CSU’s Trey McBride poses match-up problem for Cowboys
LARAMIE -- Steve Addazio knows who he is starting at quarterback Thursday night.
He's just not telling you.
"We know what we’re doing,” Colorado State's new head coach told the media Monday afternoon. "I’m not going to share it. That’s not in our best interest to do that. We made a decision last week for some sound reasons, and we got a lot of productivity. We’ve made a decision this week. They’re both talented, and it’s very likely you could see them both.”
He's talking about Todd Centeio, the Temple transfer who started the opener against Fresno State, and last year's starting signal caller Patrick O'Brien.
While we won't know who gets the nod for the Rams under center until game night, there's no hiding their biggest and best offensive weapon.
His name is Trey McBride and he's a 6-foot, 4-inch, 260-pound tight end, who is coming off an eight-catch, 130-yard performance in northern California. He also caught a touchdown in the final minute of CSU's 38-17 loss to the Bulldogs.
Wyoming got a first-hand look at the big man in Laramie last season.
Cassh Maluia covered him. So did Alijah Halliburton. Keyon Blankenbaker took his shots, too. McBride still finished with six grabs for 78 yards. He bullied and bruised his way for 13 yards per catch on a frosty night inside War Memorial Stadium.
This fall, the Cowboys nearly dodged a bullet.
McBride, who is on the Mackey Award watch list as one of the nation's top tight ends, announced he was entering the transfer portal in late August. The junior had two years of eligibility left. He was leaving Fort Collins.
Less than a week later, McBride posted this on Twitter:
The Fort Morgan product decided to stay.
That was great news for CSU faithful. The rest of the conference most likely didn't share that same opinion.
McBride will be on the field at Canvas Stadium this Thursday night. Now, the question is: who will cover him?
This week's Mountain West defensive Player of the Week isn't shying away from the challenge. That guy is Cowboys' outside linebacker Charles Hicks.
"We all know that’s going to be an NFL tight end one day," Hicks said of McBride on Monday. "I feel like, for us, that’s a great challenge."
Hicks is a 6-foot, 3-inch, 228-pound speedster on the Pokes' young defense. Last week, Hicks racked up a pair of sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception in a lopsided 31-7 home win over Hawaii.
Hicks also mentioned practicing against UW's tight ends -- 6-foot, 7-inch Jackson Marcotte and Nate Weinman -- is preparation for matchups like this.
Hicks will see plenty of No. 85, but he won't be alone.
Blankenbaker suffered a hamstring injury and his status is unknown, but what we do know is safety Esaias Gandy will also be tasked with slowing down McBride. Same goes for Keonte Glinton and Braden Smith.
It will be a team effort.
"That is a big-time matchup," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said about lining up against McBride. "He runs well, posses ball skills, is a physical blocker and a great route runner. We think he has a bright future in the NFL. He will pose a major problem for us."
Chad Muma, the Cowboys' starting inside linebacker, agrees.
"He's a very good tight end," Muma said. "He's very experienced and can do it all ... We were talking about it as a defense corps. They go to him a lot. We just need to pick up on those keys and play together as a defense to stop that."
Dating back to last November, McBride had posted back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. He caught nine balls for 101 yards and a score in a season-ending loss to Boise State.
There were also the games where McBride was a non-factor.
He finished with just one catch in back-to-back losses to Utah State and San Diego State in 2019. He reeled in three catches or less in seven of the Rams' 12 games.
That seems to be a thing of the past.
Over his final four games, the junior has averaged 93.8 yards receiving and more than seven catches per outing.
A back surgery nearly derailed Toby McBride's career. Trey's older brother told the media Monday that he thought about retiring from the game. Instead, he had a meeting with Addazio. There, he asked if winning rivalry games was important to the new staff in Fort Collins.
Apparently, he liked the answer.
He was sticking around. Maybe that's where the change of heart in that Tweet came in from little bro?
"It's part of the reason I came back," Toby McBride said. "I've never won a rivalry game here."
Thursday, the McBride brothers will look to do just that. Wyoming has won four in a row in the series.
"To be honest, it means everything," he added.