The Colorado St. Rams jump right into the season with a conference road game against the New Mexico Lobos. The Rams are expected by most to finish fifth in the Mountain West and contend for a bowl bid--playing against a New Mexico team that went 1-11 last year is a good start.
The Rams are hoping for bigger things from sophomore quarterback Pete Thomas, because last year he was highly restricted in the passing game and was limited to short passes and various screen passes. It was not until late in the season when the coaching staff allowed Thomas to throw the ball down field, but by then it was too late for the Rams. Expect the offensive staff to open up the playbook and allow Thomas to utilize his skills. This will open up the offense, allowing everyone to see if Thomas can live up to his four-star status as a high school recruit. Thomas should have success going up against New Mexico, who allowed a nation-worst 44.3 points per game and was 58th in passing defense.
The running game is another area that needs to find someone who is consistent. Last year, the Rams went through various backs with limited success. The Rams are deep at that position but they need someone to emerge out of the crowded group of three backs. The starter is Raymond Carter who was expected to come up with big things last year, but he was injured and never could get into a groove. Expect to see Chris Nwoke and Derek Good in action in this game; the group of three had a strong spring game, which is the reason for the optimism in the running game this year.
During fall camp New Mexico had a quarterback competition between B.R. Holbrook and Tarean Austin up until the very end of fall camp. Austin earned the starting nod due to his athletic ability, according to head coach Mike Locksley. That scrambling ability will be called upon quite often since the Lobo offensive line is not very good, and during fall camp they were routinely being beaten by their own defense. That is bad news for New Mexico since their defense was so poor last year and could mean New Mexico is in for another long year.
Even though the New Mexico defense seems to be improved, look for the Colorado State offense to have a similar game like last year when they defeated New Mexico with ease, 38-14.