After what amounted to a four-game dress rehearsal last fall due to COVID-19, Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio gets his first full season in Fort Collins. Here’s what the Rams need to do in order for it to be successful:

1. Todd Centeio’s arm

Yes, Addazio wants to pound the ball. Yes, Centeio, a two-way threat, can run like the wind. But this team’s best offensive weapons are still at tight end in the form of Trey McBride and Cam Butler. If No. 7 can find them, and find a way to get speedy wideout Dante Wright open in space, this Rams offense won’t just be multiple. It might actually be dangerous.

2. Special teams, special teams, special teams

Four games played last fall. Three kicks blocked. Five special-teams touchdowns given up. Gotta be better. Period. Especially on punt-and-kick coverage. It’s hard enough to overcome one team each week, let alone two. This roster isn’t talented enough yet to wallpaper over a litany of self-inflicted wounds.

3. Adding to the trophy case

Daz knows: If the wins aren’t coming in quantity, they better darn well come with quality. And nothing excites the natives like bragging rights over Wyoming and Air Force. This fall, the Pokes (Nov. 6, away) and Zoomies (Nov. 13, home) come back-to-back. Best win at least one of those, if not both.

4. Winning the turnover battle

With a nasty front seven and experience across the board, this defense could be one of the best in the Mountain West. But if it’s having to protect short fields, time after time, that advantage becomes moot. In their three losses in 2020, the Rams were a combined minus-2 in turnover ratio. In their victory over Wyoming, they were plus-3.

5. A fast start, baby

Given how little they actually played in 2020, nobody’s quite sure what to make of The Daz Era Rams yet. And it’s a safe bet that nobody sees them coming, either. The first three contests (vs. South Dakota State, vs. Vandy, at Toledo), on paper, are all winnable, and the MW home-opener on Oct. 9 against San Jose State, last year’s surprise league champ, could signpost the year’s closing kick.

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