BOZEMAN -- Montana State has a familiar opponent this week as the Bobcats travel to face Western Illinois, a team they defeated last season in their Gold Rush game. The Leathernecks are 0-2 this season, but MSU head coach Jeff Choate knows what they bring to the table.
“I think this is a scary team, because they’ve had to go on the road and play in some tough environments the last two weeks. And now they are at home for the first time, so we’re going to have to have our best,” said Choate.
"They're a good team. They’re better than they were last year, I think,” added senior running back Logan Jones.
And Choate’s main focus is making sure his offensive line can go toe to toe with WIU’s big front.
“Their D-line is the strength of their defense, excellent defensive line. They are well-coached, big physical group," said Choate. "They lost a great player a year ago that was one of the FCS players that was drafted. I don’t see a lot of drop off on that unit, however. I think that’s a very good unit.”
That draftee is Khalen Saunders, who was selected 84th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Montana State has bumped into the top 10 in the rankings since its win over Southeast Missouri State. While Bobcat fans may be high on their team, the players know they can’t get ahead of their recent successes.
“Maybe the team should be a little confident, but I wouldn’t say that we should have a ton of momentum yet, because that’s our first win of the season. We’re not by any means world-breakers right now yet. I think we have a long ways to go,” said Jones.
As Choate said on Monday, this is a defining game for MSU and methodical preparation is key.
“Just like everybody else that you watch on film, they’re the opponent and you find their weaknesses and you exploit them," said Jones. "That’s all they are to me. They are the next guys that we have to take down.”
MSU and WIU kick off at 2 p.m. (MDT) Saturday. The game will be streamed online at ESPN+.