BOZEMAN — Many observers left the first of Montana State’s two practice sessions Monday buzzing about a sensational catch by Tanner Bleskin, an Ijumaa Armstrong pass breakup, or some other scrimmage play from the full-pad workout.
Not Rob Ash.
“For me the highlight of the day was how well the battery (of the field goal and PAT teams) played,” MSU’s seventh-year head coach said. “(Kicker) Rory Perez had a great day today, he was 11-for-11 on field goals, and that’s a measure of how well the battery did.”
‘The battery’ in Ash’s parlance consists of long snapper Rocky Hogue, who is handling snaps for both punts and placements, and holder Tanner Roderick. Both are entering their first fall in the program – in fact, Hogue is in his first month as a Bobcat. He came to MSU in late July to fill a need for a long snapper. Roderick transferred to MSU from Nevada last January. Each, Ash says, has performed well.
“Rocky is snapping really well,” Ash said. “Saturday was his first day snapping live in college, and I thought it went very well. It’s good to get that out of the way. Roderick is doing an excellent job. We threw (holding) on him in the spring without any warning. He was a little shaky in the spring, but partly because of experience and partly because of how well Rocky snaps he has improved a lot in camp and is doing a good job.”
Ash will closely evaluate his special teams units again on Wednesday during the team’s final full scrimmage of fall camp. Practice begins at 3 pm in Bobcat Stadium.
INFRASTRUCTURE WORK: Plays run during any practice session or scrimmage are easy enough to evaluate by even the most casual football fan, but Bobcat coach Rob Ash said the play itself comprises only a small amount of work being done each time the team snaps the ball.
“You can’t just line up on Saturdays and run a bunch of plays blind,” Ash said. “This is the time of camp where we put plays into situational overlays – high red zone, low red zone, tempo situations. We add all those elements to the act of just running the plays, and all of a sudden the (players) are learning a lot at this time of camp.”
On top of learning plays and how to operate in a situational context, Ash said the communication systems needed for teams to function during games is also a constant source of preparation during the middle period of camp. “We’re working on the communication of getting plays in, getting guys on and off the field (before and after plays), getting the right calls made,” Ash said. “It’s still camp, and there’s a lot of this kind of work to be done.”
POSITION PONDERINGS: Ash said only one real position battle remains undecided, the guard spot contested by sophomore Kyle Godecke and freshman JP Flynn. That doesn’t eliminate intrigue from Wednesday afternoon’s scrimmage. “There are a lot of game reps up for grabs,” he said. “You never just play with 11 guys (on one side of the ball), and we’re in the process of determining rotations at each position. So even if you’re not a starter, you’re playing for the chance to get on the field.”
— MSU Sports Information