It looked ugly, but there were some strong points for the Rams.
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Can the Rams continue to build on his performance?
The state of Colorado went to the Big House and came out relatively unscathed. They were outscored in a 51-7 loss to the top ten Wolverines, but there are some definite takeaways for this Rams team.
The Rams defense was definitely up to the task early on, but the Michigan defense wore them down as the game went on. Three early stops in the red zone that led to field goals and, with the exception of one explosive play, really limited Michigan’s offense in the first half.
The offense was understandably overwhelmed by Michigan’s defense. You had a redshirt rookie quarterback make his first college start and you had an offensive line make their first start together as a unit. These things will calm down as the year progresses, but they made for a frustrating day at times.
Now let’s move on to the takeaways from this Rams squad.
The offensive line needs time to gel.
This is the most obvious conclusion of the game. The OL seemed lost at times because they didn’t trust the guy next to him. That will come as the season progresses. The coaches tried to help early on by calling quick plays to get the line together, but it still wasn’t enough.
The OL also wasn’t helped by quarterback Clay Millen holding the ball longer than he should have. Again, not a worrisome concern since it was his first outing, but still something to watch out for. There were times when he should have thrown the ball and times when he should have thrown it first. But all of that comes with more experience.
The defense will lead the charge for the first part of the season.
One could look at the scorecard and call this crazy, but it’s true. This CSU defense was doing his job for the first half, off one play. Michigan continued to lean on defense, which led to the box marker looking the way it does.
The defense limited Michigan to 3 of 10 on third downs. They held on early in the red zone, even holding the Wolverines to a field goal after an interception. The defensive line was wreaking havoc in the backfield. The linebackers were making side-by-side plays. The only concern was wide receivers, but they were helped by dropped passes.
You can see the potential this CSU team has.
A late Millen touchdown to Tory Horton kept CSU from being shut out. To carry and CSU sacks averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Which, coming from an airstrike team, is respectable; especially against a Michigan defense that was top 15 last season and had to replace several key pieces on that side of the ball.
The defense kept the team in this from the start. The punt game looked bad, but that was due to the game plan. The coaches are not worried. The only ones who are really scared are the fans. This was a buy game for the Rams, earning the athletic department $1.8 million. But there were positives for the CSU staff to take away from this game.
And now a take for next week:
The performance against Middle Tennessee will be decisive for the Rams.
Everyone wants to move on from the Addazio era and those two years have mostly been erased. But the one thing that was always worrying was the animosity directed towards Todd Centeio. And he showed why he wasn’t always deserved this week, as he dominated against Middle Tennessee with nearly 400 combined rushing and passing yards and six passing touchdowns in James Madison’s 44-7 win.
Now that take is directed primarily at Middle Tennessee’s performance as they gave up 548 yards while only managing 119 yards themselves. If this CSU team is what we think it is, this week will be the real test. If they can perform at a level similar to James Madison, this CSU team is on the right track. If they perform mediocrely, there is still work to be done. If they come out and lay an egg, then one can start to worry about this team.
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The story originally appeared on the Mountain West Wire