Just in case Mike MacIntyre needed a reminder, watching video of last year's Rocky Mountain Showdown certainly served as a reminder that Colorado State's Dalyn Dawkins is a talented running back.
"He's a heck of a runner," the Colorado head coach said on Monday. "We've got to rally to him and hopefully we can get some off some blocks better and be able to stop him. He's an excellent runner."
Slowing Dawkins and the rest of the CSU running backs will be crucial for the Buffs as they open the season on Friday against the Rams at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
Dawkins led the Rams with 867 rushing yards last season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He had 118 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in CU's 27-24 overtime win against the Rams on Sept. 19, 2015. He also caught six passes for 59 yards against the Buffs.
Dawkins is hardly the only runner on the Buffs' minds this week, though. CSU has topped 200 rushing yards the last two years against the Buffs, and the Rams have the players to do it again if CU isn't stout up front.
"(Dawkins) is a really good runner, but that offensive line is really good," MacIntyre said, praising the Rams' experienced and talented front line. "We've got to be able to be sound in our defensive front and our run fits and then be able to tackle (Dawkins) in space."
In addition to Dawkins, the Rams' have sophomore Izzy Matthews, who posted 590 yards and 6.1 yards per carry last year. He did not carry the ball against the Buffs a year ago.
True freshman Marvin Kinsey, Jr., has also been impressive in camp and figures to be in the rotation, as well.
CSU ran for 218 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries in last year's matchup, and racked up 266 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries in 2014.
Senior center Alex Kelley said that while the Buffs had had a good camp, there's some extra energy in the locker room with a game on the horizon.
"Our mood is really good," he said. "(Monday's practice) was really crisp, really high intensity. Starting the week, I think we're in a good spot and we're going to continue to get better up until Friday."
Kelley said the Buffs have come into every season with a good feeling and a measure of hope, but said, "The difference between last season and this season is I feel like we've put in that extra work that we needed to do, put in those extra hours, put in that extra lifting time, put in that extra meeting time to really improve."
Unlike the National Football League, where teams play four preseason games, college teams go from camp to meaningful games.
MacIntyre said he'd like to see each team get one exhibition tune-up.
"I've always thought they should allow a Division I school to scrimmage a I-AA school, and therefore the I-AA school can get the money and it would help their budgets, because I think it would help football," MacIntyre said.
Last season, the Buffs were plus-1 on turnover margin for the season, the first time since 2006 that they were on the plus side.
The Buffs' defense produced 22 turnovers last season, doubling the 11 they got in 2014. Two of those turnovers came in the win against the Rams, including Kenneth Olugbode's interception return for touchdown.
As it heads into a new season, CU will once again focus on getting more turnovers.
"That's always been a big emphasis of mine, takeaways and ball security," MacIntyre said. "We've done a good job of holding onto the ball for the most part since we've been here and last year we jumped a lot in takeaways. One of the helps in that is we have better athletes on the field."
The Buffs announced their uniform combination for Friday's game. The team will go with the traditional gold helmet with black jerseys and gold pants. The Buffs plan to announce the combination on the Monday before the game ... As of mid-afternoon on Monday, CU had sold 29,286 tickets for Friday's game, with 6,275 of those going to students. Colorado State reported it has sold 26,000 tickets, with 6,887 going to students. CU was given roughly 36,000 tickets to sell for the game. CU season ticket holders are allowed to opt out of the CSU game and use the value of those tickets toward additional tickets at a home game. About 2,800 season ticket holders have elected that option.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.