BOZEMAN – Montana State started its third week of spring football on Monday morning.

“I just thought our mindset was right (Monday),” said head coach Jeff Choate.

Practice was actually cut short by 15 minutes.

“I was concerned,” added Choate. “We had a very physical practice on Saturday. And you never know how guys are going to bounce back, if they’re going to ease into the day. We front-loaded practice (Monday). We had a really good seven-on-seven period early and then we had an inside-run period that was probably one of the more physical periods we’ve had since I’ve been here. And then backed off and did a lot of mental work at the end. I thought our kids responded really well. It tells me we’re becoming more mature as a team. They understand how we have to go to work, and the mindset that we have to have to improve every day. I thought this was a very good Monday practice. I’m excited to get the pads back on Wednesday and go one more time.”

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Unlike most coaches who want experienced assistants, Choate has chosen three guys, DeNarius McGhee, Matt Miller and Byron Hout, who are in their first job as a position coach, having recently been star athletes.

“Well, I think it’s always good when you have somebody who has been in those shoes in the recent past,” stressed Choate. “I forget what it’s like sometimes, so even just for
me as the head coach, to have someone there to bring the student-athlete’s perspective into the meeting room in terms of some of the decisions we make, how we practice, how we travel. I think that’s very beneficial. I think they all bring great energy, which is always the secret to success.”

McGhee, the former all-American Bobcat, has been the biggest surprise.

“Awesome, doing an awesome job,” gushed Choate. “Talk about energy. That guy brings it in spades every day. He understands the position really well. I didn’t play the position and that’s why we hired DeNarius. He can talk about all the things that I want out of the quarterback position. Decision-making, accuracy, leadership, those three things are a premium. And I think DeNarius really understands the details of the footwork that goes into it, where your eyes need to be on the progression. We were working play-action pass, mesh fits just a few moments ago, and just listening to him coach those guys up on nuances of where the ball needs to be, and how to see it, and those types of things, I think it makes a big difference.”

“It helps me relate to my players a little bit,” said defensive line coach Byron Hout. “Kind of understand exactly what they’re going through in today’s day and age. All the anxiety of college and trying to balance your time and manage your time. I think I can help them out with that a little bit.”

It also gives Choate another job.

“It does give me an opportunity to coach the coaches at times. And that’s one of the roles I think you have at a place like Montana State,” he said. “These guys aren’t all finished products, and nobody is. There is no such thing as done. And so we’ve got to keep growing and learning and that’s part of my job as the head coach, to coach these guys as well.”