The Colorado State offense is young and consists of almost an entirely new set of skill position players.
Heading into the season they felt comfortable with the offense, as most players have been around it for at least a year. In their first test against the University of Colorado, it was apparent that the group is not where they thought they were.
With Rashard Higgins, Joe Hansley, Kivon Cartwright, Steven Walker and Jasen Oden Jr. all moved on from the program, a chunk of offense that the Rams had in 2015 is no longer there in 2016.
That group totaled 135 receptions, 1,991 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015, and 764 yards and six touchdowns from Oden on the ground.
While head coach Mike Bobo does not want to make any excuses for what happened in the season opener, he does feel that some of the offensive struggles his team had are due to the fact that those guys are simply not there anymore, and this new group hasn’t quite gotten up to speed.
“The timing is not there for the receivers and the quarterbacks yet. (It’s not) Where it needs to be to play the offense that I expect to play,” Bobo said. “Now, we’ve got to figure out what we can do to play well enough to win the ball game. But we are not at the level we need to be at to execute at a high level of throwing the ball right now.”
Sophomores Olabisi Johnson and Marcus Wilson, alongside juniors Michael Gallup and Sammie Long are now in the rotation. Redshirt junior Xavier Williams is expected to be an impact player at wide receiver but is suspended until week-three for violating team rules.
Gallup led the group in week-one with four catches for 38 yards, but the group struggled as whole alongside the rest of the offense.
Bobo said that the offense will look better in week-two, but the group still has a lot of work to do.
“We’re a long way off. When we got 15 yards in the first quarter (against Colorado), we got 200 yards total offense; we’re a long way off,” Bobo said. “But the good news is we got a lot of room for improvement. We’ll see some improvement this week. It will not be astronomical, but hopefully we improve enough that puts us in a position to win the ball game.”
The offense totaled just 12 first downs and 225 yards of total offense in week one. With a week-two matchup against UTSA coming, the offense will make the changes necessary to gather some momentum, according to offensive coordinator Will Friend.
“We’ve gotta put guys in there and we’ve gotta develop some competition to push people to see the importance of being at your best always,” Friend said. “Trae Moxley, he’ll start at left tackle this week. We didn’t play very good at the offensive tackle position and Trae played the last half of the game and things started going better when Trae got in the game. We’ll learn to compete and that being a starter means something or somebody else will be it.”
Friend is looking for anyone who will create a spark. Momentum is a must on the football field and the Rams had none of it in week one. That has been the focus all week. Start with one, and then move onto the next.
“It’s hard to get that rhythm going and get that momentum going when you’re going three-and-out. And then the frustration builds in, nobody is making a play, so it’s tough to get that,” Friend said. “We put no stress on them, I mean it’s three plays and they’re running off the field and we’re not getting a first down to make them change anything or getting a first down to make those guys stay on the field longer and make them have to play defense longer. Things were a lot tougher because we couldn’t get that going and all it takes is one, a lot of times…and we could never get that. That has a lot to do with CU and a lot to do with us.”
Put an emphasis on the “us.”
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman