Colorado - Colorado State Q&A, Discussion With Mountain West Connection

The Ralphie Report sat down with the fine Mountain West blog on SBNation, MWCConnection, to discuss Colorado State and quarterback Pete Thomas heading into tomorrow's game.

You can check out our answers to Jeremy's questions here.

The Ralphie Report How has QB Pete Thomas progressed since his first start against Colorado a year ago? How has his game developed and does he have the talent around him to be successful?

The Ralphie Report Thomas is actually allowed to throw the ball down field. Last year, Thomas was restricted to a lot screen passes and three-step drops to unload the ball quickly. So far in two games he is allowed a lot more freedom where Thomas has shown what he can do. He is completing over 75 percent of his passes, but he tends to force some throws and has two interceptions on the year. Two of those coming against Northern Colorado. The running game is better which will help keep defenses honest, but none of the receivers have truly stood out in two games this year. Thomas seems to find the open man and get them the ball.

The Ralphie Report With top defender LB Mychal Sisson out for an extended time period, who are the Rams counting on to step up and be their playmaker on the defensive side of the ball?

The Ralphie Report Defensive tackle Nordly Capi is a defensive player to watch out for. He had a huge game against New Mexico where he had seven tackles, 4.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and forced four fumbles. In the Northern Colorado game he had a sack, tackle for loss and broke up a pass.

The Ralphie Report The Buffs have potentially two starters out of the offensive line, how strong is the CSU defensive line and who can get to the quarterback?

The Ralphie Report Again, I will go with Capi who has 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in only two games on the year. No other player has more than one sack, but linebacker Mike Orakpo is a player who has potential to make some noise after having a fairly solid freshman year. He has the pedigree since his brother plays in the NFL and so far this year he had 18 tackles, but has only two tackles for loss.

The Ralphie Report How hot is head coach Steve Fairchild's seat this year? Does he have to go to a bowl game to keep his job?

The Ralphie Report It is fairly hot with only three wins each of the past two years after his first season of making to and winning the New Mexico Bowl in 2008. I don't necessarily think making a bowl game is the bare minimum for Fairchild to keep his job. If he can get to at least five wins he should be fine. That shows improvement, plus I think they will allow him to coach Pete Thomas in his junior year and I am thinking 2012 is a make or break year if the Rams do not make a bowl game this year. For the record I do think the Rams will make a bowl game this year and if things go really well could have eight wins.

The Ralphie Report Sitting from a far, we are having a hard time evaluating the Rams due to their first two opponents. Against New Mexico, they were trailing until the fourth quarter and the offense didn't put a lot on the board. Is this team better than they were a year ago?

The Ralphie Report I agree it is tough to tell how good the Rams are due to their first two games, but I think they are a little better than last year. Pete Thomas is more accurate this year and the coaching staff is opening up the play book which will help keep defenses from knowing what handful of plays the Rams are running. The running game can not be worse than last year. They are showing signs of being better due to an offensive line that is more experienced and is creating holes for them to run through, however at least in the New Mexico game the backs were not taking advantage of those opportunities. Against Northern Colorado the backs showed they have the skills, but it was against Northern Colorado. We will see on Saturday if Colorado State is improved.

The Ralphie Report With CU receiver Paul Richardson having a career game last week against the Bears, the Rams will surely focus on him. How are CSU's corners and who will draw Richardson most of the game?

The Ralphie Report It looks like Momo Thomas is going to matchup up with Richardson, but look for the Rams to shadow him either with a safety on top or a linebacker underneath and possibly both depending on the situation. Thomas is a three-year starter who missed most of last year with season ending shoulder surgery in late September. Thomas has speed to be able to hang with Richardson, but there will be few times when the Rams will elect to go man-to-man against Richardson. Colorado State will want someone else to beat them from the wide receiver position.

The Ralphie Report CU wins if? CSU wins if? Final score prediction?

The Ralphie ReportThey establish a strong running game early and limit Paul Richardson's touches and/or big plays. Seems simple, but if the Rams are one-dimensional in the passing game then they have little to no hope in winning on Saturday. Final score: Colorado 24 Colorado State 20.
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