Keys to Victory: CSU attempts to win first road game of season

Colorado State football (1-4) will attempt to turn the season around, starting Saturday night at San Jose State (0-4). In a game that is expected to have both CSU quarterbacks see the field, here are the keys to victory for the Rams Saturday night.

1. Establish the run game: Whether it is Collin Hill or K.J. Carta-Samuels under center for the Rams Saturday night, establishing some kind of ground game is going to be essential. Despite being a former quarterback, head coach Mike Bobo has designed offenses that successfully run the football throughout his coaching career. 2018 has been a different story with Ronnie Letson (quarterbacks coach) calling the plays though.

Izzy Matthews was able to record a season-high 71 rushing yards in the loss to Illinois State, but the Rams only rushed for 131 yards as a team. Last season, Dalyn Dawkins individually averaged 107 yards per game and it was the key to CSU’s offensive success. If the Rams can make Spartans worry about the runners between the tackles Saturday, it is going to open up the field for playmakers like Bisi Johnson and Preston Williams on the outside.

2. Find a QB and stick with him: Essentially halfway through the year, CSU is still trying to figure out its offensive identity. There are some winnable games remaining on the schedule, but it is going to be difficult to turn things around if the Rams continue to rotate between Hill and Carta-Samuels.

The truth is Carta-Samuels has not been the problem this season, but now he is essentially between a rock and a hard place. The team is 1-4 and whether he is to blame or not, it makes sense to try and find a spark. The oddest part about the competition has been how the quarterbacks have been rotated though. Instead of an established plan to use both quarterbacks, the decisions to switch them in and out have appeared to be driven by emotion in the heat of play.

Considering this is the first game where the staff has openly said both quarterbacks will be in the mix, it will be interesting to see if their rotations are more strategic this week.

3. Quality performance from the special teams units: It has been an up-and-down year for the specialists, but they are very important to CSU’s success as a team. Being able to flip the field with a monster punt from Ryan Stonehouse or secure points with a field goal from Wyatt Bryan can be the difference between winning and losing, especially in a tight game. The forecast shows clear weather for the game tonight and the offensive line will not be going against an SEC defensive front, so there is no reason to expect the specialists to have a big night.

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. MT

TV: CBS Sports Network