When it came to the rushing attack, there was plenty to go around for the Colorado State running back unit in Saturday’s victory over Oregon State.
With numerous reliable options, head coach Mike Bobo showed no hesitation in getting all of his capable running backs involved.
In fact, all four CSU backs that saw action yesterday carried the ball at least nine times. As was the case often last season, the Ram backs were efficient with their touches. Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews, Rashaad Boddie and Marvin Kinsey Jr. combined for 185 rushing yards and three scores on the ground. Each had at least one rush of nine or more yards against the Beavers as well.
“I think we saw some really good stuff from the backs,” redshirt senior quarterback Nick Stevens told the media following Saturday’s victory.
It comes as no surprise that Dawkins paved the way for the group of running backs. After all, Dawkins was the ninth leading rusher in the Mountain West last season. Dawkins continued that trend on Saturday, leading all CSU ballcarriers with 15 attempts for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Along with being a factor in the rushing attack, Dawkins scored a receiving touchdown for only the third time in his collegiate career. The play came early in the second quarter, when Dawkins took a red zone screen pass 18 yards to the end zone to put the Rams up by four (14-10).
“I always want to make sure I can do it all,” Dawkins said. “I feel like that’s important, being a complete back.”
Though Dawkins totaled the most yardage on the ground for CSU, redshirt freshman Rashaad Boddie displayed his potential in his collegiate debut.
“I’ve been talking about Rashaad a lot throughout camp,” Bobo said. “He has power, he has speed. He’s a guy that didn’t play last year so it was good to get him in there and get confidence. He showed his power today. He showed his ability to break tackles.”
Boddie made the most of his eight carries, as the 225-pound back collected 56 yards on the ground. Boddie’s average of seven yards per carry was the most from any Rams running back in the victory.
Junior Izzy Matthews dinged up his shoulder against the Beavers. Dawkins left the game with some bumps and bruises as well. With the starters not feeling 100 percent in the second half, Boddie saw a higher volume of carries and was able to take advantage.
“Boddie had to get a lot of those carries because those guys were down,” Bobo said. “It was good to get him in there. Today he went a long way to earning more carries next week.”
Of the group, Kinsey saw the smallest work load, but according to Bobo, simply playing the game at all was big for his confidence. After rushing for 546 yards through 11 games in his freshman season (2016), Kinsey was forced to sit out during CSU’s bowl game due to a torn ACL in practice.
Kinsey rehabbed his knee throughout the offseason and was healthy enough for the season opener. In his sophomore debut, Kinsey rushed for 34 yards on eight carries against Oregon State. He also added a four-yard touchdown to help secure the victory in the fourth quarter.
“He (Kinsey) looked a little rusty, but it was good to get him some confidence,” Bobo said. “It was a complete effort.”
Before sitting out the majority of the second half, Matthews did what Matthews does best: find the end zone. The junior led the Rams in 2016 with 13 rushing downs and once again got off to a fast start in 2017, scoring the Rams’ first touchdown in the new stadium.
Matthews finished the day with nine carries for 28 yards and one rushing touchdown. Going back to last season, Matthews has now scored in nine consecutive games for the Rams and has crossed the goal line 19 times in his career.
The entirety of the Rams’ running backs head into a week two matchup with CU on a positive note. The unit strengthened throughout the game. After combining for 84 yards on the ground in the opening 30 minutes, the four running backs rushed for 107 yards in the second half.
A major contributor to the improved second half was the Rams’ offensive line stepping up.
“I thought we settled in,” Bobo said. “I was just proud of the offensive line for being able to protect. But also being able to run the ball in the second half. If you’re going to be a good, to a great, to a championship football team you have to run the ball when they know you’re going to run it. And we were able to do that in the second half.”
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Eddie_Herz.