The Colorado State Rams released the team’s first depth chart of the season during Monday’s game week press conference. There was plenty of reaction to the first copy of the depth chart, especially at the quarterback position.
As it stands right now, CSU has three possible starting quarterbacks. Faton Bauta, Nick Stevens, and Collin Hill were all listed as could be starters for Friday’s game.
By game time, the starter will be revealed.
“I feel very confident with all three guys that you could go out and be productive offensively with them,” coach Mike Bobo said. “I just feel better with one at this time.”
Bobo has known his starter for days now but said on Monday that he is just not releasing it publicly in order to make life a little bit harder for Colorado defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt.
On Tuesday, Bobo said that he would rotate players frequently across the field to keep players fresh, and due to inexperience, he would play players in specific scenarios based on their grasp of the offense.
It’s a flexible depth chart.
Dalyn Dawkins was listed as the starter at running back, but second stringer Izzy Matthews and Freshman Marvin Kinsey will all see significant action against the Buffaloes.
Marcus Wilson, Olabisi Johnson and Sammie Long fill out the first group of wide receivers. Xavier Williams, Michael Gallup, Robert Ruiz, and Dietrich Clark should also figure into the passing game.
Wilson, the number one slot receiver, quickly moved his way into the starting lineup after converting from the defensive backfield during spring practice.
“He’s a smart guy, he’s improved so much. He has some football savvy to him,” offensive coordinator Will Friend said. “He’s physical, probably playing some defensive back helped him be a little bit more of a physical player.”
Nolan Peralta and Danny Nwosu will be the primary tight ends in the base offense, while juco transfer Dalton Fackrell will likely see action in passing situations.
The Rams front five will consist of left tackle Nick Callender, left guard Paul Thurston, center Jake Bennett, right guard Fred Zerblis, and right tackle Zach Golditch.
The team has kept the competition open along the front line for much of fall camp. Colby Meeks and Trae Moxley are two players who could see some playing time throughout the season in a reserve role, but the five players above solidified themselves as the best unit.
Josh Lovingood, Jakob Buys, and Darnell Thompson worked as the first group for most of fall camp and enter the season as the three starting defensive lineman. Johnny Schupp, Toby McBride, O’Shea Jackson, and Colton Foster are the next guys up along the line. Freshman defensive lineman Christian Colon was not listed on the depth chart. Bobo called it an error with the chart and that Colon will dress is expected to play.
Defensive coordinator Marty English said that he will move his guys around a lot of the time in order to keep players fresh, which means some players might at multiple spots.
“(We are) deep enough that we have to roll guys through for sure,” English said. “With that, the depth we are having to come up with is not everybody in their normal positions.”
Josh Watson and Kevin Davis take over on the inside of the field in the absence of middle linebacker Deonte Clyburn. Tre’ Thomas will start in the base defense as the “sam” linebacker, while Kiel Robinson will play a major role in the defense during passing situations as the nickel middle linebacker.
Redshirt Junior Evan Colorito is the number one “buck” or outside linebacker, but Bryan Ohene-Gyeni could see some pass rush work when called on.
With CU’s experience at the quarterback, tight end and receiver positions, the CSU secondary will be tested heavily in the first game of the season.
Special teams standout Jake Schlager takes over the starting strong safety position. Braylin Scott and Justin Sweet battled for the other safety spot during camp, but Sweet looks to have won that battle. Scott will still see plenty of playing time as the number one nickel cornerback.
Tyree Simmons was the clear-cut starting cornerback returning for this team, and he is joined by converted wide receiver Jordon Vaden who will start the game at the opposite corner spot. Vaden battled with Kevin Nutt Jr. throughout camp, but Bobo said the senior took back over the position last week and has not relinquished it.
Dawkins, the starting running back, will also be returning kickoffs during Friday’s game, while redshirt senior receiver Robert Ruiz is tasked with replacing Joe Hansley as the punt returner.
“That’s what Dalyn does,” Bobo said. “He’s gonna see the hole and then he’s gonna hit the hole full speed. There’s no dancing in kickoff return.”
Bobo added that he picked Ruiz because of his reliability with ball security, as well as his toughness and small-field quickness from working in the slot-receiver role.
An improved Wyatt Bryan returns as the field goal kicker, and will also handle the kickoffs on Friday.
There was no surprise at the punter position. Hayden Hunt’s the guy there.
Collegian Sports Reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5