MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks (0-1) are set to face off against the Colorado State Rams (0-1) this weekend at Fort Collins. Both teams are off to rocky starts this season after losing their first games of the season. This one should be an interesting matchup between two teams that have bright futures, but only one team will be able to right the ship after their week one loss.
Western comes into the ball game after a disappointing 26-17 loss to North Alabama. The Leathernecks could not get the job done on the road despite being 20-point road favorites against the Lions. However, Coach Elliott said after the game it was a good teaching moment, and that they cannot let this loss define them. They will have a chance to redeem themselves against FBS opponent Colorado State University.
Under the Coach Elliott tenure, the Leathernecks are 0-1 against FBS opponents after falling to the University of Illinois a season ago. On another note, this is the perfect matchup for the Purple and Gold to regain their confidence, but things will have to be different from their week one defeat.
Coach Elliott and the Western Illinois offense run a modern offense that keeps the defense thinking, but they will have to be more creative against the Rams if they would like to come out victorious. The Leathernecks run a lot of pre-snap motion plays, as well as jet sweeps, but need to be more diverse in terms of taking shots downfield. Western needs to take advantage of Colorado State’s shaky defense, who gave up 52 points to Colorado last week. One way they can do that is by taking more shots downfield. The Leathernecks have explosive playmakers all over the offense and they have to utilize them. Last week against North Alabama, the only explosive play Western had was a 48-yard completion from Conor Sampson to Tony Tate. They will need to emulate more plays like these if they would like to pull off the upset on the road.
Western will have their work cut out for them this weekend if they would like to get the victory at Fort Collins. Colorado state should have plenty of fans in attendance because it is one of their promotional games throughout the season. They will be hosting “Denver Day” as well as “High School Spirit Day.”
Western also needs to watch out for the pass-heavy attack the Rams bring to the table. Last week quarterback Collin Hill threw 374 yards to go along with three touchdowns. Hill’s favorite target is wide receiver, Warren Jackson. Jackson caught eight passes and had 87 yards to go along with a touchdown.
The keys to a Leatherneck victory are to shut down the dynamic duo of Hill and Jackson on defense, and give Sampson enough time in the pocket to make some big plays on offense. Game time is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday.