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Depth, versatility will continue to play key role in CSU’s success

While Colorado State’s starters proved their talent throughout Saturday’s 58-27 beatdown of Oregon State, the team’s depth and versatility played just as big of a factor. Especially on the offensive side of the ball, the Rams utilized second and third units throughout the day. In doing so, starters were able to rest, and the team did not lose any productivity when various players went out with injuries.

Of all the position groups,  depth aided CSU most significantly on the offensive line. Before the game, the depth chart was littered with possibilities up front. 

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CSU offensive lineman Jeff Taylor celebrates the team's victory with fans after crushing Oregon State 58-27.
Offensive lineman Jeff Taylor celebrates the team’s victory with fans after crushing Oregon State 58-27. (Davis Bonner | Collegian

Head coach Mike Bobo deployed a three-tackle rotation throughout the contest, using Zack Golditch, Ben Knox and Trae Moxley at the tackle positions. Moxley also played inside at guard with Nicho Garcia, Jeff Taylor and Colby Meeks rounding out the position group. When Knox went down with a leg injury, Bobo had plenty of options to plug into his role. 

While the big uglies benefitted most from depth Saturday, four different ballcarriers received touches in the victory as well. When starters Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews were each “dinged up”, Rashaad Boddie and Marvin Kinsey Jr. provided a seamless transition for the CSU offense.

Boddie finished the game with eight carries for 56 yards, despite the bulk of his carries coming in the second half. Playing in his first game since tearing his ACL last winter, Kinsey also added eight carries for 35 yards and one touchdown. 

On the outside, redshirt junior Trey Smith made his presence felt in the receiving corps while both Dalton Fackrell and Cameron Butler were productive at tight end. Senior wide receiver Michael Gallup led all pass-catchers in receptions (11) and receiving yards (134), but Smith and the tight ends made their presence felt as well. 

Fackrell finished the game with a modest two receptions for 28 yards, but the Utah native displayed his athleticism by making a difficult catch in the open field. Butler also finished the game with two receptions, totaling 27 receiving yards in the process. Both of Butler’s grabs could make the highlight reel though, as he trucked an OSU defender for a first down with his first career reception and later scored his first collegiate touchdown. 

When the Rams travel to Denver to play Colorado in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown on Friday Sept. 1, head coach Mike Bobo hopes to employ a similar strategy as he did in the victory over the Beavers. Especially within the offensive line, where the Rams will likely be missing last Saturday’s starting right tackle, Ben Knox. 

Though Knox is considered doubtful for the game, the ability to plug and play certain players on the line should ease his absence. One caveat is that Bobo wants to allow his linemen to play on one side of the line.

“You’d like to have guys settle into a role, where they’re playing one side or the other,” Bobo said Monday. “You’d like to have depth where you rotate guys in there. You don’t like flipping guys as much from left to right, so we’re keeping Moxley on the left side where he’s left guard or left tackle. At the end of the day, you’re going to have injuries. You’re going to have people go down, people get hurt, so you better be able to do it all.”

Bobo acknowledged that he liked playing Moxley and Golditch on the same side. When Golditch played left tackle and Moxley played left guard, the Rams were able to run the ball most effectively. While veterans like Golditch can handle playing both sides of the line, Bobo hopes letting players settle into a role will reduce some of the errors on the line moving forward. 

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Dalyn Dawkins scores a touchdown
Senior running back Dalyn Dawkins beats an Oregon State defender around the edge for his first rushing touchdown in the on-campus stadium.
(Jack Starkebaum | Collegian)

“We had some busts and errors,” Bobo said. “We had some mental errors, and probably some of that is because (we changed) those guys around, but we wanted to play more guys because it was hot. I think that showed in the fourth quarter, we were able to finish the game.” 

While it is probable that Knox will miss matchup with CU, running backs Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews escaped week one with only minor bumps and bruises and are expected to play. Given the physicality of the position, having multiple options at running back is a must for Bobo and the Rams.

“You like having fresh guys, and it’s a physical game,” Bobo said. “Our guys kept hitting it up in there. It was good to have more than two because our guys got a little banged up.”

Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.

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