Head coach Jim McElwain dropped a bomb on CSU football fans Monday. Redshirt sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs might not play in Saturday’s game.
CSU’s bowl game dreams are riding solely on the game against Air Force after its loss over the weekend to Utah State, making Bibbs’ injury a factor of concern.
While McElwain has strived for balance with his team, building a solid passing game as well as run game, it’s obvious that Bibbs carries more weight than his teammates, at least in terms of points on the board.
Bibbs carried the ball 18 times for 54 yards and no scores against the Aggies’ No. 1 defense — his lowest totals since the Alabama game. But the Aggies defense did more than damage Bibbs’ impressive statistics – they handed him a debilitating injury.
WATCH: CSU Head Coach Jim McElwain announces Kapri Bibbs injury during Nov. 25 press conference
“Kapri Bibbs is probably out, he won’t practice,” McElwain said, only going into as much detail as to say it’s a lower-extremity injury.
Through it all, McElwain maintained his positive demeanor, layering confidence upon his team to step up and make the magic happen, with or without Bibbs in the backfield. With Donnell Alexander still returning from a shoulder injury, the work load will fall heavily across senior Chris Nowke’s shoulders.
“It being senior day, I’m excited for him to have that opportunity,” Mac said of Nwoke. “He’d love to go out and play his best game in a trophy game, a rivalry game – I think that’s pretty exciting.”
In the wake of Bibbs’ injury, McElwain knows he cannot let his team dwell on the negatives. For him, bowl hopes are still an attainable goal, just beyond the horizon. It’s a milestone he wants to coach his seniors across.
“The bowl experience itself, no one on our team even knows what that is,” he said. “It’s another part of the unknown. So really, for me, it has to do more with them experiencing it and the national hit that you get for being part of the bowl season.”
Other notable injuries:
LB Aaron Davis
LB Cory James
DL Joe Kawulok
“Very very very questionable, all four of them would do anything to get out there and play, but I’m not going to put anybody out there who isn’t ready,” McElwain said.
Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @c_rasta5.
ANALYSIS: No need to panic, Ram fans
By Quentin Sickafoose, Sports Editor
It’s understandable that the news about Bibbs’ injury has potential to make many Ram fans concerned, but it shouldn’t extend much further than speculation.
As of Monday, the only activity Bibbs is not partaking in is the first practice back from the 13-0 loss at Utah State, however McElwain has mentioned that Bibbs’ chances of playing are unlikely for Saturday’s game against Air Force.
The severity of the injury has yet to be determined or announced, but Bibbs was still actively playing a role in CSU’s matchup in Logan last weekend, carrying the ball 18 times through the course of the game, many of which occurred after the initial injury.
The biggest factor that needs to be considered is CSU’s quest to become bowl eligible for the first time in half of a decade is still alive. The first priority on the Rams’ plate should be reaching a bowl game, and the odds are in CSU’s favor despite possibly having to do it without the help of Bibbs. The only remaining obstacle standing in their way is one more victory over an Air Force team that has experienced its fair share of troubles in 2013.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Falcons are wearing a 2-9 record (0-7 Mountain West) on the season. Currently last in the Mountain division, and leading only Hawaii in the overall conference, the Falcons have yet to defeat a MW opponent.
The Rams should be able to pull an easy rout of Air Force without Bibbs by shifting more responsibility over to quarterback Garrett Grayson to carry the team via passing. Grayson has put up four three-touchdown performances this season, and has a good chance to tally another against a Falcon defense that has problems when the football is put in the air. Air Force surrenders an average of 252 passing yards every game — which the CSU offense is currently producing, and then some, with 267.
CSU also has options when it comes to the running game. With the exception of the Oct. 19 game at Wyoming, Chris Nwoke has seen action in all regular season matchups and should be able to step up in Bibb’s absence. Donnell Alexander has sat out the last two games but is the next possible player to fill the void over the weekend if he can be returned from his shoulder injury.
As long as Bibbs is able to have a speedy recovery, and bounce back to 100-percent by the possible bowl game, Colorado State will do just fine while he allows himself to heal on Saturday.
Video by Keith Albertson, CTV11
Sports Editor Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @QSickafoose.