By JONATHAN BAGLEY
Picked as the Pacific Division favorite, Colorado State head coach Sonny Lubick has the luxury of picking every other team as the one to beat.
“San Diego State has the best players from California. I don’t know how anyone can beat those guys,” Lubick said.
And “BYU can play with anybody,” are a couple of the comments Lubick is throwing around to downplay the Rams potential.
Colorado State returns 17 starters to a team that lost the Pacific Division by one point to Wyoming last year, Lubick said. Wyoming lost its team and coach, so the media feel the likely candidate is Colorado State.
Lubick would rather they slotted the Rams as underdogs. So he is taking care of that himself with comments like, “Air Force should win every game,” and “Wyoming lost a lot of players but should always be there.”
How about, “Nevada Reno is every bit as good as Oregon.” Reno is Colorado State’s first game of the year.
If that is true Colorado State should beat Oregon 45-13, like they beat Nevada Saturday.
But the truth is Colorado State returns two of the best players in the nation at running back and quarterback.
Moses Moreno will be fifth in passing efficiency among returning quarterbacks — the best returner in the conference.
But Lubick will probably tell you UNLV’s Johnny “Denton is about as good a quarterback there is in the country.”
Damon Washington will be 15th among returning tailbacks. Washington had over a thousand yards last season and is the WAC’s best returner based on per game average.
Next to BYU the Ram’s are the second most successful WAC team of the ’90’s. They won back to back conference championships in 1994-95, only to lose in both Holiday Bowls.
The Rams finished 7-5 last year going 4-2 in conference and 3-3 out, including a loss at Nebraska.
Outside of quarterback and running back, the Rams field a long list of pre-season All-WAC candidates.
The Sporting News named defensive end Adrian Ross No. 12 in the nation at his position, and ranked guard Anthony Cesario the 9th.
Defensive back Erik Olson and linebacker Willie Taylor were voted pre-season All-WAC by the Sporting News.
Despite all the talent on paper Lubick will still tell you, “there will be no gimmies this year.”