BOZEMAN -- Montana State opens up Big Sky Conference play at home Saturday afternoon against Northern Arizona. The Cats (3-1) will go head-to-head with one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league, sixth-year senior Case Cookus, who has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in his college career.
“There’s no mystery for the guy. You can try to disguise your coverage and he’s going to find the hole in the zone. If you’re playing zone, he’s just going to pick you apart and take what you give him," said Montana State head coach Jeff Choate. "He’s seen it all. The second he gets there, if you’re going to press him into the boundary, they're going to convert the route and it’s going to be 'Bombs over Baghdad' for crying out loud.”
Behind Cookus, NAU (2-2) has averaged 40 points per game through four contests this season. The Cats have to match that offense, but they aren't lagging too far behind, averaging 31. But there are still some question marks in the offense. After Tucker Rovig’s four-touchdown day last week against Norfolk State, MSU isn’t giving any hints to who will be under center on Saturday.
“You produce, you're going to play. I think whoever produces and can lead this team is going to play and we will see how everything shakes out. But I’m excited to see who it is,” said senior wide receiver Kevin Kassis.
Heading into Saturday's matchup, Choate will be going up against a friend in Lumberjacks' first-year head coach Chris Ball. And Choate has an unusual tie to Ball: he once lived inside his home.
“We actually were renting (Ball's) house in Pullman when I worked at Washington State and he was at Arizona State," Choate laughed. "It worked out great. I got to know he and his family during that period of time.”
Regardless of the friendship that developed in past years, it’s conference play and the seventh-ranked Bobcats are buckling down.
“(I) could care less about what just happened over the last four weeks," said Choate. "This is about Northern Arizona University on Saturday, one o’clock.”