Colorado State hosts rare SEC foe as Arkansas pays visit
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Here’s a rare sight: A Southeastern Conference football team visiting Colorado State .
No rolling out the red carpet for Arkansas on Saturday, though. The Rams defense has done far too much of that already, allowing an average of 44 points and 606.5 yards through two games.
Colorado State (0-2) struggled to stop Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald and then Colorado’s Steven Montez.
Now, the Rams prepare for two Arkansas QBs — Ty Storey and Cole Kelley. It’s not exactly an ideal situation for the beleaguered Rams, who are hosting an SEC team for just the second time. In 1981, a ranked Mississippi State squad beat the Rams 37-27 in Fort Collins.
“It’s a great challenge, because here comes an SEC opponent to our place,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “But what an opportunity for our football team, for our program, despite being 0-2, to have Arkansas come in here and go play. You ought to be excited as a competitor.”
The Razorbacks (1-0) roll in fresh off a 55-20 win over Eastern Illinois. In that game, Storey came off the bench to throw three touchdown passes and rush for another, while Kelley threw for a score. First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris plans to use a dose of both throughout the evening.
One thing Morris won’t do: Overlook the Rams, especially given Bobo’s ties to the SEC. Bobo was the offensive coordinator at Georgia before taking over in Fort Collins before the 2015 season. The Rams have been to a bowl game in all three seasons under Bobo.
“Don’t let their record fool you: They’ve lost and played some really good football teams,” said Morris, who arrived at Arkansas after a three-year stint with SMU. “Coach Bobo is familiar with our conference. Being in this conference, he understands what this is about. This is not a group we’re going to take lightly by no stretch of the imagination.”
It’s been a challenging summer for Bobo as he continues to heal from numbness in his feet that landed him in the hospital for 10 days. Bobo was back in time for the opener against Hawaii, but watched from the coaches’ box. Last week against rival Colorado in Denver, he limped along the sideline with an assistant close by to protect him.
His defense has been shredded in both games. His offense, which was formidable against Hawaii, sputtered against the Buffaloes.
This week, they’ve regrouped.
“There should be disappointment. We’re not where we want to be,” said Bobo, whose team plays at Florida next weekend. “But we’re not going to roll over and say, ‘Hey, we’re dead.’ That’s part of taking the next step. That’s part of what we do as coaches, teaching these young men how to continue to put the next step forward day-after-day, no matter what happens.”
Things to know as Arkansas visits Fort Collins on a night when the Rams have their “Stripe the Stadium” promotion, where fans alternate their apparel between green and white by section:
SERIES BREAKDOWN: The Razorbacks are 3-0 all-time against the Rams with each game played in Arkansas. They won 43-9 in ’74, 36-3 in ’79 and 31-20 in ’90.
ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: To get the lowdown on playing at higher elevation — Fort Collins is around 5,000 feet — Morris reached out to a player who played for him at SMU: Broncos rookie receiver Courtland Sutton. “We’re really not going to make a big deal out of (elevation) outside of fact that our guys are going to be well-hydrated,” Morris said.
HILL CLIMB: Colorado State will start graduate transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels at QB. But redshirt sophomore Collin Hill could see some action after making his season debut last week against Colorado. He’s approximately 5 1/2 months removed from surgery to fix a torn ACL. “I believe he’s in a good place,” Bobo said.
ADDITIONS: The Rams add two more running backs with the return of Rashaad Boddie and Marvin Kinsey Jr. from suspension. They’ll join Izzy Matthews and Marcus McElroy in the backfield. In addition, receiver Darius Wise and cornerback Darius Campbell are available to play.
TOP TACKLER: Razorbacks senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw had 10 tackles in the first quarter last week before exiting with a leg injury. “Probably breaks most of the records if he continued to play” in that game, Morris said. Greenlaw was listed as day-to-day earlier in the week. He had 103 tackles last season.