Keys to Victory: CSU vs Arkansas
Colorado State football will host Arkansas Saturday in what will be a rare trip to Mountain West country for an SEC school. Arkansas (1-0) is coming off a 35 point victory over Eastern Illinois, while CSU (0-2) has lost both of its 2018 matchups so far.
Here are the keys to victory for the Rams in what is the first of two SEC games on the 2018 schedule.
1. Control the tempo: CSU has struggled to control the pace of play so far this season for two key reasons. On the offensive side, the Rams have failed to establish any kind of run game which has made the team extremely one dimensional. On the defensive side, CSU struggled to even slow down Hawai'i or Colorado.
If the Rams are going to have any chance of competing on Saturday, being able to control the tempo will be a big factor. Arkansas is an inexperienced team and will be playing at altitude which could potentially be a factor if the Rams can play a physical game on both sides of the football and wear down the visiting Razorbacks.
When CSU traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama last September, the Rams played a competitive game against the Crimson Tide, who went on to win the National Championship. Ultimately the Rams were defeated 41-23 by an extremely talented football team. On that night, Colorado State kept it close by mixing in a healthy mix of the run game though.
CSU finished that contest against the Crimson Tide with 144 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown which is more than the Rams have done on the ground in the first two games of 2018 combined.
Having a breakout game on the ground would be on multiple levels. It would take some of the heat off of senior quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels and help keep the defense honest. But more importantly it ensures that the offense stays on the field and helps give the defense time to rest.
The offense has been limited due to a two-game suspension of running backs, Marvin Kinsey (junior) and Rashaad Boddie (redshirt sophomore), which was served in the first two games of the season. Both will be back on Saturday and will need to make an impact.
2. Get the tight ends involved in the passing game: CSU's wide receivers will put up numbers on a weekly basis, no matter who is under center. Bisi Johnson (senior) and Preston Williams (redshirt junior) are both legitimate No. 1 wide receivers and when Warren Jackson gets going, this team will be truly dangerous through the air.
It is easy to go on about the wide receivers, but the Rams have an extremely athletic group of tight ends that should be used more frequently in the passing game. Cam Butler (sophomore) and Griffin Hammer (redshirt freshman) are reliable pass catchers and can attack the defense in the middle of the field when they spotlight the wide receivers.
3. Make tackles: It may sound simple but CSU's defense has struggled to tackle this season and it is a big reason that the Rams have been torched on the ground and through the air. With two SEC games remaining on the schedule and an extremely important game against Illinois State on Sept. 22, the Rams have to figure things out before conference play.
It has been an embarrassing start to the season for CSU so far but the Rams do have time to work things out.
PHOTOS: Tony Villalobos-May