If the CSU football team is to improve on a disappointing 3-9 record a season ago, they must shore up a defense that gave up a staggering 34.7 points per game.
And the weakest point of that unit was a defensive line that allowed just under 200 rush yards a game.
The task of improving those numbers is difficult when you consider that the Rams defensive line will be without Guy Miller, an all-conference performer a year ago in his senior season.
But rather than try to find a version of Miller 2.0 CSU will look to throw as many bodies as possible at opposing offenses.
â€œIâ€™d like to play a lot of guys. As many as eight or more,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œWeâ€™re still figuring out a rotation. I think weâ€™ve got guys that need to come on a little bit, but I think weâ€™ve got a chance to be pretty good (on the defensive line).â€
The Rams return five defensive linemen that played in nine or more games and had 10 or more tackles last season. One of those, Crockett Gillmore, may not factor in on the defensive side of the ball after being switched to tight end recently.
One player that has been coming on in camp is Nordly Capi. The sophomore can play both inside and outside on the line and has been playing with the first-team defense at times in camp.
â€œAt d-line, pushing the o-line you get pretty winded after like four or five plays,â€ Capi said. â€œWe try and stay conditioned, but itâ€™s good to have that depth.â€
During a scrimmage Saturday at Hughes Stadium, Capi had three tackles and two forced fumbles.
Along with Capi, senior Nuku Latu and redshirt freshman John Froland will see time on the interior of the line. On the outside, juniors C.J. James and Broderick Sargent will likely start, while junior Davis Burl will also receive playing time.
James is looking to regain the form that saw him become an impact player his redshirt freshman season. A year ago he was limited after missing the first three games of the season with a knee injury.
â€œIâ€™m just trying to be the best defensive end I can be for this team and in this conference,â€ James said. â€œI want to put my stamp as a playmaker for this team.â€
The rest of the rotation may be filled out in the fall when incoming freshmen join the fray.
CSU gained commitments from three defensive linemen in its 2011 class.
Justin Hansen, from Longmont, played both offensive and defensive line and was rated the stateâ€™s 11th prospect by Rivals.com. Joe Kawulok will be the third of four brothers to play at CSU and was rated the No. 10 player in Colorado by the Denver Post. Isiah Norton is a highly rated defensive tackle out of Texas. He received offers from schools such as Arizona State, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oregon before committing to CSU.
Football Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.