Maturity allows CSU offense to improvise weekly

Colin Barnard

As Colorado State prepares for its first conference game of 2017, focus shifts to what head coach Mike Bobo refers to as season two. 

Wide Receiver Olabisi Johnson makes a catch over an Abilene Christian defender on Sept 8. The Rams defeated the Wildcats 38-10. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
Wide Receiver Olabisi Johnson makes a catch over an Abilene Christian defender on Sept 8. The Rams defeated the Wildcats 38-10. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

The Rams will begin eight consecutive weeks of conference play on Saturday with a road matchup against Hawaii. For the offensive unit, the beginning of the conference slate offers an opportunity to improve on an already impressive season.

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Aside from a 3-point showing against Colorado, the offense has produced at an efficient rate throughout 2017, scoring 58, 38 and 23 points. What’s more, they have moved the ball effectively each game, ranking second in the conference in yards per game.

Though the total offensive production through four games is largely encouraging, wide receiver Olabisi Johnson understands the potential for growth.

“There’s always room to improve,” Johnson said. “We can get better at all aspects. Whether it’s in the line, in the running-game, in the passing-game, we want to be the greatest in the nation. So there’s always room for improvement.”

One thing Bobo stressed with the offense is the ability to improvise on a weekly basis. As a defense’s game plan changes, so does the Rams’ offense. Even certain plays that the team ran in its last game against Alabama will change based on scheme.

Relearning plays and preparing every week can be taxing on an offense. However, the maturity and seniority on offense lessens some of that pressure. The Rams boast eight senior starters on offense, something that Bobo believes is invaluable in handling changes every week.

“We’ve got a mature offensive football team,” Bobo said. “A senior quarterback who understands what he’s got to do to prepare. We’ve got a senior center that has been in the system for three years. So when you have change week-to-week or during a game, he can handle that.”

The first four games allowed CSU to learn its strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps the most encouraging part of non-conference play revealed itself when the Rams refused to fold in the face of adversity on multiple occasions. By continuing to compete, Johnson noticed an increase in confidence on the offensive unit.

“We figured out a lot about ourselves,” Johnson said. “When we played Alabama, we came out maybe a little timid in the first quarter, but then we figured it out. We figured out that we can play with the best team in the nation. I think that gave us a lot of confidence, and it will give us confidence in the games to come.”

Regardless of the changes facing the Rams’ offense entering conference play, overall success still comes down to the same basic fundamentals.

“To get to where we’ve got a chance to perform at a high level week in and week out, you’ve got to lock in every week,” Bobo said. “You’ve got to prepare, you’ve got to practice, and you’ve got to go execute on Saturday.”

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