Analysis

BOBCAT SPRING BALL NOTEBOOK: observations from first padded practice under Vigen

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BOZEMAN, Montana — Upon walking into Bobcat Stadium on Saturday, the first position group Skyline Sports saw after more than a year of not watching any sort of Montana State practice was the MSU linebackers.

And of course, now that he is working with the group full time, MSU senior captain and All-American candidate Troy Andersen is the first player we noticed.

Andersen donned a helmet and pads but not full leg pads or pants on a day the majority of the Bobcats wore full pads for the first time this spring. He appeared at the same time ripped and thin, certainly an anomaly for a player listed at 6-foot-4, 237 pounds. Andersen is expected to move to weak-side linebacker this season and play Will in MSU’s revamped 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks.

Saturday, the Dillon native participated in individual drills but did not participate in the full-contact team portions of the practice that included scrimmage-like elements. Andersen moved decently well but is still clearly hindered from the knee surgery he had during a beyond strange off-season. Andersen’s initial procedure got re-routed because of an avalanche and then delayed all together when the pandemic hit.

Andersen also sported a large black brace on his right knee on Saturday.

“I know everyone wants to know Troy’s progress,” Montana State first-year head coach Vigen said. “Troy is getting reps mentally and in controlled settings. I really like his progress.”

Montana State’s practices the next month leading up to the Sonny Holland spring game at Bobcat Stadium on April 24 will likely be difficult to fully evaluate. Vigen is taking over for a head coach in Jeff Choate who abruptly left during a bizarre year that kept Montana State almost completely off the field from December of 2019 until March of 2021.

The Bobcats are flush with talent but much of that talent will have light practice loads with occasional days off over the next month. Andersen did not participate in the team portions of Saturday’s practice. Junior running back Isaiah Ifanse, who when healthy is one of the best running backs in the country, did not practice Saturday. Senior defensive tackle Chase Benson, a senior All-American candidate who Vigen said “is going to be just as formidable in a four-man front as he was in a three-man front”, did not practice on Saturday.

Others who did not participate on Saturday included: defensive linemen junior Byron Rollins and Tyson Regimbal along with freshmen Brody Grebe and Trey Yates.

Others who were limited included: junior wide receiver Tyrone Marshall and senior offensive lineman Taylor Tuiasosopo, who dinged his shoulder and did not return.

Freshman running back/linebacker Jaharie Martin was not in attendance because he was attending a wedding back home in Florida.

Montana State sports information also included the retirement of John Clark, a graduate transfer defensive tackle who previously played at Washington, and Chacho Ulloa, a graduate transfer safety who previously played at Arizona.

Jacob Hadley, a talented but often injured player from Billings who moved around to several different positions, has retired, as has linebacker Chad Kanow.

Montana State will practice nine more times, including scrimmages each of the next two Saturdays leading up to the Sonny Holland spring game on April 24.

BOZEMAN, Montana — Upon walking into Bobcat Stadium on
Saturday, the first position group Skyline Sports saw after more than a
year of not watching any sort of Montana State practice was the MSU linebackers.

And of course, now that he is working with the group full
time, MSU senior captain and All-American candidate Troy Andersen is the first
player we noticed.

Andersen donned a helmet and pads but not full leg pads or
pants on a day the majority of the Bobcats wore full pads for the first time
this spring. He appeared at the same time ripped and thin, certainly an anomaly
for a player listed at 6-foot-4, 237 pounds. Andersen is expected to move to
weak-side linebacker this season and play Will in MSU’s revamped 4-3 scheme
under new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks.

Saturday, the Dillon native participated in individual drills but did not
participate in the full-contact team portions of the practice that included
scrimmage-like elements. Andersen moved decently well but is still clearly
hindered from the knee surgery he had during a beyond strange off-season.
Andersen’s initial procedure got re-routed because of an avalanche and then
delayed all together when the pandemic hit.

Andersen also sported a large black brace on his right knee
on Saturday.

“I know everyone wants to know Troy’s progress,” Montana
State first-year head coach Vigen said. “Troy is getting reps mentally and in
controlled settings. I really like his progress.”

Montana State’s
practices the next month leading up
to the Sonny Holland spring game at
Bobcat Stadium on April 24 will likely be difficult to fully evaluate. Vigen is
taking over for a head coach in Jeff Choate who abruptly left during a bizarre
year that kept Montana State almost completely off the field from December of
2019 until March of 2021.

The Bobcats are flush with talent but much of that talent
will have light practice loads with occasional days off over the next month.
Andersen did not participate in the team portions of Saturday’s practice. Junior
running back Isaiah Ifanse, who when healthy is one of the best running backs
in the country, did not practice Saturday. Senior defensive tackle Chase
Benson, a senior All-American candidate who Vigen said “is going to be just as
formidable in a four-man front as he was in a three-man front”, did not
practice on Saturday.

Others who did not participate on Saturday included:
defensive linemen junior Byron Rollins and Tyson Regimbal along with freshmen
Brody Grebe and Trey Yates.

Others who were limited included: junior wide receiver
Tyrone Marshall and senior offensive lineman Taylor Tuiasosopo, who dinged his
shoulder and did not return.

Freshman running back/linebacker Jaharie Martin was not in
attendance because he was attending a wedding back home in Florida.

Montana State sports information also included the
retirement of John Clark, a graduate transfer defensive tackle who previously
played at Washington, and Chacho Ulloa, a graduate transfer safety who
previously played at Arizona.

Jacob Hadley, a talented but often injured player from
Billings who moved around to several different positions, has retired, as has
linebacker Chad Kanow.

Montana State will practice nine more times, including
scrimmages each of the next two Saturdays leading up to the Sonny Holland
spring game on April 24.

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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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