After a 3-9 season, what’s next for Jay Norvell’s football team?


Collegian | Sara Shaver

Members of the Colorado State University football team enter the field for their game against California State University, Sacramento Sept. 24. CSU lost 41-10.

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

Head coach Jay Norvell’s inaugural season with the Colorado State University football team is over. After going 3-9 on the season and 3-5 in conference play, there may be more questions now than there ever were before the season.

But there’s also more to look forward to.


The schedule

Nobody expected the Rams to go into The Big House of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and escape with a win. But what did come as a surprise was the Rams’ winless nonconference schedule, which included a loss to Football Championship Subdivision team California State University, Sacramento. Following the 0-4 start to the season, the transfer announcements came in like a flood.

As Norvell said during the Jay Norvell Coach’s Show before CSU’s first conference game against the University of Nevada, Reno, the departure of several strong starters “got a lot of nonsense” out of the program. However, the team ended up winning that game due to one of the best defensive outings of the season against Norvell’s former team.

The Rams only won two more games after that: one a come-from-behind victory against the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and the other a shutout victory against The University of New Mexico on CSU’s Senior Day. The 17-0 victory over New Mexico was the program’s first shutout since the 2016 season, when the Rams blanked California State University, Fresno 37-0.

The stars

The less-than-impressive season for the Rams had its standout moments and performances throughout the season by their best players on offense and defense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Clay Millen, who played his first full season as a starter this year, broke the all-time season completion percentage record for a freshman, completing 169 of his 234 attempts for a 72.2% mark.

Wide receiver Tory Horton received two All-Mountain West honors for his efforts on the field. Receiving for a conference-best 1,131 yards this season, he secured himself a spot on the All-Mountain West First Team for offense. He also received an honorable mention as a punt returner. His punting return average over the season was 15.5 yards, with his best moment as a returner being a 72-yard touchdown return against the University of Wyoming.

What’s next

For players and coaches alike, the conclusion of the season means back to the drawing board and, more importantly, to the recruiting board. Following the Rams’ season finale, Norvell said the biggest recruiting focus would be on the graduating seniors of the program who have not exhausted their eligibility. 

Another recruiting avenue the staff plans to take is through the offensive line. That unit was subpar this year, allowing a college football-high of 59 sacks this season. This is the one area the team has the most opportunity to build up for next season, as allowing that many sacks heavily limits offensive opportunities.

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