BOZEMAN — Week one on the gridiron is officially in the books for Montana State, and to cap off Saturday’s practice the Bobcats turned it up a notch by breaking out the pads for some of their first contact drills this spring.
“I think our guys have attacked this first week," head coach Brent Vigen stated after Saturday's practice. "We’ve been able to practice the way we intended. It is a good focus on getting better every day. It’s as simple as that right now."
As players settle back into the swing of things after a short offseason, the first week back has been an opportunity for Vigen to see where position groups sit, and one that’s really stood out to him these past few days is the receiving corps.
“Obviously, we lost a whole bunch of production in Lance [McCutcheon] and Nate [Stewart]," Vigen explained. "[I] have been really pleased with how that group has taken a step forward.”
With a focus on elevating their passing game this spring, quarterback Tommy Mellott has quickly built a relationship with wide receiver Ravi Alston, an All-American transfer from St. John’s in Minnesota.
“He’s got so much potential here," the sophomore QB stated. "He’s getting to know the offense obviously. He’s made a bunch of plays for us and he’s got a great character. He stepped in and molded into our team really quickly.”
While the plan is to shy Mellott away from contact this spring, he says his ankle is “feeling really good getting back after it.”
"I haven’t had the most amount of time to actually get into shape and strengthen up all those muscles that I wasn’t able to use for a couple of weeks, but my ankle is certainly — if it’s not 100% — it’s right about there," Mellott explained. "If not, this is going to get it there within a week or so.”
With “developing depth” as the goal this spring, there are a few notable position changes starting with Marcus Wehr moving to the offensive line.
“He was generally best case last year the sixth guy inside on defense, and just where he was at we saw a real opportunity for him to be more than that on the offensive side," Vigen said. "A couple of days in, I’ve really thought he’s transitioned well. Put a bunch of weight on in January and February and excited with what he’s doing.”
In the defensive secondary, the Bobcats are trying Eric Zambrano at strong safety, hoping to fill the void of Tre Webb.
“Not that there is a log jam at corner, but we had three guys that started a bunch of games there in Simeon [Woodard], James [Campbell], and Eric," Vigen added. "Eric is the biggest body out of them. A lot of things we ask our corner to do when they do lineup just to a tight end is a very comparable skillset-wise to what we ask for strong safety to do. I think it was that natural transition.”