Keys to Victory: CSU vs UNM

Colorado State football (2-4) picked up its first road win of the season at San Jose State last weekend, but the game was a rollercoaster of emotions. The Rams led for the majority of the contest, but surrendered 30 points in the third quarter and nearly ended up losing to the Spartans after leading by 28 at halftime.

Obviously a win is a win, but CSU will look for a more consistent approach in Saturday’s Homecoming game against New Mexico (3-2). The Lobos are currently tied for first place in the Mountain Division, but UNM is just two weeks removed from a home loss to Liberty and they have been wildly unpredictable this year.

Here are three keys to victory for CSU football against its Mountain West rival.

1. Make New Mexico one-dimensional on offense:

The Lobos have historically leaned on the rushing attack under head coach Bob Davie, but UNM has made an attempt to throw the football more frequently in 2018. In UNM’s opening victory, the team’s quarterbacks combined for over 350 passing yards, and in last weekend’s win over UNLV, QB Sheriron Jones completed 13-of-20 pass attempts and tossed four touchdowns.

If CSU can shut down UNM through the air, it will allow the Rams to stack defenders near the line of scrimmage, which will benefit them greatly against the run.

2. Establish the run game:

All of the attention has gone to the passing offense this season, which makes sense with the quarterback competition. But as the offense proved last weekend at San Jose State, getting the ground game is the most important factor for CSU for multiple reasons.

Establishing the rushing attack takes some of the pressure off the quarterbacks in the pocket, and creates play-action opportunities for offense. It also allows the offensive line to get in a rhythm.

If this team is going to have any chance of turning around the season and competing for a bowl game, creating balance is going to be paramount.

3. Get Johnson and Williams at least 15 touches:

CSU’s biggest playmakers so far this season have been Olabisi Johnson and Preston Williams. The dynamic duo has looked nearly unstoppable at times and presents a big defensive mismatch for New Mexico.

If the Rams can get these guys at least 15 touches in the game, CSU should have a good chance to win this game. The reality is UNM does not have a cornerback that is capable of slowing down either of these talented wide receivers, and with their ability to make plays after the catch, Mike Bobo should be trying to get the ball in their hands as much as possible.

PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian