BOZEMAN – Saturday was Montana State football’s first scrimmage and even though the offense dominated, there is still one question mark in its attack: running back.
The group is banged up and surrounded with some controversy with senior tailback Nick LaSane, who was arrested twice over the summer.
“He’s going to sit for four games, he’s going to forgo a portion of his scholarship for the remaining portion of his eligibility and he’s got some other internal things that we’re going to do,” announced MSU head coach Jeff Choate on the first day of camp.
With LaSane absent for the more than one-third of the season, the running backs have to fill that gap. But they are confident in their ability.
“It’s the youngest (running back) room we’ve had in a while, so there’s been a lot more learning than there has been in years past,” said junior Noah James, who has impressed in camp and could see an increased workload. “But I’m real happy with how we’ve been doing … I would say it’s probably one of the more talented running back rooms that I’ve seen.”
But they have one new freshman that might be poised to take over the run game.
Troy Andersen, the former standout from Beaverhead County High School in Dillon, stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 215 pounds. He looks like a true athlete: strong, durable and built like a linebacker, but he’s shown he can play in the backfield.
“He’s doing really well, he’s actually impressing me a lot. How fast he is is unreal and coming in as a freshman how big he is already. Shoot, I think he’s got a really good future ahead of him and I’m excited to watch him play,” said junior running back Logan Jones.
But the share of the carries is still up in the air between the backs.
“This year I’ve gotten into the playbook a lot more and … everybody else, I would say, has, too, and we’re all doing very well,” said Jones.
And this group is getting great coaching that is going to help them this season. Running back coach Michael Pitre worked with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason, and he learned a lot that he will bring back to the Bobcats.
“One of the biggest things I learned is that sloppiness is contagious,” said Pitre. “From the locker room to how you dress to the meeting rooms, everything needs to be neat and in place, because if you see it’s out of place, that can slowly leak into other parts of your organization and your program, and then you’re playing catch up.”
The Bobcats have one more scrimmage, where it should become clear who will get the nod to start at running back, but with no bell-cow backs emerging, it looks like the carries could be split.