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Rams to go for Utah sweep against USU

Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
Colorado State University football players push against Utah Tech University’s defense Sept. 30. CSU won 41-20.

There’s a lot to be excited about when looking at Colorado State football. For the first time since Mike Bobo was the head coach in 2017, the team is 2-2, and saying the team might get to the six-win threshold to be bowl eligible doesn’t seem like a ludicrous take. 

When you think of a team’s era, oftentimes, it’s prefaced with a long-tenured head coach and a lot of success from that program. Take CSU volleyball and Tom Hilbert, for example. 


With the Rams seemingly finding their answer to the question of quarterback in redshirt freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi — who was named Mountain West Freshman of the Week — it begs the question: Could the Jay Norvell era be on the horizon for the Rams?

While that won’t be answered this week or maybe even this year, the Rams are keeping their eyes on the challenge ahead. This week, it’s Utah State.

“I think we played four preseason games, and we’ve shown that we’re capable of doing some good things when we focus and prepare the right way,” Norvell said. “We’re capable (of making a bowl game) absolutely, but we have to make the next step.”


The expectation for the Rams prior to the beginning of the season wasn’t the best overall offense in the Mountain West, but four games into the season, that’s where they sit. 

“Practice is a big thing,” wide receiver Dylan Goffney said. “If you have confidence in practice, it carries into the game as well.”

It’s come largely in part to their passing game and standouts Tory Horton and Dallin Holker. Horton already has 540 yards and six touchdowns in his four games played. With eight games left, he’s on track to smash his production from last season, a season that landed him on the All-MW First Team

Prior to CSU, Holker had three touchdowns in his career. This season, he’s already scored five times and has added 362 yards through the air. 

Holker has required multiple defenders to have a chance at bringing him down this season and has been a monster after the catch. 

Although the passing game has been carrying the Rams this season, seemingly unstoppable, the one downside to the offense has been the run game. 


While the Rams have struggled with health in the backfield, they’re still struggling, something that hasn’t changed from last year when they were the worst in the MW.

The Rams hope that Kobe Johnson, who boasts a woeful 2.7 yards per carry and missed last week, can help them get the running game going this week. 

“We think we’re going to have a good running game,” Norvell said. “We think we have good running back. … I’m not concerned about it; once we can start getting our running game to produce explosive plays, then we’ll really have something on offense.”

Watch: The Play Calling 

Horton to Holker, a fake field goal and a reverse flea flicker. All of these trick plays have been called in consecutive weeks. Norvell and his staff have seemingly dialed up something interesting every week, and why not do it again in their first conference game? Keep an eye out for the trickery on Saturday. 


There might only be one way to beat the rumbling Rams offense, and that might be to outscore them. 

A year ago, the defense was the one bright spot for the Rams, but an up-and-down start to the season hasn’t seen them return to form. 

“You just have to be sound,” Norvell said. “They test you. They test your rules out on everything. They do a really good job scoring points. They’ve scored in every game, and they can play shoot-out games.”

There are some bright spots on the defense, though. Mohamed Kamara now leads the nation in sacks per game, and the run defense remains stout. 

But the Rams have been carved up through the air, something they have to fix as they look ahead to some good passing offenses in the conference slate. 

Norvell alluded to the fact that it took the defense a little bit to get going last year. Looking back at the 2022 schedule, that game was their first conference game against Nevada, where they only allowed 14 points and basically won that game for the team.

They did that again the next week against Utah State, allowing only 17 points. If the Rams defense can bolster and hold the Aggies to 17 points this week, it would likely mean CSU starting 1-0 in conference play.

“We prepare the same (for) any game,” defensive lineman Nuer Gatkuoth said. “If it’s CU or if it’s Utah Tech, we prepare the same. We try to practice the same way, just to keep everything consistent.”

In Utah State’s hard-fought, come-from-behind victory against UConn, starting quarterback McCae Hillstead was injured. Down 17 points, Cooper Legas came in and rallied for the victory. 

The defense is familiar with Lagas, who threw for 85 yards, a touchdown and an interception against the Rams a season ago. However, if Hillstead is able to go, a battle between two MW freshmen will make for an interesting game come Saturday.

Watch: The Rams pass rush 

A dominant defensive line can take over a game and force a lot of errors. A season ago, the Rams only got home once. This year, the dominant unit led by Kamara had at least three sacks in all four games this season. Not allowing a QB to get in rhythm is key, and the Rams big horned rush has done its job so far this season.

Reach Damon Cook at or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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