Watching Colorado State fall behind by 30 points and ultimately losing, 43-34, to Hawaii on Saturday night has certainly given Colorado football fans a jolt of confidence going into Friday's Rocky Mountain Showdown.
CU head coach Mike MacIntyre isn't expecting the same type of performance from the Rams this week, however.
"When you dissect (the film against Hawaii), they drastically got better as it went along," MacIntyre said Monday. "In the second half, CSU played really, really, really well."
Most notably, MacIntyre said he was impressed with the CSU offense, which finished with 653 yards. Quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels, a grad transfer from Washington who was making his CSU debut, set a single-game school record with 537 passing yards.
"They are dynamic on offense," MacIntyre said. "They have guys that can run everywhere and the quarterback can throw the deep ball really, really well."
MacIntyre has twice in the past few days singled out CSU receiver Olabisi Johnson as a player that impresses him, but knows that with 6-foot-6, 219-pound Warren Jackson and 6-4, 210-pound Preston Williams, the Rams have a trio of big-time weapons to target. They combined for 20 catches for 417 yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii.
Defensively, the Rams had a miserable game, giving up 617 yards and 43 points to a Hawaii team that was 106th nationally in scoring last year. Saturday's game was Hawaii's first with its new run-and-shoot offense.
"(The Rams) didn't have a clue what Hawaii was going to do," MacIntyre said. "That run and shoot is hard to prepare for in a couple of days. I know they'll play a ton better on defense (against CU) than they did.
"I was really impressed with their fight and their spirit in the second half, coming back."
One of a kind
True freshman Israel Antwine has been one of the stars of preseason camp for CU, and the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder has earned the starting nod at left defensive end.
MacIntyre said this isn't the first time he's had a true freshman defensive lineman like Antwine, but it is a first for him at CU.
"I'm excited about what Israel has done," MacIntyre said. "He's had a phenomenal fall camp. He'll have an excellent year, but he'll have his ups and downs like a freshman does."
During MacIntyre's first five years at CU, only one true freshman has played on the defensive line (Eddy Lopez with 123 snaps as a backup in 2014). Antwine will be the first true freshman to start a game on the defensive line at CU since 2012, when four different players got at least one start (Tyler Henington, Samson Kafovalu, Justin Solis and Josh Tupou).
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jake Moretti has been playing tackle, but is now second-team at left guard - a position that is less taxing on Moretti's legs, as he continues to recover from two years worth of injuries.
The Pomona High School graduate goes into the season ready to roll when needed, though.
"Every week that passes, the injury that he experienced a few years ago seems to be further and further behind him," co-offensive coordinator/line coach Klayton Adams said. "What we're trying to do is build him up to the point where you feel like he can play a certain amount of plays in a row without it being detrimental to the next several weeks.
"He's really shown some amazing progress. He's a pretty special talent."
Setback for Jackson
Redshirt freshman receiver Jaylon Jackson, who has played just one game in the past three years because of injuries, will miss Friday's opener because of an injury to his foot. Unlike Jackson's previous three injuries, this one is not serious.
MacIntyre said there's a "hot spot" on the third metatarsal bone in Jackson's foot.
"A hot spot means it could go into a stress fracture, so we shut him down," MacIntyre said. "It's not a stress fracture, which is good."
MacIntyre said the Buffs hope to have Jackson back for either the New Hampshire game on Sept. 15 or the UCLA game on Sept. 28.
"He was having a great, great fall camp," MacIntyre said. "When we get him on the field, you all will love him. He's a really good football player."
The Buffs are the designated road team Friday and will wear white pants and jerseys with gold helmets. ... CU is seeking its fourth consecutive win against the Rams, something it hasn't done since an eight-game win streak from 1987-98.