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Preview: Colorado State football vs. Western Illinois

You can’t change the past — you can only learn from it and better yourself. That is exactly what Colorado State football has to do following their latest loss in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Colorado State football vs. Western Illinois

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The Rams will take on Western Illinois University on Saturday at Canvas Stadium. Look for CSU to come out strong in this game. Yes, CSU lost by 21 points in the Showdown, but don’t let that fool you. Offensively and defensively, the Rams looked like a team that can improve on 2018’s 3-9 record.

The Western Illinois Leathernecks are coming off a 17-26 loss against North Alabama on Saturday. The Leathernecks did not do much offensively, as their quarterback Connor Sampson threw for 183 yards, completed 18/30 passes and one interception.

Western Illinois finished with a record of 5-6 last season and has had to deal with losses at their key positions. Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders departed for the NFL at the end of last season, being drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Yet their defense will figure to be a strong suit for the team. Last season, the Leatherneck defense allowed only 328 yards per game and came up with 15 fumbles and 14 interceptions. 

For CSU, the Rams offense showed promise as quarterback Collin Hill threw for 374 yards, going 31/47 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. These are great numbers from a guy who has barely seen the field due to injury.

Hill looked comfortable in the pocket, airing out some deep throws throughout the game. One of his interceptions was from a deep throw to the end zone where the CU corner made a great play on the ball.

Colorado State University quarterback Collin Hill looking for an open receiver at the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Aug. 31. (Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

CSU’s receiving core, along with Hill, has that big-play ability that can stretch the defense out and break down their scheme. Warren Jackson’s longest reception was 29 yards. Dante Wright had a 39-yard touchdown reception and a 42-yard run to the end zone on fourth and 2. Running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. added a 31-yard reception as well.

CSU is projected to beat Western Illinois on Saturday in what should be a much-needed confidence booster for Coach Mike Bobo and the rest of the squad. However, Western Illinois and Illinois State are part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. In case you don’t remember remember, CSU was embarrassed by Illinois State last year by losing 35-19 at Canvas Stadium.

Football players, including Colorado State University linebacker Troy Golden (43), run towards the ball at Rocky Mountain Showdown on Aug. 31. (Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

Where CSU needs to improve based on the Showdown

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The biggest reason CSU lost in the Showdown was that they turned the ball over four times and were unable to cause any turnovers. CSU did not sack CU’s quarterback Steven Montez once, allowing him to feel comfortable and able to make plays. The Rams’ defense needs to apply more pressure on the QB and create some turnovers if they want to win.

WIU quarterback, Sampson, is in his first year as a starter. CSU will need to exploit his inexperience, as he’s only played a total of 10 games in the past two seasons. 

CSU showed great potential in their offensive attack, and if the defense improves, they will come out strong and ready to redeem themselves with a win on Saturday.

Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TMeguire.

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