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Preventing the explosive play is key in stopping CU

During this year’s installment of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, Colorado State’s defense will be tasked with one of the most explosive offenses on its schedule.

The Colorado Buffaloes are no stranger to putting up points against their northern rivals and will be looking to do so again. Last season, the Buffs scored 44 points in a blowout victory over the Rams. What’s more, many of those playmakers are back on an offense led by Phillip Lindsay.

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The senior running back stands just 5-feet-8-inches tall. But the tenacity with which he plays the game has made him one of the leaders on a very talented football team. CSU head coach Mike Bobo recognizes what Lindsay means to the Buffs.

“Phillip Lindsay is like the heart and soul of their football team,” Bobo said. “He plays with toughness, he plays with a swagger, some attitude…He’s muscled up, he hits the hole physical and runs with power, runs with speed and runs with vision…This guy has a passion to play the game, he’s got a fire. He’s their guy on offense to me. They play with that chip on their shoulder that he plays with.”

The Rams can’t focus their attention solely on stopping Lindsay, though. CU returns what Athlon Sports deems the third best receiving group in all of college football. Led by Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross, the Buffs bring back their six leading receivers from a year ago. 

Mike Bobo calls out a play during the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown. (Collegian| Javon Harris)

The combination of rushing and receiving ability makes game planning against CU a difficult task. Both units can convert on explosive plays that change the game in an instant.  

“The first thing that jumps off the film to me is how explosive they are on offense,” Bobo said. “They’ve got a number of receivers that can hurt you in a variety of ways. They’ve got speed, they’ve got great ball skills, they block for each other in the RPO (run-pass option).”

CSU was victim to the explosive play in the opening victory over Oregon State. They allowed a 39-yard touchdown pass and 75-yard touchdown run to the Beavers in what was a closely contested first half.

If one were to take out the long run, the Rams allowed just 89 yards rushing in what would be considered a very productive effort. But Bobo realizes that it’s those very plays that can flip the script of an entire game.

“Sometimes we like to say ‘hey we played pretty good defense except for those explosive plays,’” Bobo said. “But those explosive plays count. We’ve got to do a better job of getting guys on the ground.”

The Rams are ready to move on from last year’s performance in the RMS. Throughout this week of preparation, players and coaches alike have been focused on moving forward rather than looking back.

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Though he’s only been here three years, Bobo understands CU’s previous success, including a national championship in 1990 and most recently a PAC-12 division title in 2016, makes the Buffs nationally relevant. Looking to win his first RMS, Bobo is excited for the opportunity to put CSU on the same national stage as their rivals.

“There’s a lot of prestige in the perception of Colorado, and Colorado State wants to be on that level,” Bobo said. “It’s a little bit of us trying to prove that we belong on that stage.”

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

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