Adjustments continue as Bobcats search for offensive identity


BOZEMAN — Chris Murray started just five games as a true freshman, yet the electrifying quarterback still flirted with 1,000 yards rushing in earning Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2016.

Last season, Murray finished second in the league in rushing with 1,124 yards, the second-most in the history of the league for a quarterback.

Montana State’s offense has centered upon the quarterback run game since Murray took over under center against Weber State midway through Jeff Choate’s first season as head coach. Murray’s ability to scramble and extend plays certainly boosted production but his wizardry with the football in the zone-read option game, his ability to press the edge before making a decision and his omnipresent threat to hit a home run stressed opposing defenses consistently in his 17 games as MSU’s starting quarterback.

The ball dominance of the quarterback ramped up even one more notch in Troy Andersen’s first start to kick off the 2018 season. He kept the ball on a variety of zone read option plays, amassing 26 carries and rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in MSU’s gutsy 26-23 victory over Western Illinois on August 30.

But Andersen suffered a left hand injury that required surgery. He was on a snap count at a variety of positions other than quarterback last week in MSU’s 45-14 loss at No. 3 South Dakota State.

The Montana State offense struggled to move the sticks with redshirt freshman Tucker Rovig making his first career start. Part of a stagnant first half stemmed from operation and communication being disjointed with a first-time signal caller running the huddle. Part came from a collection of dropped passes by Montana State’s receivers. And part of the sputtering attack — MSU managed just one first down in the first half and just six overall — came from an entire offensive unit built around running gunslingers having to adjust to a more traditional quarterback.

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Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved. 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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