For this weekly column, Minnesota Daily sports reporter Jack White will interview someone knowledgeable about Minnesota’s next opponent. Colorado State football beat writer Eric Wolf of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State’s student newspaper, was interviewed this week.
Wolf has covered Colorado State Football for two years. This is Wolf’s first year in print journalism.
Q: What have you seen from Colorado State after the loss to Colorado?
A: They came out the last two weeks and they obviously weren’t playing an opponent the same caliber as Colorado, but they have responded, especially last week’s game against Northern Colorado. It showed they were struggling offensively big time in the Colorado game and especially at the quarterback position. Collin Hill came in last week, and he was able to get the offense going and actually complete some passes. And then defensively … That’s another aspect of the team that’s definitely gaining some confidence after the loss. I think they rebounded, but I think the game against Minnesota will be a nice barometer test for where they’re at.
Q: Going off the improvement in the passing game, what have you liked from the freshman quarterback?
A: I know [head coach Mike Bobo] likes [Hill], he’s liked him for a long time. When most people thought it was a two-man race between Nick Stevens and Faton Bauta [for starting quarterback], Bobo made clear that it was a three-man competition and [said] that he didn’t think Hill was actually a freshman because he came here early … you can see it in his play; he’s a confident kid. Granted, it’s only been one game but he put the ball where it needed to be thrown which is something this team was sorely lacking the first two games.
Q: How much has this Colorado State team changed since last year?
A: Almost completely, honestly. Last year, the Minnesota-Colorado State game was a very defensive-minded game … [Last year’s defense] lost eight starters … they just got a new defensive coordinator, Marty English, and they switched back to a 3-4 scheme. Schematically and personnel-wise, the defense is almost completely new from that game last year ... Offensively, a lot of the offensive line is the same. They’re a big, physical offensive line, this is going to be a test for them. Stevens was the quarterback for the majority of that Minnesota game last year and this year it’s going to be Hill, a guy who has a different look then Stevens. I think if anything that will be the biggest difference between the two games, along with the defense.
Q: At the slightest chance that starting running back Dalyn Dawkins doesn’t go, what do you think we can see from the Colorado State running game?
A: [Sophomore] Izzy Matthews is another who’s not fully healthy right now. He was a guy who expected to come in and be a big producer this year and he’s been hobbled by an ankle injury … Bobo said on Monday that the injury is still nagging him. If Dawkins isn’t able to go, expect a heavy dose of [Matthews]. And then [there’s] Marvin Kinsley who’s started out this year a little rough. He had a fumble against Northern Colorado on Saturday but he got it going towards the end of the game. He’s a talented guy.
Q: Going to the other side of the ball, who has been a standout on the defense?
Defensively, a standout, no doubt has been [linebacker] Kevin Davis. In that loss against Colorado, he went out and had 19 tackles. It shows that the rest of the defense was not producing in that game but he’s still a playmaker, he’s all over the field. They turned him lose against Texas-San Antonio. He had three sacks in that game [and] six more tackles in that game. He’s a linebacker who can rush the passer and can cover. He’s their definite defensive standout. He’s been there a long time. He’s a leader on the defense and he’s got playmaking ability.
Q: How do you think Colorado State stacks up against this Minnesota team?
A: I think they definitely stack up a lot better than how they would have stacked up a week ago or two weeks ago just because they’re not so one-dimensional in their offense anymore … All week long, the coaches have been stressing how physical and how good of a defense [Minnesota] is … you can see how physical they are. Their speed, their pass rush, I mean, they’re a good defense. … Offensively [for the Rams], it’s going to be tough. I think moving the ball down the field in the passing game is going to be crucial. I don’t know how much there’s going to be there in the running game. Defensively, [Colorado State is] going to have to step up. [Mitch] Leidner is a great quarterback. He’s bigger than some of [Colorado State’s] linebackers. The defense is going to have to play a physical ball game and they’re definitely undersized compared to Minnesota …
Q: Do you have a score prediction?
A: If I had to give you a score prediction, I would say, 23-14 Minnesota.