BOZEMAN — For their third straight season, Montana State has made their way back to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs. Friday night they’ll be hosting William & Mary, a program more than 2,000 miles away located on the coast of Virginia. In this cross-country, cross conference matchup, fans may see the Bobcats make some in-game adjustments.
"There’s certainly some allowing it to play out at the early stages of the game," MSU head coach Brent Vigen said of Friday's matchup. "You can make your best judgement of what they are like as individuals physically, an then you have to go out and really still be more worried about what you do and how you play, but there is certainly that element of kind of figuring out some of that as you go.”
The William & Mary tribe are led by Mike London, who has seen success at both the FBS and FCS level. The Tribe are coming off of their first CAA Conference Championship since 2015 and head into Friday’s game 11-1.
While Vigen and squad are prepared to adjust on the fly, from a quick film study, it’s clear William and Mary’s offense starts with Darius Wilson.
“Offensively, they have the potential to be really dynamic and deceptive, and [Darius Wilson’s] certainly the catalyst… He can hand the ball off to some effective runners, and he can throw it to some really talented guys, too… You’re not going to completely shut it down, but it’s limiting the run game,” Vigen said.
With 3,320 yards on the ground this fall, the Tribe are ranked fourth in the FCS, just two spots down from the Bobcats who are sitting at No. 2 with 3,971 yards.
William & Mary's 5’11 tailback, Bronson Yoder, has accounted for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns, but the Tribe's passing game isn’t to be dismissed.
“They have good skill. Good running backs. Good receivers, and they utilize them a lot of different ways. They move them around in a lot of different ways. A good O-line. Good tight ends… They threw it for 300 against Gardiner Webb, so explosive offense,” Vigen said of his opponents.
On defense, the Tribe also find themselves ranked nationally sitting at No. 8, allowing just under 20 points per game (19.8).
Their biggest play maker comes on the outside in John Pius, a finalist for the theBuck Buchanan award. He leads the Tribe with 71 tackles, 19 of which were for loss, and boasts 11.5 sacks.
“They’re principled for sure… He plays as an outside backer, but really plays at defensive end quite a bit and anytime you get those figures as far as tackles for loss – a very active player," Vigen added.
The kickoff under the lights is set for Friday night at 8:15, and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.