Utah State football: Aggies preparing for Rams, reunion with Baldwin
Fort Collins, Colo. • Focus.
That's been the word for Chuck Jacobs this week. The pleasantries can come after Utah State faces Colorado State at Hughes Stadium on Saturday. Jacobs, a senior wide receiver for the Aggies, will see his old offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin, for the first time since the OC left USU for CSU last year. The memories are fond. The stories about his old coach are funny. Still, there's a game to play. And a win for USU is almost mandatory after last week's crushing loss at Wisconsin.
When the game is over, though, Jacobs fully expects to greet Baldwin and offer a hand and many warm words.
"I'll definitely look for him on the field after the game is over," Jacobs said. "He taught me a lot. We definitely miss him and want to say hello. At the same time, we have a job to do, so we can't worry about that stuff until it's time."
The challenge has been significant for Baldwin, now the offensive coordinator for the Rams. His side of the ball has faced a number of injuries. The personnel isn't what the Colorado State coaching staff wants, and the Rams are breaking in a young quarterback in sophomore Garrett Grayson.
Yes, Baldwin is only a year removed from coaching the likes of Robert Turbin, Michael Smith and Chuckie Keeton. Right now, however, those days must seem far away.
Jim McElwain, Colorado State's first-year head coach, prohibits his assistants from talking to the media. But he is well aware of the pending reunion, and says that emotions will be running high for Baldwin on Saturday.
"The number one thing is that Dave misses those kids," McElwain said. "He spent a lot of time at Utah State, and he built a nice offense there. He has fond memories of the Aggies and has nothing but nice things to say about his stay there. Right now with us, we don't have everything that we want or need. But he's doing a great job with what he does have."
The Rams can't seem to stay healthy. Running back Chris Nwoke, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season, has been limited to 11 carries in three games because of a bum ankle. Donnell Alexander, who has gotten out to a fast start, won't play this week.
For the Aggies, the biggest concern about facing their former OC is Baldwin's knowledge of what they like to do defensively. USU coach Gary Andersen also knows that Baldwin has a history of changing around an offense to fit the strengths of his players.
"In 2009, he made us a spread offense because that's what our personnel had," Andersen said. "Last year he did a great job of realizing who we were, with a freshman quarterback and two great running backs. So the scariest thing for me is walking into the game and wondering which way they're going to go."
Utah State at Colorado State
P Saturday, 5 p.m.
Where • Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins
TV • KMYU
Radio • 97.5 FM
Series history • Colorado State leads 36-30-2
Last meeting • Colorado State 35-34 (September 24th, 2011)
About the Aggies • USU has won three of its last four road games. â¦ This is the third most played rivalry in Utah State history. â¦ The Aggies have four touchdown drives this year of three plays or fewer. â¦ USU has won seven of its last eight regular-season games. â¦ The Aggies under Gary Andersen are 10-10 following a loss.
About the Rams • CSU is 16-13-1 all-time against Utah State in Fort Collins. â¦ Running back Donnell Alexander is expected to miss the game with a sprained ankle. â¦ Chris Nwoke had 85 rushing yards and two touchdowns last year against Utah State. â¦ Freshman linebacker Cory James has four sacks this season.