Three things will lead CSU to a homecoming win over the Lobos

Eddie Herz

The Colorado State Rams return to Canvas Stadium Saturday to face the 3-2 University of New Mexico Lobos after escaping from San Jose State University with its second win of the season.

The Lobos currently stand as one-point favorites over the Rams, implying the game could go either way.

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With victories being extremely hard to come by for the Rams this season, beating the Lobos is vital to the Rams’ odds of salvaging the season. After their homecoming matchup, the team will travel to face Boise State University, whom it has never beaten.

Ahead is a glance at CSU’s focal points for victory on Saturday.

Stick with K.J. Carta-Samuels.

Coach Mike Bobo’s quarterback management has been poor this season to say the least.

Complaints from fans about unexpectedly swapping Carta-Samuels for redshirt sophomore Collin Hill have increased due to the fact that Carta-Samuels’ level of play has not warranted punishment.

Regardless if the University of Washington transfer initiates immediate success against the Lobos, it is important for Bobo to stick with Carta-Samuels no matter what.

men play football
Collin Hill sits in the end zone and looks at the referee after attempting a two point conversion during the CSU vs. Illinois State game on Sept. 22. The Rams lost 19-35. (Matt Begeman | Collegian)

Hill has yet to positively impact the Rams’ offense despite earning snaps in each of CSU’s last five games. The quarterback has completed only 13-34 passes and has thrown for 153 yards and a lone touchdown with an interception to match.

Even if Carta-Samuels is playing poorly against the Lobos, there is an insignificant chance that Hill will be able to spark the offense and play better.

No matter how Carta-Samuels is performing, pulling him for Hill eliminates any opportunity CSU has of effectively moving the ball on Saturday.

Let him play, Bobo.

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Force Lobos’ Quarterback Sheriron Jones Out of His Comfort Zone.

Even though the Lobos’ strength of schedule through five games is laughable compared to Colorado State’s, the Lobos seem content with a 3-2 start.

Within their three victories, and even in a loss to Liberty University, they played a high-scoring offensive role.

The Lobos have scored at least 42 points in four games and rank 17th in the FBS with an average of 42.2 points per game. Their firepower is reliant on University of Tennessee transfer Sheriron Jones’ level of play under center.

Jones is coming off the best game of his career in which the junior threw for 250 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in a blowout 50-14 victory over the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Emmanuel Jones celebrates a huge sack
Emmanuel Jones celebrates a huge sack during the fourth quarter causing the Razorbacks to punt. Leading to the rams tying touchdown. (Joe Oakman | Collegian)

Jones proved last week what he is capable of when feeling good. But, Jones is prone to getting erratic through the air and making poor decisions when pressured.

In their fourth game of the season, Jones threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns, but also tossed three interceptions. The result of that game was an embarrassing defeat to FCS-opponent Liberty University.

Overall, Jones has thrown 10 touchdowns and six interceptions this season while completing 58.8 percent of his passes.

Jones’ performance heavily impacts the outcome of the game. If CSU defenders can force the issue early and smother Jones with their pass rush, there is a likely chance he will lose his confidence.

A confidence-less Jones induces turnovers, something the Rams would embrace.

Keep the Izzy Matthews’ Train Rolling

Before last week, CSU’s senior running back Izzy Matthews had nothing positive to build upon.

Matthews rushed for 30 yards or less in three of the Rams’ first five games. As a result, the Rams’ rushing attack was non-existent.

For the first time this year, the back broke loose and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown against SJSU last week.

The total rushing yards from Matthews against the Spartans were the most he has accumulated in a game since collecting 140 against Fresno State back in 2015. The performance is more encouraging considering Matthews averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

Izzy Matthews dives into the end zone
Izzy Matthews dives into the end zone to get the go ahead touchdown with :08 seconds left in the game roasting the hogs. (Joe Oakman | Collegian)

Onlookers witnessed how much more dangerous the Rams’ offense can be when the run game is established. The unit put up 42 points against the hosts, the most in a game since playing the Spartans in November last season.

The Lobos defense can be exploited in a number of ways, whether the pass or run. But, the Lobos’ weakness is allowing 183.8 rushing yards per game.

Matthews is capable of once again bursting through holes at a high rate on Saturday, in turn, helping the Rams’ offense overall.  

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