Who is the State of Colorado? What to Know About Iowa Football’s Week 4 Enemy


IOWA CITY – Outside of Cy-Hawk, Iowa’s annual non-conference program can be any sort of random concoction usually generated years in advance. Saturday’s showdown is among the most random of the Kirk Ferentz era.

Colorado State’s hike to Kinnick Stadium will mark only the sixth time the Hawkeyes have hosted a school from the Mountain or Pacific time zones in Ferentz’s 23 seasons. Of these clashes, only one featured a team from the Mountain West Conference (Wyoming in 2017).

Arguably, Iowa’s preparation this week has been more about familiarization than anything else.

So who exactly is the state of Colorado (1-2) in 2021? And should the Iowa No.6 (3-0) have a thwarted fear outside of the usual “take everyone seriously” approach? Let’s dive into what the Rams have shown so far.

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The state of Colorado has taken a roundabout route for a reasonably expected start.

Chosen in preseason to finish fourth in the MWC Mountain Division, the Rams sat down to 1-2 after encountering an FCS team (albeit a good one), a Power Five team (albeit a bad one) and a trip to the road of the group of five does not sound too weird. But it’s the way the state of Colorado got there that is somewhat baffling.

As field goal favorites, the Rams were intimidated at home by the Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite South Dakota. Colorado State followed that up with a last-second loss at home to Vanderbilt, in a game in which the Rams held a 14-0 lead. But just when it looked like Colorado State was destined for the lowest, the Rams rebounded last Saturday with a fine victory in Toledo as a two-touchdown underdog. The victory over the Rockets, which had pushed Notre Dame into the top 10 over the brink a week before, came without Colorado State scoring an offensive touchdown.

Suffice to say, these Rams are still on the hunt for an identity under the guidance of sophomore coach Steve Addazio. The former Boston College boss (who coached against the Hawkeyes in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl) got just four games last season in a pandemic-plagued campaign. Seven games in 21 months of work are far from ideal, and that’s probably one of the reasons Colorado State’s results are all over the place.

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The menacing Iowa defense should like what they see when they film Colorado State quarterback Todd Centeio.

An inconsistent QB situation should allow the Iowa defense to revel in once again.

Iowa’s stifling defense has already troubled several established quarterbacks in that 3-0 start. Colorado state’s location below the center should only add to the Hawkeyes’ threatening reputation.

Todd Centeio’s stint with the Rams has been anything but smooth. The former Temple replacement moved to Colorado state ahead of the 2020 season, secured the starting position for last year’s game opener, lost first-team status for the last three games, and then recovered it to start 2021. And all Centeio has done this season is steadily declining productivity.

After throwing for 304 yards against South Dakota State and 238 yards against Vanderbilt, Centeio only collected 110 yards in Toledo’s victory. It came on a horrendous 11-for-27 pass – a big reason Colorado State demanded five field goals for their offensive points alone. A quarterback’s worst performance to come in his team’s best performance never bodes well, especially with a new offensive coordinator – that’s former Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr – in tow.

Centeio has been most effective on the field, where he has covered 137 yards on 23 carries over the past two weeks combined, meaning the Iowa lockdown defense will need another strong disciplinary performance. and containment. And it’s clear there’s chemistry with tight end Trey McBride, who has played three 100-yard games this year and caught all but two of Centeio’s goals last week.

But there’s no doubt that improving Iowa’s defensive line, aspiring linebackers and veteran highs should salivate at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Colorado State's defense, particularly the stoppage of the run, improved a lot last week in Toledo.

What has changed for Colorado State’s defense in Toledo? A race stop clinic.

After losses in which both South Dakota State and Vanderbilt running backs averaged over 5 yards per carry, Colorado State tightened things up against the Rockets. Toledo has amassed just 21 rushing yards in 28 carries split between five different ball carriers, with the longest sprint (15 yards) coming from quarterback Dequan Finn. There was no hole to be found from start to finish.

A series of blitzes and heavy pressure sparked this race-jamming effort, particularly impressive after Toledo ran nearly six times the yards against Notre Dame. Keep an eye out for Rams defensive end Scott Patchan, an all-MWC preseason pick who was named to Pro Football Focus’s Week 3 National Team of the Week.

Consider this a good test for Iowa to maintain their ground game momentum. The Hawkeyes’ main offensive catalyst so far has clearly been Tyler Goodson, and stringing back-to-back emphatic performances would be the perfect boost in the main part of the Big Ten game.

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Iowa will take a look on Saturday at Colorado State's Ryan Stonehouse, the first punter to be selected to the MWC First Team for three consecutive seasons.

The Rams are one of the few who can compete with the Iowa “special” teams.

Controlling a game in which your offense never reaches the end zone requires a lot of input from the other two phases of football, and Colorado State has received a lot of oomph from its special teams.

Last Saturday was a necessary rebound for new kicker Cayden Camper, who delivered the 5-for-5 performance after starting 1-for-4 in the first substantial action of his college career. Camper is a former replacement, as is teammate Thomas Pannunzio, who made the biggest splash of the special teams with a 70-yard punt return touchdown against the Rockets. Pannunzio was an all-MWC 2020 honorable mention at the kick-back.

And those ratings don’t even cover the Rams’ best special-teams weapon: punter Ryan Stonehouse. The fifth-year graduate student has been on the Ray Guy Award watchlist every season at Colorado State, and last year he became the first punter to win All-MWC first-team honors for three seasons. consecutive.

Stonehouse is expected to have a lot of work on Saturday, which means Iowa could face several long fields throughout the day. Spencer Petras and company proved able to handle these situations last week and will have to do it again.

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preparations for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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