Returning playmakers Boddie and Kinsey add versatility to CSU’s rushing attack

Eddie Herz

The offense has not been the issue for the Colorado State Rams this season through two games. But, if the defensive struggles continue, CSU will take all the offensive compensation it can get.

In the upcoming weekend, the Rams will be getting a boost to their run game as coach Mike Bobo announced on Monday that running backs Rashaad Boddie and Marvin Kinsey Jr. had their suspensions lifted after missing CSU’s first two games.

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Starting running back Izzy Matthews was effective as the main backup behind Dalyn Dawkins last season. But this season, Matthews has gotten off to a slow start. 

Without any help behind Matthews besides sophomore Marcus McElroy, the senior has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry this season. Last season, with more running backs in the mix, Matthews averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored eight times. 

Senior Izzy Mathews takes a rest in between drills during spring practice on April 4. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

CSU’s run game will embrace the depth and versatility that Boddie and Kinsey bring to the table, but, it may take some time for the running backs to earn the trust of their team back. After all, this was not the first time Boddie and Kinsey were suspended for violating team rules.

Boddie was suspended earlier in fall camp as well. Both Kinsey and Boddie also served a suspension during the first half of the New Mexico Bowl last season.

“It’s just earning trust from the players,” redshirt sophomore fullback Adam Prentice said. “I think that comes from them coming every day prepared to work and having perfect discipline on and off the field. That is how they are going to earn the respect back from us and this team… They are doing a good job since they’ve come back.”

In terms of privileges, Bobo believes that the running backs earned them back by diligently serving their suspensions.

“There are other things that they are doing off the field that are part of that suspension,” Bobo said. “We still love them when they come back. They’re part of the team and they’re ready to go. If you are back, you are back. The best guy is going to play. You’ve handled your suspension, you’ve handled your discipline.”

Aside from depth, the two running backs introduce a different dynamic to CSU’s rushing attack as both Matthews and McElroy are similar “ground and pound” type running backs while Boddie and Kinsey have far different skills to offer.

“Boddie is just a pure tough back,” Matthews said. “A big dude that runs hard. He gets his pads down and can run anybody over.”

At the same time, Boddie also provides speed. Prentice even compared Boddie to 13-year NFL running back and two-time Pro-Bowl selection Herschel Walker.

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Colorado State Running Back Rashaad Boddie runs down the field during the forth quarter of play against the Boise State Broncos on Nov. 11. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

Boddie showcased his talents by putting together a productive true freshman season in 2016 where the sophomore scored four touchdowns and collected 254 yards on 44 carries.

Even though he could not practice while suspended, Bobo noted that Boddie has not missed a beat since returning to the field. In fact, he hit the ground running.

“I thought Rashaad Boddie had the best practice he’s ever had since he’s been here yesterday,” Bobo said on Tuesday.

On the other end, Kinsey specializes in speed and makes defenders pay when he finds open space.

The junior struggled to bounce back last season after suffering a season-ending torn ACL as a freshman in 2016. But, like Boddie, Kinsey showed what he was capable of as a true freshman.

Kinsey rushed for 546 yards and seven touchdowns on nearly 100 carries in 2016. With the quickness Kinsey possesses, eclipsing his single-game high of 127 yards this season is more than a possibility.

Prentice described Kinsey as “extremely elusive” while Matthews went even further in illustrating the running back’s swiftness.

“Marvin (Kinsey) is probably the most explosive player that we have as far as speed,” Matthews said. “If you give him some open space, there is nothing you can do to stop him.”

CSU Freshman Running Back Marvin Kinsey Jr. (25) celebrates a touchdown with the offensive line during the Rams win over Fresno State. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

With the return of Boddie and Kinsey, the Rams have different players to fulfill different needs on the ground.

Boddie and Kinsey are also bigger playmakers than Matthews and McElroy. So, CSU’s big-play potential on the ground has increased as well.

What having more options in the backfield also helps is the production of Matthews. As mentioned earlier, the balanced running back was significantly more effective last season when his carries were split at a greater rate.

“Basically having that veteran experience coming back and having four guys now that can carry a load instead of splitting between two guys is big,” Matthews said. “I’ve been taking a lot of snaps. It’s going to be better for our bodies and better for our team’s pace and explosiveness.”

While Bobo and CSU players are thrilled to have the two running backs eligible again, Boddie and Kinsey have portrayed their eagerness personally.  

“They are just two guys who love the game of football and have been waiting for this Saturday,” Matthews said. “They keep tweeting about it, posting about it. You can just tell that they are genuinely excited.”

Their first chance this year comes against Arkansas on Saturday. 

Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.