BOZEMAN, Montana – As practice reps and soreness both accumulate, Montana State head coach Jeff Choate saw plenty to like during his team’s second day of practice.
“I was proud of our guys,” Choate said. “I thought they came back pretty good. The reps are starting to pile up and I was getting after them at the end about taking care of their bodies – that’s so crucial the first five or six days, then it starts to level out and they get into football shape – but I thought they had a good exchange.”
Choate saw detail work, getting in and out of huddles and playcalling, emerge as an area of emphasis. Choate has expressed a level of comfort with a coaching staff that now has been together for the better part of three seasons, leading to splitting fields and doubling the amount of reps. 1s & 2s on the near field, 3s & 4s in the middle running multiple huddles and a firestorm approach to team sessions.
“On offense, our operation right now (needs to improve),” he said. “We’re splitting into two groups and not all the coaches are there, so we need guys to take charge. We shouldn’t have guys milling around behind the huddle, everybody should be with the play-caller, so our operation, in and out, is what we need to improve offensively.”
A trademark of Choate practice have been plenty of teaching periods with high intensity team reps in between. All players regardless of position work drills involving turnover circuits, tackling fundamentals and special teams.
Montana State currently has seven Division I FBS drop downs, hailing from the Pac 12 (2), Mountain West (2), Big 10 (1), SEC (1) & ACC (1). Players hailing from Florida to Hawaii, Alaska to Virginia come together with different background and experience levels. Regardless, there is an understanding among players that contributions in every aspect of the game will be expected by Choate.
“It’s a lot easier than where I came from,” said Virginia Tech transfer safety Jahcque Alleyne. “It’s definitely up tempo still, jogging from one field to the next field then right back. You kind of get tired after awhile.”
“You finish a whole rep of 7-on-7 and then they call “Special Teams,” you got to go all the way down there and there’s no walking, so I can’t get away with that (laughs).”
Turnovers and three-and-outs remains the defensive priority. In 2017, MSU finished 11th in the Big Sky in interceptions, 8th in sacks and 12th in opponents 3rd down conversions.
“On defense, it comes down to the missed opportunities,” he said. “We had opportunities to take the ball away or get off the field and we’re not taking advantage of those. I thought the energy was good, I like the execution, we’re getting some wrinkles in. It’s going to be a while before it’s perfect, but as long as our effort’s good we’ve got a chance.”
Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.