Kevin Lytle the Colorado State beat writer for The Coloradoan was kind enough to collaborate with me on a set of 5 questions about Utah State’s sixth opponent of the 2023 season. The Aggies face the Colorado State Rams at home for the second Mountain West Conference matchup of the year for Utah State and the Aggies second Mountain Division matchup, where the Aggies are battling to win their second straight game. Huge shout out to Kevin for joining me this week!!
Redshirt freshman Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi made his first collegiate start three weeks ago against the University of Colorado and a week ago he threw for 462 yards and four touchdowns during the Rams 41-20 win over Utah Tech. Talk about the progression of the young quarterback and describe what he brings to the offense as the field general.
Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi has opened up the offense to make it look like an actual Air Raid after CSU struggled in the first 13 games under Jay Norvell to move the ball. He’s aggressive making throws downfield, releases the ball quickly, and has provided a confidence boost to the offense. He does have too many turnovers, but that’s part of the growing pains that come with a young QB.
Senior wide receiver Tony Horton leads the Rams with 45 receptions for 540 yards and 6 touchdowns. Junior byu transfer tight end Dallin Holker comes in second with 26 receptions for 362 yards and 5 touchdowns. Talk about the importance of each player as a piece of the overall offensive scheme but perhaps more importantly describe how Holker has been able to carry on the tradition of the Rams using the tight end as a weapon in the passing game.
Horton is simply the best offensive player in the Mountain West and one of the top receivers in the nation. Holker has really helped open up the offense. A year ago CSU didn’t have options over the middle for key plays or third-down conversions. He’s doing that and relieving pressure on Horton.
Through four games, Colorado State has allowed just five sacks. In 2022, through four games, they allowed 25. With Monmouth graduate transfer senior left guard Oliver Jervis (28 career starts), Nevada graduate senior right guard Andrew Cannon (4 career starts), senior center Jacob Gardner (37 career starts), junior Lamar transfer right tackle Drew Moss (26 career starts), and Lane College junior transfer left tackle Saveyon Henderson (4 career starts/20 D-2 starts), the Rams have a very experience laden front five. Talk about the transformation that the offensive line has undergone that has led to such success in protecting the Rams quarterbacks in 2023.
The offensive line was rebuilt and has mostly been good. Fowler-Nicolosi gets the ball out faster than Clay Millen did and the group has been good in pass-blocking against a variety of defenses. They need to get better in run-blocking, but overall it’s been a huge growth.
Graduate senior defensive end Mohamed Kamara (24 career starts/41 games) already has 6.5 sacks this season to go along with 18 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss. What aspect of Kamara’s game has made him such a successful pass rusher?
Kamara is relentless. He’s fast off the ball and does not take plays off. If he gets a one-on-one matchup he wins it. He is by far CSU’s best and most important defensive player.
Senior safety Henry Blackburn (21 career starts) has 26 tackles and 1 interception and junior safety Jack Howell (20 career starts) has 37 tackles and 1 interception are a pair of local boys that man the Rams defensive backfield. Talk about how important both are to what the Rams do defensively but also how important both are in the community with them being in-state products.
They’re both leaders on and off the field and, as you say, important in the community. Both are good public speakers and respected faces of the program. Howell is a legacy kid whose dad was a star at CSU and is a hugely popular player among fans. They’re very important to CSU on and off the field.