The season may not have ended the way most, really anyone, predicted, but Colorado State has a lot of positives to take from their 2016 campaign.
After going 1-2 in the previous three bowl games, CSU was unable to avoid a third straight bowl game loss and fell to the Idaho Vandals 61-50 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Potato Bowl loss brings an official end to the Colorado State 2016 football schedule, and with it many takeaways from the season.
It began with a 44-7 embarrassment at the hands of Colorado, which led to plethora of quarterback changes, then we began to see the likes of Michael Gallup, Detrich Clark and other new faces make an impact, and finally we said goodbye to CSU’s home since 1963.
Forget about the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. CSU didn’t show up, but that is not indicative of their season as a whole. Move on to 2017.
Heading into next season, here are some things to keep an eye on:
Nick Stevens got the keys to the offense to open up the season and drove it straight into a ditch. Faton Bauta was then given his turn behind the wheel and stalled the car. Then freshman Collin Hill earned his shot, got things moving, and looked like he was poised to finish things out and move into his sophomore season with a years worth of experience already under his belt.
That didn’t quite happen, as a torn ACL put an end to Hill’s season in week six. Enter Nick Stevens, again, and a communal sigh from the CSU faithful. Quickly, however, that sigh turned into cheers and an offense that looked unstoppable the last five weeks of the regular season.
With Bauta no longer in the equation, it begs the question whether head coach Mike Bobo should stay with Stevens at quarterback or go back to Hill. All signs point to another quarterback battle to start the 2017 season.
While hill may be slow coming back from a torn ACL, gear up for Stevens versus Hill round two.
In the last five games of the regular season the Colorado State offense averaged 48 points per game. Assuming everyone that is eligible to come back does, CSU will return its top three leading rushers in Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey, two of their top three receivers in Gallup and Bisi Johnson, not to mention playmakers like Detrich Clark and Anthony Hawkins who began to spark as the season went along.
The offensive line will look a little different, with seniors Fred Zerblis, Paul Thurston and Nick Callender moving on from the program, however center Jake Bennett still holds eligibility should he choose to return for a final season and anchor the offensive line.
Regardless of who will be under center come 2017, Colorado State should, barring any unforeseen changes, have one of the most prolific offenses in the Mountain West.
On the defensive side of things, Colroado State will lose seniors in linebacker Kevin Davis and Bryan Ohene-Gyeni, cornerbacks Tyree Simmons and Jordon Vaden and defensive lineman Johnny Schupp.
With so much of the defense returning, a young group that improved steadily throughout the season and has a full year under defensive coordinator Marty English should be able to make strides heading into next season.
The New Stadium
Next season will be the time to see just how dedicated CSU fans are.
Hughes Stadium is gone, and there is a shiny 41,000 capacity stadium waiting to be filled with green platted fans stumbling in chanting “I’m proud, to be, a CSU Ram.”
The stadium has come with its fair share of opposition, but none of that really matters at this point. Will the new stadium suddenly make CSU a Power 5 contender? No, it won’t. But what the on-campus stadium will do is offer Colorado State a chance to create something special, a chance to create tradition that will not only benefit the football program, but also the entire University.
The on-campus stadium will be the new home for CSU football. Ram fans have a chance to make that home something special.
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman