CSU offense struggles as defense shines in opening scrimmage

Luke Zahlmann

After a year in which a high-flying offense was unable to make up for a suspect defense, the tides have shifted through the first scrimmage for Colorado State football as their defensive stoppers stole the show on Sunday.

A first half dominated by the defense and their exorbitant energy, with an offense in shambles, the Rams produced four turnovers in the opening half alone. The trio of quarterbacks for CSU were unable to separate themselves from the pack, as they failed to truly take the lead role.

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“We need somebody to take charge of the offense,” coach Mike Bobo said. “That’s gotta come from the quarterback position. I thought all three had some bright spots.”

Highlighted by a scoop and score by Richard King as well as an interception by Anthony Hawkins, the defense led the way through ball hawking.

A year after converting to corner, Hawkins appears to be embracing his role and beginning to excel early on in spring practice for the Rams’ defense.

“First time in a while we’ve had that kind of energy on defense,” Bobo said. “The offense kind of (got) smacked around and kind of went into a shell, didn’t realize we’ve gotta go back out and pull the ball down and try to execute the next series.”

The trend is one that Bobo says has been present in many of springs throughout his career. The defense, though running bland schemes, was able to penetrate early and often with King being the main benefactor.

A bright spot on the offensive side, the Rams’ stable of running backs showed their might. With a bullying running style, each of the Rams’ four main backs found success, including returning stalwart Izzy Matthews. Matthews accounted for nearly 100 total yards with his lone touchdown coming through the air. Rashaad Boddie led the stable with 88 yards on 18 carries, as well as a touchdown.

“Our running backs ran extremely hard,” Bobo said. “Darius May, Izzy, Marvin, Rashaad Boddie, all four of those guys ran extremely hard. They’re gonna bring a physicality to our offense.”

Miscommunication up front and a limited effectiveness blocking outside hindered the offense as a whole with early-season bugs being brought to light in game action. The line allowed a total of five sacks on the afternoon.

On the defensive side, Tre Thomas led the team in tackles with 14, with fellow lineback Josh Watson not far behind with 13 on the day.

The Rams’ next scrimmage will take place next Sunday as they look to push forward on the offensive side of the ball while keeping their momentum rolling on the defensive side.

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Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.