Colorado State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

Colorado State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

Colorado State

Colorado State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice


Colorado State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

The Rams had a trying 2022, so addressing a few big issues this spring could help them take a big leap forward in the fall.

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Taking the next step starts now.

The Colorado State Rams began spring football practices yesterday with the aim of building upon the potential they flashed throughout last season. It wasn’t always pretty, but Jay Norvell’s team demonstrated, at a minimum, they should have one of the Mountain West’s top quarterback-receiver connections, a solid running game, and a very promising secondary. Plenty of work remains, though.

How much can the offensive line improve?

When he had time to throw, Clay Millen looked very much capable of living up to the hype which brought him from Nevada to Fort Collins with Jay Norvell. The problem in 2022 was that he rarely had that: His average depth of throw was only 7.7 yards because the Rams offensive line allowed a sack rate of 15.7%, the worst mark in the country.

Are they back to square one in the trenches, though? Pro Football Focus notes that seven players had at least 100 snaps up front last season, but just two — Jacob Gardner and Keegan Hamilton — are listed on the current spring football roster. Brian Crespo-Jaquez’s return to health will help after an injury wiped out nearly all of his first year as a starter, so center and both tackle spots look like they should be in at least reasonable shape.

With plenty of spots on the two-deep up for grabs, though, a number of other players could push for a starting gig with a strong spring. After all, the team brought in ten new offensive linemen as part of their most recent recruiting class and some, like Drew Moss and Oliver Jervis, bring prior starting experience from the FCS level to the roster. It’s no secret that this, more than anything, will be the key to CSU’s success in 2023.

Who will step up and help improve the pass rush?

It took a little while to come around, but defensive coordinator Freddie Banks pieced together a respectable pass rush by the end of the 2022 campaign. The Rams had 11 of their 24 team sacks in four November games and finished with a 5.8% sack rate but now, with CJ Onyechi’s departure, the task turns to how they’ll bolster that element of the defense around Mohamed Kamara.

The hope is that last year’s growing pains will lead to better results from the younger veterans up front, most notably Grady Kelly and Mukendi Wa-Kalonji. Senior reinforcements like Troy Golden, James Mitchell, and Cam Bariteau are all back, too, so the hope is surely that iron will sharpen iron on both sides of the ball here.

How much improvement can be made on special teams?

If you wanted to know how much difference a literal punt god could make, the answer is 11.8 yards. That’s the difference between Ryan Stonehouse’s yards per punt (50.91) from 2021 and Paddy Turner’s (39.11) from last season, the latter of which ranked dead last in the Mountain West.

The Rams’ special team woes in the kicking game weren’t as outright disastrous as they sometimes were in 2021 — remember the Utah State game? — but Michael Boyle only made 10-of-13 field goals overall and CSU is starting over at that position, too, with three options on the current roster to replace him. Whether it’s Henry Katleman, Ashton Wolff, or Bryan Hansen who emerges from the competition, expectations should be higher for the new kicker to produce.



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