A Look at the Rams

Mike Brohard is the sports editor at the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, and has been covering Colorado State Rams football for six seasons. Inside, Brohard discusses the current Rams team as Colorado and Colorado State prepare for Saturday's matchup at Invesco Field in Denver.

Colorado State defeated Weber State, 30-6, at home last weekend. Kickoff for the Colorado-Colorado State game at Invesco Field is 3 p.m.

BSN: How has the team responded to the loss of Kyle Bell?
: They've taken a positive approach to the situation. They all know that losing Kyle was a huge loss, but they came out right away and said, ‘We can't let this ruin our season.'

I think the key to the whole situation is (junior quarterback) Caleb Hanie and his leadership skills. He started to take over in the spring. He let it be known he was going to be the leader in the spring, and it's carried through.

BSN: Is the leadership thing a natural part of Hanie's personality?
: Yeah. He came in and the reason he played as a true freshman when Justin Holland went down in the San Diego State game (in 2004) was Caleb was just so bright, so intelligent. As soon as he signed his letter of intent, he had a playbook and he knew it by the time he got to camp and start in fall drills. So it didn't take him any time to become the No. 2 quarterback. And I think he earned some confidence from the players even at that point. But even more so, he made it a point this spring.

BSN: Tell me about Gartrell Johnson as a runner. What style of runner is he?
: He's a tough, power runner. He doesn't have the speed that Bell has. And I think they're still trying to figure out if he has the vision that Bell has.

There weren't a lot of holes against Weber State. There were some problems up front. So you can't tag the real lack of a running game on Gartrell.

I think the jury is still out on him. But he is a tough, straight-ahead runner. He will run people over.

BSN: What about the other two guys. Are they going to rotate three backs?
: I don't know if they're going to go with a strict rotation, but all three will play. Mike Myers was a high school running back. He spent his first two years at CSU in the secondary, but he just didn't fit there. They moved him to running back this fall and he just exploded. He's got 4.4 speed. He's the quickest of the running backs that they have, and he actually showed some pretty good vision. His first college carry came from the CSU 1 yard line. In two plays he had 11 yards and they had a first down.

Then Nnamdi Ohaeri, of course, was a starter last year as they headed into the CU game. He got hurt the second play of the second quarter, had a lot of troubles with it because it was misdiagnosed twice. He had surgery in May and wasn't even supposed to be able to play this year. But he decided to give it a try. Last Wednesday they moved him from safety back to running back. They had moved him to safety because he was UCLA's starting nickel back (before transferring to CSU).

So they're a little wary of his ankle and how much they can use him, but they want to give him a chance and see what he can do.

BSN: I know there was a lot of preseason buzz about the CSU receivers being maybe the best they've ever had as a group. Do you think it's going to end up being that way?
: As a group, yes. They're very diverse, and they might just be the best group they've ever had. I don't know that you'll see a David Anderson come out of it, but that's the beauty of their system right now.

Hanie is spreading the ball around. He's going to use Kory Sperry, the tight end. They've got some deep threats with Damon Morton and Dustin Osborn, though he's got an ankle sprain right now. He's quicker than people think. Johnny Walker is good a shaking people. They're thrilled with what they saw from their receivers in the first game.

BSN: CSU set some school records for allowing the lowest total yards and lowest rushing yards against Weber State. How significant is that given the competition?
: I think the most significant part of what happened against Weber State was they got confidence. They talked about stopping the run all spring and then in fall camp. And then they came out and did it. Now they know it's not the biggest, toughest team they're going to face. They know this is going to be more of a real task (vs. CU). But at least they have some validation toward the work that they put in to improve in that area.

BSN: CSU's got a pretty good punter in Jimmie Kaylor. How big a role do you think he'll play in this game on Saturday?
: Punters I think sometimes are overlooked. But they can change field position. Kaylor can definitely do that. He only punted once against Weber State. But he can change field position, so he can play as big a role in that part of the game, just as much as Mason Crosby can scare CSU when CU hits the 45.

BSN: After Colorado's loss to Montana State, is there any buzz around Fort Collins about what they think CU's mindset is going to be coming into the game?
: The fan base, of course, is thrilled CU lost. The players do not take that loss by CU seriously. They think it was a blip, an aberration. They expect to see a much better team, a riled up team, coming into this game. They're just not buying it.

To read stories by Mike Brohard, follow this link: Reporter-Herald Online

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