Colorado State vs Hawaii: Three predictions for the 2018 season opener
Colorado State football needs to start the 2018 season with a victory. With a brutal non conference slate that includes three Power 5 opponents, the Rams cannot afford to start the season 0-1. The University of Hawaii is never an easy opponent to prepare for because of how unfamiliar of an opponent they are, but this is very much a winnable game for the Rams at home. Here are three predictions for the first matchup of the season.
1. K.J. Carta-Samuels throws for 250 yards and three touchdowns: Carta-Samuels made 25 appearances in four seasons with Washington, but Saturday will be his first career start. Look for CSU to try to get the veteran quarterback in rhythm by throwing the ball early and often. The Rams have the skill players to stretch Hawaii defensively and Carta-Samuels has a big enough arm to beat them over the top. Obviously it is still early and there is much football to be played this season, but with Collin Hill extremely close to being medically cleared, getting off to a fast start will be important for Carta-Samuels. The graduate transfer has long waited for an opportunity to run an offense and he definitely has said all the right things this summer. I expect him to play well in his CSU debut.
2. The defense creates two turnovers: Other than getting a good look at CSU's new quarterback, the most intriguing aspect of Saturday's game will be getting a look at this redesigned defense under John Jancek. The veteran defensive coordinator has brought a new energy to the defensive side of the ball and CSU appears to be positioned to be a much better defensive unit in 2018. The secondary is filled with playmakers and CSU has one of the better groups of linebackers in the Mountain West. CSU forced five turnovers in the 2017 opener against Oregon State. The Rams should create at least two in Saturday's matchup with Hawaii.
3. Wyatt Bryan makes two field goals | Ryan Stonehouse records a 60-yard punt: Special teams may not be sexy but they should be a strength for CSU football in 2018. Bryan returns for his senior season as CSU's career leader in field-goal percentage (77.8%) and is second all-time in career points with 275. Stonehouse is only a sophomore but should once again be one of the nation's most effective punters. After working on his hangtime in the offseason, Stonehouse should be able to easily flip the field if the offense stalls this weekend.
Final Score: Colorado State wins 38-20
PHOTO: Courtesy of Hawaii Athletics