at Invesco Field, Denver • Sept. 9 • 3 p.m. (MT) • OLN-TV
Head Coach: Sonny Lubick (14th season)
2006 Record: 1-0
The Ram racked up 361 yards of offense, 24 first downs and four rushing touchdowns in their opening day 30-6 win over Division I-AA Weber State. Despite the four rushing touchdowns, CSU struggled a bit in the running games. Starter Gartrell Johnson had just 38 yards on 18 carries. CSU's strength — especially after losing RB Kyle Bell for the season with a knee injury — is at receiver, where five to six players could be getting the ball from quarterback Caleb Hanie.
Player to Watch: Junior H-back Kory Sperry has next-level talent, and at 6-6, 250 pounds, presents matchup problems for most opponents.
CSU struggled defensively last season. Holding Weber State to just 6 points was a shot of confidence for the unit. They'll get a truer test Saturday vs. the Buffs, however. The Rams will play physical football at Invesco, and what was a young group has begun to mature. Ben Stratton has returned to action after losing last season to injury, and gives CSU depth at safety. Luke Adkins and Jeff Jeff Horinek are veterans at linebacker.
Player to Watch: Junior DE Jesse Nading has two years of starting under his belt, and after earning honorable-mention all-MWC in 2005, is coming into his own.
Punter Jimmie Kaylor could contend for Ray Guy consideration. Johnny Walker is a good punt returner, while Damon Morton had a 48 yard KOR vs. Weber State. Fellow KOR specialist Robert Herbert (also a DB) was dismissed from the team along with two other players after being charged with two counts of felony theft earlier this week.
CSU 2006 Statistical Leaders (returners)
PASSING: Caleb Hanie 15-22-212 0 TD, 1 INT
RUSHING: Nnamdi Ohaeri 3-39/13.0
RECEIVING: Damon Morton 6-67
TACKLES: Mike Pagnotta 5
SACKS: Matt Rupp 2
INT: none PUNTING: Jimmie Kaylor 2-85/42.5
Prediction: The Buffs defense will have a better showing against CSU's offense, which is more conventional than Montana State's. But CU's offense needs a lot of things to go right most of the time to generate points. Until we've seen them do that, it's difficult to imagine it happening.