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Young, aggressive cornerbacks help diversify Bobcat defense


BOZEMAN — With an efficient and competitive field general moving the sticks, a bruising running back with top-notch vision softening the pocket and a world-class athlete stretching the field, the 2011 Bobcats moved the ball up and down the field with a balanced attack that sparked Montana State to a second straight Big Sky Conference championship.

In 2012, quarterback DeNarius McGhee returned to earn his second Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year award in three seasons and Cody Kirk returned as a 1,000-yard rusher. Although burner wide receiver Elvis Akpla graduated, the Bobcats still had steady possession pass catcher Tanner Bleskin.

Each of Montana State’s last two league championship seasons ended against the same foe. For two straight years in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs, Sam Houston State’s spread option offense, but more importantly, the Bearkats’ long, lean and smothering defense harnessed the Bobcats.

Defensive backs like Daxton Swanson and Darnell Taylor used their length and physicality to smother Akpla and Bleskin at the line of scrimmage. The man coverage scheme allowed the Bearkats to blitz aggressively and stack the box, in turn bottling up Kirk and Tray Robinson, rendering the Bobcat offense stagnant in a pair of season-ending playoff losses.

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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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