Note: For 11 straight days, I’ll post a brief team preview for each school in the Mountain West (except Boise State). I’m going in reverse order of predicted finish. I started with the West Division. Now it’s the Mountain Division’s turn.
COLORADO STATE RAMS
Coach: Jim McElwain
Record: 12-14 (two seasons)
Last year: 8-6 overall, 5-3 MW
Last bowl: 2013 New Mexico (W, 48-45 over Washington State)
Returning starters: 5/6/2 (offense/defense/specialists)
Story line: The Rams are on the rise and could cause problems in the Mountain Division with senior quarterback Garrett Grayson and six returning starters in the back of the defense. But their offensive and defensive lines were gutted in the offseason, so they could be another year or two away from championship caliber. “Our next step is to become consistent,” McElwain said. “ I see us making huge strides, but they’re strides. We need a lot of huge strides to get up there and become relevant, but the good thing is people are taking note and that tells us we’re doing something right.”
Star player: Grayson completed 62.1 percent of his passes last year with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His play helped the Rams score 36.2 points per game, which ranked 22nd in the nation. He’ll have to carry a heavier load this year without star tailback Kapri Bibbs.
Quotable: “He just changed the expectations around here. He expects us to be great and he won’t accept anything less than that.” — Colorado State linebacker Aaron Davis, on McElwain
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