BOZEMAN – It was last November when the Montana State football team last played a game in its own stadium, and members of this year’s team are excited to step on their field once again.
“Running out of the Bobcat head, I mean, that’s a really cool feeling. There are like 20,000 people screaming for you, so I’d say (I’m excited for) that and just winning. Getting the first win of the season is always a big deal,” said safety Brayden Konkol.
The Bobcats will take on Western Illinois in the season-opening Gold Rush game. While the Cats are excited to feel the shock waves of the crowd, they need to stay level.
“It’s the first game so everyone is going to have the first-game jitters. It’s going to be a great atmosphere out there on Thursday,” said running back Karl Tucker. “I think just getting out the first-game jitters is going to be the biggest thing for everyone.”
And it starts with stopping the Leatherneck attack. MSU defensive coordinator Ty Gregorak admits his defense hasn’t lived up to recent expectations, but he’s ready for that to change.
“Taking the football away and winning on third down, things we just weren’t good enough at last year,” said Gregorak. “Our goal is lofty, we are trying to keep teams under three touchdowns a game and if we do so we think we can be a championship defense.”
It will be a difficult task to achieve against WIU, because the Leathernecks throw a lot at opponents very quickly.
“They don’t really have many plays, but the way they create their formations and the way they flip them around pre-snap,” said senior defensive lineman Zach Wright. “A lot the things they do is sleight of hand, that’s what they’ll get their advantage from. So a lot of what we’ll be doing is making sure they can’t trick us.”
On the outside, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to this Bobcat team. But internally, they know what they are capable of.
“I feel very confident. I think we’ve had a good camp as receivers and as a team, one of the best camps we’ve had since I’ve been here, I’d say,” said John D’Agostino, a Cats wide receiver.
Now they are ready to run out of that Bobcat head, excited to be greeted by the thousands of fans who will charge behind them.
“Everyone has their T-shirt on and everybody is appropriately pre-functioned to make sure everything is where we need to be with the volume,” head coach Jeff Choate smiled, “and Montana State fans get it, and it will be a great event.”