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2020 Review: Trey McBride shined but CSU's offense underwhelmed in opening loss at Fresno State

Justin Michael Avatar
July 11, 2021

FORT COLLINS, CO. — The 2020 season was pretty much a flop for fans of the Green & Gold. 

Between Warren Jackson forgoing his eligibility, a lost opportunity to host the Rocky Mountain Showdown for the first time in decades, and multiple other schedule cancellations occurring at the last minute — if it wasn’t for the Bronze Boot finally returning to its rightful home — the Colorado State faithful would probably just want to forget the campaign altogether. 

As frustrating as 2020 was for Ram Nation, though, and it certainly was maddening in moments, there is reason to believe things could have been different for CSU in a more traditional season. 

Winning with thinner rosters is a challenge in itself, especially when you don’t get to have a normal training camp, and are being led by a first-year staff. But the emotional toll of having so many games stripped away at the last minute should not be overlooked either. It’s not easy to put your heart and soul into something, to work your ass off each and every week, only to find out that your big moment isn’t actually going to happen.You still have to make the most of the opportunities available, so I’m not trying to use this as a cop-out for CSU’s 1-3 record. Not factoring how distressing the situation was into the evaluation at all, though, would be disingenuous. 

Some moments were plain bad. And we’ll break them down as such. But there really were instances where this team’s potential flashed despite playing through some wonky circumstances. You wouldn’t necessarily know it based on the final scores alone. Watching guys like Trey McBride and Dante Wright, Scott Patchan and Manny Jones, though, it’s easy to believe that with more reps, less chaos, and having the benefit of home field advantage in more than one contest, the Rams could have at least finished with a .500 record in 2020. 

So with that in mind, we begin the 2020 review. Over the next two weeks we’ll dive into the good, the bad and everything in between as we review the 2020 season for the CSU Rams. 

Game 1: at Fresno State 

After nearly 11 months without playing another opponent, Colorado State Football officially kicked off the Steve Addazio era with a 38-17 loss at Fresno State on October 29, 2020. 

Donning all-white uniforms with the alternate bone helmet on top, the Rams looked sharp as they stepped out to compete against their conference foes from the west division. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an instance of look good, feel good, play good. One year after going into Bulldog Stadium and putting up 41 points and 500 yards of offense, the Rams looked extremely shaky in their 2020 opener. 

Going back and forth between Todd Centeio and Patrick O’Brien at quarterback — a decision that still confuses me — CSU struggled to get in a rhythm with the passing offense. 

It should be noted that neither Dante Wright or Ty McCullough were able to play in the game due to COVID-19 procedures. So, the options at wide receiver were definitely limited with no Warren Jackson in the mix. That said, it was still ugly. If Trey McBride didn’t record 130 yards on eight receptions, the Rams very well might have struggled to top 150 passing yards in this game. The rushing attack wasn’t much better, as both Marcus McElroy (2.9) and A’Jon Vivens (3.3) finished well below the target goal of at least 4 yards per carry. 

On the defensive side of things we saw a front seven that looked stout. Linebacker Dequan Jackson was a beast against the run, finishing with a team-high seven solo tackles (10 total). The defensive line, as it was all season, looked tremendous as well with four total sacks and a ton of pressure on Fresno State QB Jake Haener. The problem was that CSU couldn’t get off the field as they repeatedly allowed the Bulldogs to convert on third and long. 

In hindsight, Haener is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the Mountain West, so it’s not shocking that his athleticism presented problems for a team that hadn’t played a regular season game coming into the matchup. That said, after rewatching the secondary repeatedly  torched with big plays, it’s tough to feel all that confident about a group with even less depth going into 2021. 


Trey McBride did Trey McBride things against the Bulldogs. 

The Good 

Defensive Line. 

The Bad

The secondary really struggled as they allowed 16 first downs through the air. In the last three years the Rams are 0-4 when allowing 15 or more first downs via the opponent’s passing offense. 

Silver Linings

You aren’t going to lose very many games when the defensive line creates as much pressure as they were able to against the Bulldogs.


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