MSU receiver, John D'Agostino takes a pass away from a North Dakota defender (Andy Curtis/MTN Sports)

BOZEMAN — Montana State plays its second Big Sky Conference game on Saturday and the big question is where the Bobcats are after their two-point loss at home to North Dakota.

“You could say we took a step back this last week,” said head coach Jeff Choate. “We took a step back in the turnover margin. Everything else, we did better. On defense we continued to play solid against the run. We’re making them earn it. Statistically, this was one of our better games on offense, against a better defense.”

But the fact that they went from scoring 55 points the week before to 15 points last week is concerning. MSU offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham, knows the answer.

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“Getting back to what we done the last three weeks, and that’s taking care of the football,” Messingham said. “I go back to from Day 1, we’ve talked about being a physical team, but also a team that takes care of the football. And that’s one of the things we talk about every single day as an offensive unit.”

Another issue, though, is quarterback Tyler Bruggman, who is only hitting 51 percent of his passes, which has Messingham concerned.

“We need to be completing the ball much closer to 60 percent than what we are right now,” he said. “And that’s something we’ve got to keep getting better at, and that’s not just taking the free ones, but also being smart, not trying to push the ball down the field when the opportunity is not there. But when the opportunity is there, and there were numerous opportunities last week, we’ve got to complete those passes.”

Bruggman takes all the blame on himself.

“It starts with me hitting open guys and making plays down the field,” Bruggman said. “We had some guys that were open and missed them this week, and that can’t happen anymore. We just need to let it go and flush it and use it as fuel to the fire but can’t dwell on it and just need to move forward.”

There is also the health of running back and captain Chad Newell in question.

“Kind of taking it easy right now,” said Newell. “But it’s nothing too serious, just a hyperextension and I’m just trying to do everything the trrainers tell me to
get it back 100 percent. Yeah, I’ll play Saturday.”