Skyline Sports is attending the Montana Football Hall of Fame 2018 induction ceremony in Billings, Montana on March 24. After attending a spirited scrimmage, Skyline Sports produced a press conference video and podcast of the scrimmage found here (video) & (podcast). A long form written recap will be published on Sunday morning.
If familiarity can breed contempt, it can also bring comfort. That was the case in Montana State’s first scrimmage of spring on Saturday in blustery Bobcat Stadium.
Junior quarterback Chris Murray ran for 28 yards and threw for 115, including 66 yards to classmate Kevin Kassis. That duo, going into its third season next fall, connected for two touchdowns.
“Those two guys have played a lot of football together,” said Bobcat coach Jeff Choate. “Both those guys played as true freshmen and I think they’ve grown and developed some chemistry together. I’ve said this, when the game is on the line think player not play, go to the guys you’re most comfortable with, and Chris and Kevin have a really good chemistry together.”
Choate was impressed with the continued development of Murray, who enters his third season entrenched as the team’s starting quarterback. “Chris is a pretty good player, he’s able to make some things happen with the ball in his hands, but I also thought he pushed the ball down the field vertically. He had a couple drops, but I thought the ball was in good spots. I’m very pleased with what he did.”
The Bobcat offense showed off a pair of new weapons in the run game on Saturday. Transfer running back Tyler Natee gained 36 yards, while converted receiver Karl Tucker II, a junior, gained 24. “Our run game stuff is kind of what we do, it’s our DNA,” he said. “I’m really impressed with Coy Steel, I thought he made some plays with the twos that showed up a little bit. Willie Patterson’s been having a really good spring so far and he showed up a little bit on offense as well, so I was pleased with that.”
Montana State’s offense accounted for six touchdowns and a field goal in Saturday’s scrimmage, which mixed live segments with red zone and two-minute situations. “Usually the defense is going to be a little bit ahead of the offense at this time of the spring,” Choate said. “I saw a little of that, but I thought the offense made some plays at time, so I was pleased with that.”
Choate was also pleased with the work of his team’s defense. “We got a lot of good work in defensively,” he said. “I thought (transfer defensive end) Bryce Sterk did a nice job showing up on defense, and Troy (Andersen, a sophomore linebacker) on the edge (presents the offense) a problem. I like those two young corners, Jalen (Cole) and Tyrel (Thomas), I think those two are very competitive guys. Even when the offense made some plays I think those two were very competitive.”
One of the defense’s stated goals in the off-season was to apply more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and Choate likes the steps made toward that end. “We’ve got a really veteran group on the defensive line when you throw Tyrone (Fa’anono) and Zach (Wright) and Tucker (Yates) in there, Bryce is a new guy on the edge and obviously the speed and quickness and agility and athleticism Troy brings. That was a point of emphasis for us, improving the pass rush, and I think we’ve got some guys that can do that.”
Defensive coordinator saw much to like, along with areas to improve, on Saturday. “I thought it was a good exchange with the offense making some plays and (the defense) making a few as well,” he said. “I didn’t think we finished as well in the red zone as we should have, but we were good in two-minute situations and I thought we pressured the quarterback well. There were lots of positives but a ton to clean up and improve on.”
At the end of the day, Choate said his team got out of its first live session of the spring what he hoped for. “I thought our guys had really good energy, kind of what you’d expect for a first scrimmage. That’s what you look for – good verbal combat, good competition, and we got out of here healthy today.”
The Cats practice again Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 am.
Press release courtesy of Bill Lamberty – Montana State Sports Information. Photos by Brooks Nuanez.
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Kevin Kassis 15- yard reception from Chris Murray
Kevin Kassis 24-yard reception from Chris Murray
Willie Patterson 11-yard run
Coy Steel 25-yard run
Coy Steel 25-yard reception from Tucker Rovig
Tristan Bailey 37-yard field goal
Chris Murray 6 yard run
Rushing: Tucker Rovig 10- -25-0, Tyler Natee 7-36-0, Chris Murray 10-28-1, Karl Tucker II 3-24-0, Logan Jones 3-7-0, Willie Patterson 2-15-1, Coy Steel 1-25-1.
Passing: Chris Murray 11-20-0, 115 yards, 2 TD; Tucker Rovig 3-8-0, 33, 1 TD
Receiving: Connor Sullivan 1-1; Wilson Brott 1-5; Kevin Kassis 6-66-2; Willie Patterson 2-10; Karl Tucker 1-33; Kapili Livingston-Lopez 1-3; Lance McCutcheon 1-5; Coy Steel 1-25-1.
Sacks: Chad Kanow; Bryce Barker (2), Tyrone Fa’anono (2), Zach Wright, Bryce Sterk, Troy Andersen, Kyle Finch.
Tackles for loss: Elu Leota, No. 45, Tucker Yates.
Pass breakups: Bryce Barker, Tyrel Thomas