays more of a physical game, kind of how our offense is. Johnson is more of a shiftier back, but still plays with a lot of physicality. Their running backs are the strength of the team, along with their tight ends, who are great blockers. The combination of their backs and their blocking tight ends is going to be something that we haven't seen yet this year."

Both Bell and Johnson run in a similar style to that of New Mexico running back Rodney Ferguson, as they possess more power than speed. The Cougars are expecting CSU to try and pound them on the ground to set up the pass, much like what was expected with UNLV.

"They're a power team," said Nixon. "They're going to try and set up the passing play by running the ball with Bell and Johnson, so we're expecting them to be physical because of the type of backs they are. They've got kind of a good mix of between TCU or a UNLV and New Mexico. They've got the physicality of New Mexico, but they've also got some athleticism of TCU in some spots."

By the time the 6-foot, 225-pound Gartrell Johnson graduates from CSU this year, he could be listed among the top five running backs in CSU history. The same could be said for the 6-foot-2-inch, 234-pound Kyle Bell as well.

Helping the two bruisers pound the ball against opposing linebackers will be the already mentioned tight end Kory Sperry. According to a few Cougar defenders, Sperry is one of the top tight ends in the conference.

"[Sperry] is their stud tight end," Nixon said. "He's actually their premier tight end and has great hands. He can run downfield and open things up for them offensively."

"They use their tight ends to help block in the running game, and they do a really good job at it," Clawson said. "It's going to be a situation we haven't faced yet this year."

Although it's difficult to know to what extent the CSU offense is going to use the tight ends in the passing game, the Cougar defenders are expecting Sperry to be used as a weapon if the run has been established.

"He's one of the best in the conference, but was injured last year," Nixon said. "He's come back this year and is playing really well, but he mostly blocks for Johnson and Bell, and on occasion they'll send him downfield because he's a really good athlete."

On the opposite side of Sperry will be 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound tight end Eric Peitz. Peitz is only a sophomore but started in 10 games last year as a true freshman.

"I don't think they use [Peitz] as much in the passing game, but he is also someone they like to use a lot to help block in the run game," said Nixon. "So he'll be someone that we'll have to face on the outside and try to beat to the point of attack to beat the block."

In terms of offensive scheme, CSU does a variety of things similar to what the Cougars saw against UNLV and UNM. CSU doesn't use the option ride scheme, which is one of the primary schemes of the UNLV offense, but the Rams do like to spread the field out with similar wide receiver schemes.

"It's kind of hard to know what to expect," Clawson said. "I think it will be a combination of New Mexico and UNLV. I think they'll try and spread us out a little bit with the pass like UNLV did. At the same time we think they have a similar mentality of New Mexico because they have bigger power backs. New Mexico had Ferguson, and he was more of a power back, and we think CSU will have that type of mentality of being [a] hard-nosed, downhill-type running team.

"The coaches have been telling us that we should expect them to be similar to UNLV and New Mexico, so we're expecting a kind of a mix. I think they'll probably air out more than New Mexico but have a similar run style. They don't seem to try and stretch you out much by going to the outside, so much of what they do is really between the tackles trying to cut it upfield."

Although the Cougars have faced similar offensive schemes to what they're expecting from CSU, there is one aspect of the Ram offense that does seem a bit different from those other teams - yet similar to BYU's offense.

"They have a pretty good o-line, but the biggest thing is their tight ends," Nixon said. "Offensively I think they have a great system and think they may have simplified things from past years [which] has really helped them out this year, but they use their tight ends really well within the system both in the passing and blocking schemes.

Much like UNLV tested BYU's linebackers, Cougar fans should probably expect the same from the CSU offense. Cougar safety Kellen Fowler gives his perspective of CSU's offense and what to expect.


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