Montana State Bobcats’ offense out-shines defense in 1st scrimmage

(Editor’s note: Montana State University media release)

BOZEMAN, Montana – Troy Andersen and Travis Jonsen each posted solid numbers at multiple positions and the defense showed productivity during Montana State’s first scrimmage of the fall, but third-year head coach Jeff Choate was most pleased by something else entirely.

“I’d say probably the biggest takeaway is that this is easily the most mature team I’ve had,” Choate said after his team’s 86-play scrimmage that culminated a nine-day, camp-opening stretch of practices. “And that’s not saying we didn’t have good leaders or individuals that handled things in a mature fashion in the past, I just think collectively this group gets it more and I think there’s a bigger comfort level coach-to-player and even coach-to-coach.”

Choate characterized the session as “a good give-and-take. The defense got after them at times, but the offense was able to move the ball. We still have some operational things we need to clean up, but for being one week into camp I feel pretty good about things.”

Montana State’s first offensive unit marched 65 yards in 14 plays to open the scrimmage. Tyler Natee plowed into the end zone from one yard out. Andersen completed four of his five pass attempts for 26 yards on the drive, chalking up another seven on the ground. He finished the day with 16 yards rushing on six carries, throwing for 26 yards (4-for-6, no touchdowns or interceptions).

“The biggest bright spot for us offensively was in our first ones-versus-ones (the offense) basically went on a 13-, 14-play drive down the field, very efficient, was able to score, put the ball in the end zone,” Choate said. “That was a real positive. I thought there were some times in the red zone section where Troy and Travis on the field together at the same time in a variety of different spots was really a problem for the defense.”

Choate was pleased with how his offensive unit functioned for most of the afternoon. “I think we were able to use tempo effectively and operate that fairly cleanly,” he said. “I thought our communication was good between coaches and players, for me that’s one of the biggest things I pay attention to, are they keeping their poise and getting the next call in and things of that nature. I thought it was good.”

The Bobcat defense logged four sacks – one each by Marcus Ferriter, Derek Marks, Nolan Askelson and Seer Deines – and two other tackles-for-loss. The day’s only turnover was a fumble forced by Keaton Anderson. Choate gave the defense’s effort mixed reviews.

“I thought we were a little sluggish. I really did. I didn’t think we played with the type of physicality that I want to see and Ty wants to see from that group,” he said. “They swelled up and did some nice things in the red zone, but they just didn’t have that spark, that energy that you want to see. I think it was the positive day for the offense in that regard, but that’s not to say that the defense didn’t do good things. I thought we got after the quarterback at times very well, flushed him out of the pocket. I thought we did some good things pass-rush-wise, would have liked to get our hands on the ball a little bit, but I think some of that credit goes to the quarterback for spotting the ball well and taking what the defense gave us.”

Still, much of the conversation continues to revolve around the quarterback position. Choate indicated that Andersen and Jonsen split reps with the ones on Saturday, while Tucker Rovig worked with the second offense. The scrimmage just completed and the week forthcoming provides the opportunity to evaluate that position competition. “We used Troy and Travis together at times, but really we were evaluating them at the quarterback position. I think there’s going to be the ability for us to truly evaluate those guys today and establish that depth chart.”

That applies to every position. “It’s really just been a seating chart at all positions up to this point in time. Now we’ve got to start to say, here’s who’s rolling with the ones, here’s who’s rolling with the twos. If you’re a three and you want to be a two, here’s what you’ve got to do. This week of camp will be about solidifying that depth chart because the following week will be time to prepare for Western (Illinois) and the season.”

SCRIMMAGE STATS

RUSHING: Lane Sumner 7-35-0, Troy Andersen 6-16-0, Tyler Natee 4-9-1, Casey Bauman 4-4-0, Tyrel Burgess 3-21-0, Travis Jonsen 3-13-1, Isaiah Ifanse 3-9-1, Shane Perry 4-22-0, Tucker Rovig 3- -2-0, Justin Cauley 3-4-0, Coy Steel 2-11-0, Ruben Beltran 1- -1-0.

PASSING: Troy Andersen 4-6-0, 26, 0; Travis Jonsen 1-4-0, 10, 0; Tucker Rovig 10-13-0, 83, 0; Casey Bauman 4-6-0, 19, 0; Ruben Beltran 2-4-0, 10, 0.

RECEIVING: Coy Steel 6-59-0, Mekhi Metcalf 4-21-0, Kevin Kassis 2-11-0, Tyrel Burgess 1-5-0, Willie Patterson 1-9-0, Wilson Brott 1-7-0, Shane Perry 1-4-0, Curtis Amos Jr. 1-6-0, Johnny D’Agostino 1-7-0, James Campbell 1-6-0, Clark Judisch 1-7-0, Peyton Hanser 1-6-0.

DEFENSIVE SPECIAL PLAYS: SACKS – Marcus Ferriter, Derek Marks, Nolan Askelson, Seer Deines (1 each). OTHER TACKLES-FOR-LOSS – Callahan O’Reilly, Bryce Barker (1 each). FORCED FUMBLE – Keaton Anderson (1)

SCORING PLAYS
Tyler Natee 1 run (Bailey)
Isaiah Ifanse 1 run (Bailey)
Jacob Byrne 30 yard field goal
Travis Jonsen 8 run (Bailey)

FIELD GOALS
Tyler Bailey: (50), (44)
Jacob Byrne: 30, (30), 30
(missed)

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