(Editor’s note: Montana State Athletics release)
BOZEMAN — Jeff Choate saw his Montana State football team show good things on both offense and defense in Saturday’s Sonny Holland Classic scrimmage. He saw his team put in a workmanlike effort in blustery conditions. And he saw the one thing he most coveted.
“The number one objective was to get out of there healthy,” he said after an 80-play scrimmage interspersed between practice drills and fan-centered activities. “And we got that, so I’m the happiest guy here.”
Several Bobcat veterans had signature moments during a scrimmage that in many ways mirrored the team’s start-and-stop spring. Senior receiver Travis Jonsen turned a wind-open pass from junior quarterback Tucker Rovig into a 53-yard gain for the afternoon’s longest play. Senior running back Logan Jones scampered for a 25-yard gain the first time he touched the ball. Senior receiver Kevin Kassis caught two passes for 46 yards, including a 35-yard catch-and-run.
“I thought the offense moved the ball pretty good once we got into the play-it period. In that first play-it period the offense moved the ball right down the field, did some nice things after a little bit of a shaky start in the red zone period. I thought Tucker (Rovig) did some nice things.”
The Bobcat defense also enjoyed good moments. Senior defensive end Derek Marks had one of the team’s four sacks, another tackle-for-loss, and a pass breakup. Level Price Jr., a freshman cornerback, registered a sack and a pass breakup, while freshman defensive lineman Kyle Rygg logged one sack and also broke up a pass. Choate said that the structure of MSU’s offense played into how the scrimmage unfolded. “We didn’t open our playbook today, we didn’t use a whole lot of quarterback run game today, we were very basic in our pass plays. We basically ran inside zone and counter – we ran essentially two run plays. It was vanilla by design.”
Saturday’s proceedings nearly capped a spring that – when it officially ends on Tuesday – will have included a baker’s dozen practices spread out over 34 days and hampered by pretty much every kind of weather condition imaginable except for extreme heat. The team now hunkers down for a three weeks of stringent academics leading to finals week and into summer break.
“When it’s all said and done we got basically nine practices,” Choate said, “so this is basically a first scrimmage more than a spring game. Now it’s time to focus on what’s going to help us get better – getting back in the weight room and getting in the classroom and focusing on academics.”
RUSHING: Tyrel Burgess 8-10-0, Shane Perry 6-13-1, Ruben Beltran 6- -8-0, Isaiah Ifanse 5-16-1, Karl Tucker II 4-15-0, Lane Sumner 4-6-0, Logan Jones 3-30-0, Casey Bauman 2-1-0, Justin Cauley 2-2-0, Mark Estes 2-6-0, Tucker Rovig 1-3-0.
PASSING: Tucker Rovig 8-14-0, 134, 0; Ruben Beltran 4-13-0, 25, 0; Casey Bauman 4-9-0, 25, 0.
RECEIVING: Bryce Barker 3-24-0, Lance McCutcheon 2-13-0, Travis Jonsen 2-53-0, Kevin Kassis 2-46-0, Karl Tucker II 1-7-0, Coy Steel 1-12-0, Lane Sumner 1-11-0, Willie Patterson 1-8-0, Justin Cauley 1-2-0, Peyton Hanser 1-1-0, Quincy Kent-Schneider 1-5-0.
SACKS: Derek Marks-1, Level Price Jr.-1, Kyle Rygg-1, Kyle Finch-1.
OTHER TACKLES-FOR-LOSS: Nolan Askelson-1, Derek Marks-1.
PASS BREAKUPS: Derek Marks-1, Level Price Jr.-1, Ty-Rhae Gibson-1, Kyle Rygg-1.