(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State’s defense forced three turnovers and the offense matched that with three touchdowns in the team’s final scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday. But the highlight of the Bobcats’ 95-play session came when Troy Andersen pulled off his red jersey.
With the red jersey off, so to was the designation that the sophomore quarterback was not to be tackled. “It was fun,” Andersen said after the scrimmage of his first opportunity to play full-contact football as the team’s quarterback. His first play was an 11-yard completion to redshirt freshman receiver Willie Patterson, and his second was a seven-yard hook-up with junior receiver Kevin Kassis. He gained five yards himself on a keeper next.
Then, on a second-and-five, Andersen ran to his right, broke a tackle, hit his stride, and was gone. He galloped 55 yards for a touchdown. “I told him, ‘Just take it off,’” Choate said of making Andersen live. “I think Troy was a little geeked up today. He’s a thoroughbred, and finally I said, ‘We’ll just make him live,’ and what does he do?”
Andersen’s productivity – he rushed for 64 yards and threw for 96 – paced an offense that Choate said was “really efficient moving the ball.” And Montana State’s third-year head coach said the 6-3, 225 lb sophomore who was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year as a running back and linebacker last season offers defenses a conundrum, particularly facing a tag-off situation because of the red jersey.
“It’s a combination of size and speed” that makes defending Andersen difficult, Choate said. “The defense (says), if you don’t have him live how are we going to know whether we got him down. And the offense (says), you don’t want him live because you’re not going to get him down.”
Montana State’s first offense marched to the 30-yard line on the first possession, but a Marcus Ferriter sack, an incomplete pass and a false start penalty set up a third-and-long. The defense held, and Tristan Bailey’s 43-yard field goal was no good. The first offense again drove deep on its next turn, but the defense stuffed a run for a one-yard loss on first-and-goal from the nine, and on the next play an Andersen pitch was errant and Balue Chapman recovered to again turn the offense away without points.
“I thought we were really efficient moving the ball offensively, (but) here was my knock,” Choate said. “We had four false start penalties, and it wasn’t just that we had false start penalties, but we had one in the red zone, we had one in two-minute drill. They are really hard to overcome, and that was extremely frustrating. In that same drive we were moving the ball right down the field we blow a (pass) protection and had a false start back-to-back, so you go from a first-and-10 on about the 28 yard line going in to being backed way up and having some issues in terms of being able to find your rhythm offensively. We had two turnovers, one was in the red zone, one was in the two-minute drill. So it’s not always that you make mistakes, it’s when you make mistakes that can be really costly.”
Choate was pleased with his defensive unit’s intensity. “I thought defensively our guys brought the right mindset,” he said. “I was very pleased with the one defense, they did what they should have done against the two offense, which is shut them down a little bit and get after the quarterback. I thought Tyrone Fa’anono in particular was a problem for the offense.”
Montana State’s offense flashed big-play potential. In addition to Andersen, Arkansas transfer Maleek Barkley’s move from receiver to running back gives the Bobcats another long-ball threat whenever he touches the ball. “Probably the guy who had the breakout night was the Barkley kid,” Choate said. “He has no idea what he’s doing, but if you get him the ball in the open field he’s a little bit of a problem (for defenses). If we can get him going in the right direction he might be able to help him a little bit.”
The Bobcats close preseason camp on Monday before beginning game preparation for the August 30 season opener against Western Illinois. “Monday will be a polish day, clean up a little bit,” Choate said. “They’ll have the roll call meetings with their (position) coaches tomorrow, so guys that are going to be in scout team mode will use Monday to organize some of that, then we’ll have a bonus Tuesday practice on Tuesday.” Choate said Bobcat players will help freshman students move into residence halls on Wednesday before “the most important thing we do in fall camp, the talent show,” on Wednesday night.
RUSHING: Maleek Barkley 10-74-1, Troy Andersen 10-64-1, Isaiah Ifanse 5-26-0, Karl Tucker II 5-12-0, Shane Perry 5-25-0, Lane Sumner 4-23-0, Justin Cauley 3-5-0, Casey Bauman 2- -3-0, Tucker Rovig 3- -5-0, Coy Steel 2-16-0, Ruben Beltran 1- -6-0.
PASSING: Troy Andersen 10-16-1, 96, 0; Tucker Rovig 7-10-1, 63, 1 TD; Casey Bauman 7-11-0, 73, 0; Ruben Beltran 5-6-0, 31, 0; Kevin Kassis 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: Kevin Kassis 2-12-0, Isaiah Ifanse 1-23-0, Mekhi Metcalf 3-20-0, Maleek Barkley 2-22-0, Peyton Hanser 3-23-0, Karl Tucker II 1-4-0, Travis Jonsen 2-21-0, Coy Steel 3-18-0, Johnny D’Agostino 2-19-0, Logan Kleinhans 1-12-0, Willie Patterson 3-31-0, Lance McCutcheon 1-12-0, Connor Sullivan 1-18-1, Lane Sumner 1-3-0, Mark Estes 1-11-0, Koby Duru 1-5-0, Shane Perry 1-11-0.
DEFENSIVE SPECIAL STATS: Sacks – Byron Rollins (2), Marcus Ferriter, Tyrone Fa’anono, Zach Wright. Other Tackles-for-Loss – James Williams, Kyle Rygg; Fumble Recovery – Balue Chapman; Interceptions – Greg Filer III, Luke May.