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Colorado State loses a frustrating game against Utah State — the Rams have to clean things up

Justin Michael Avatar
October 16, 2022

The frustration was palpable during the postgame media session Saturday night. 

After dropping a winnable game against Utah State on Homecoming weekend, Colorado State’s fourth consecutive loss to the Aggies, Jay Norvell talked about how the Rams are simply not good enough to get away with committing so many penalties.

“We’re just a team that doesn’t have a margin for error right now,” Norvell said. “We have to play smart football.” 

CSU was flagged 10 times for 90 yards in the 17-13 loss and while the Rams still had a chance to drive down the field and go for the win late in the fourth quarter, the infractions were momentum killers all night long. Holding calls, false starts, illegal formations, etc, CSU repeatedly shot itself in the foot and it’s a shame because the game was there for the taking. 

“Some of the penalties really put us behind the 8-ball,” Norvell said. 

The Colorado State football team takes the field before the Rams game against Utah State Aggies at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

It’s been a unique season for CSU this season to say the least. Due to injuries and roster turnover the Rams have had very little continuity within their lineup from week to week. And with the Rams now relying on so many inexperienced players, the results have been a mixed bag in terms of execution. 

While it is fair to say that there have been many extenuating circumstances for the program this fall and it’s not shocking that playing this many freshmen has been frustrating at times, as Norvell and the players both explained after the loss Saturday night, the Rams have to play with more discipline. 

“You just gotta be dialed in and you’ve got to know the situation,” Avery Morrow said. “We’ve had a lot of unsportsmanlike conducts, you know, we’ve got to keep our composure. A lot of (false starts) on offense, we’ve got to get better with the snap count. We don’t know why it keeps happening but we just have got to get better.” 

As frustrating as the penalties were in this one, CSU’s inability to get anything going in the passing game was a major issue for the second straight week. Giles Pooler did look more comfortable in the pocket than Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi did against Nevada and was able to deliver a couple of nice balls in the intermediate passing game as a result. He did a pretty good job of valuing possessions by not trying to force things as well. 

Conversely, Pooler’s lack of mobility made it hard for him to escape when things broke down. The offense just never seemed to be in sync for more than a couple of minutes at a time. And when the game was on the line, Pooler overthrew Tory Horton which resulted in an untimely interception. 

Ultimately it would be unfair to throw Pooler under the bus. There were quite a few drops and it’s not like the penalties were on him. That said, after what we’ve seen out of the passing game over the last two weeks, it’s safe to say that there is no quarterback controversy in Fort Collins. 

“Giles played his first start tonight and did some really good things, but we’ve got to continue to improve there,” Norvell said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t find a way to close this one out because it was certainly a game that we could have won.” 

While the loss was definitely a bummer, the silver lining was that the defense once again played lights out and gave the offense an opportunity to win. The pressure that the Rams were able to generate was really encouraging, as was the play in the secondary. CSU finished +1 in the turnover margin as well— +2 if you count the blocked punt by WR Dane Olson.

If the defense continues to play like this the Rams are going to be competitive in most matchups. At the moment it’s just a matter of figuring out how to work through the struggles and producing more points offensively. 

CSU hosts a bad Hawaii team at Canvas Stadium next Saturday, so we’ll see if they can add another one to the win column after finally snapping what was the nation’s longest losing streak in Reno, NV. If they want to avoid the same frustration that they felt in the locker room tonight though, the Rams have got to first stop beating themselves with penalties, mental lapses and preventable errors in execution. 


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