Although they got off to a slow start on Saturday - scoring just one touchdown in the first half - CSU’s offense looked as good as advertised. Wideout’s Olabisi Johnson and Preston Williams both had over 150 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions, and quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels set a school passing record in his Rams debut with 537 yards to go along with five touchdowns.
Additionally, the Rams run game looked good with Carta-Samuels, senior Izzy Matthews, and Denver native Marcus McElroy all contributing. However, they were forced to abandon the run and resort to more of a air-raid style attack in the second half down by 30 points.
With a multi-dimensional offensive attack to defend, Colorado will have their hands full come Friday. Their run defense struggled mightily a year ago, and has two inexperienced starters at both end positions. Add in the fact that the Rams have a week of game experience under their belt (something that could help eliminate early mistakes and allow them to get off to a quicker start), and this offense could present problems for the Buffs.
After practice, Coach MacIntyre was very complimentary of both CSU’s wide receiving core and their offense as a whole.
“[The Rams] are dynamic on offense - they have guys that can run everywhere, a quarterback that can throw the deep ball really, really, well, and I was really impressed.”
Despite CSU’s promising start on offense, their defense looked atrocious, giving up 43 points to a Hawaii offense that is projected to finish towards the bottom of the Mountain West. However, it’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding the situation. The Rams were forced to prepare for a tough to defend “run and shoot” offense - one that puts an emphasis on route improvisation, passing frequently, and getting the ball out quickly. This type of system is also somewhat outdated, and thus hard to both predict and defend.
Even though the Rams struggled against a seemingly lackluster offense, MacIntyre expects them to shake off the rust, and look much better in game number two.
“Defensively they didn’t have a clue what Hawaii was going to do, and I know they’ll play a ton better on defense than they did. They drastically got better as [the game went along] on film when you dissect it.”
Between CSU’s struggles on defense and the Buffs firepower on offense, and the Rams talent on offense with the Buffs inexperience on defense, this year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown has the potential to turn into a high scoring affair.
Antwine Set To Start
After struggling mightily up front last year, it was time to get some fresh faces on the defensive line. Buffs fans nationwide were ecstatic when the team was able to get highly touted defensive line recruit Israel Antwine to flip his commitment from Oklahoma State to Colorado. Coming in, the question was how early Antwine would be able get up to game speed and make an impact. Turns out the answer to that burning question is now. After being listed as the starting left defensive end on the depth chart, it’s clear the Buffs have confidence and high expectations for the true freshman. Although it’s expected that he’ll inevitably endure some growing pains early on, Antwine should grow and evolve into the player the team feels he can be over time.
Another Setback for Jackson
After missing his final two years of high school with seperate torn ACL’s, and his true freshman season with a broken foot, wide receiver Jaylon Jackson has suffered yet another setback. Coach MacIntyre revealed to the media that the speedy wideout had a “hot spot” on the metatarsal bone on his foot which had the potential to turn into a stress fracture. Because of this, the team decided to shut him down for the time being for precautionary reasons. Per Mac, Jackson will miss at least the first two games of the season, and will return for either the home opener against New Hampshire or the following week against UCLA. His debut may be long awaited, but when Jackson is finally able to get on the field he has all the tools to help the team.