Three Questions for Spring Practice

A new era is dawning in Fort Collins, but what must the Rams do to completely turn the page and get back to competing for a division crown?

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Green and gold are back in business.

After Steve Addazio ran into a Canvas Stadium tunnel in last season’s final, never come backthe Colorado State Rams wasted no time in dusting themselves off and reaffirming their commitment to winning, bringing in Nevada head coach Jay Norvell and then watching him bring in a host of coaches and Reno players in return.

Needless to say, optimism in Fort Collins is flowing as freely as the city’s microbreweries these days, but there’s work to be done to get the new “Fort Air Raid” rolling.

Can Norvell and Matt Mumme identify and develop the next Carson Strong?

For all the talent the Rams have brought in through the transfer portal and Norvell’s premier recruiting class, the only big question on offense is who will be under center when the season begins in September. Jay Norvell inherited Ty Gangi when he became Nevada head coach, but he won’t have that kind of luxury here: There are options, but not all of them are proven.

Redshirt freshman Clay Millen made the jump with Norvell from Reno to Fort Collins and the assumption is he’ll at least have plenty of runway to sink or swim during spring training. The five options on the current roster are either redshirt freshmen or actual freshmen, and only one, Evan Olaes, has any kind of field experience. If #FortAirRaid is to get off the ground ASAP, one or two members of this group will need to prove they can handle the learning curve.

What will the defensive line look like?

One thing that has worked for the Rams in 2021 has been their fierce play along the defensive line, but that’s another area where Norvell and defensive coordinator Freddie Banks will have to start over. Of last year’s top contributors, only Devin Phillips returns.

Unlike the quarterback, however, Colorado State brought in transfer gate reinforcements with a track record of success. CJ Onyechi (Rutgers) did a bit more than Teivis Tuioti (Nevada), but experienced hands could have an edge over youngsters who played only sparingly last year like James Mitchell and Cam Bariteau .

Is Paddy Turner ready to replace Ryan Stonehouse?

It’s not every day that a player has to replace an NCAA career record holder, but that’s exactly the situation Australia’s Turner now finds himself in, who also followed Norvell from Nevada to the State of Colorado. It’s unrealistic to expect him to go out and average 47.8 yards per punt like Stonehouse did in his decorated career, but you have to think that a spring performance too lackluster could force the Rams to find someone else and open up the competition, adding one more hurdle to rebuilding.


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