Bobcat offense, defense provide positives

BOZEMAN — Montana State’s only major scrimmage of fall camp was as noteworthy Wednesday for what the team didn’t do as for what it did.

The offense didn’t turn the ball over. The defense didn’t give up many rushing yards. And amid a four-way battle for kickoff and place-kicking duties, Bobcats kickers didn’t miss a single placement, at least not until the very end of the 80-plus play session.

“Overall I’m pleased,” said sixth-year Bobcat coach Rob Ash. “The offense takes care of the ball, it’s productive. The defense came up with some good plays. I like the fact that everyone is enthusiastic and cheering for one another. The offense and defense are going at it hard, but they’re pulling for guys on both sides of the ball. It was a good scrimmage.”

Early on, Montana State’s defense controlled play. The offense didn’t garner a first down until the scrum’s fourth series, when junior quarterback DeNarius McGhee found junior receiver John Ellis for a 43-yard gain. Four plays later, junior running back Cody Kirk rumbled in from five yards out for the day’s first touchdown.

“John Ellis is explosive,” McGhee said. “I look forward to seeing what he can do this year.”

At about the mid-point of the scrimmage, MSU’s offense began clicking. Redshirt freshman Jake Bleskin engineered a drive that moved the second offense from the shadow of its own end zone with a couple of first downs, and McGhee and the first offense marched 69 yards in 12 plays for a score.

But on most drives, Ash said the Bobcat defense did what it does best. “That’s kind of how it goes with Coach (Jamie) Marshall is so good at disrupting offenses,” Ash said of his long-time defensive coordinator. “Typically he’s really good at disrupting an offense’s rhythm. He couldn’t find the answer on that one long drive, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

The day’s one problem spot, Ash said, involved laundry on the field. “We had too many penalties,” he said simply. “That’s why we have officials here. But it’s something we need to get fixed.”

While Wednesday’s scrimmage put a wrap on MSU’s full-contact sessions for fall camp, Ash said that after an extremely physical week his team is ready for that. “We’ll be fine tackling,” he said. “We don’t need to hit any more. “We’re in good shape in that area.”

While the Bobcat offense threw the ball efficiently Wednesday – MSU was 26-for-42 for 306 yards and two touchdowns against no interceptions – the defense controlled the trenches. MSU gained 100 yards on 25 carries, but 36 came on one vintage Orenzo Davis carry, when the senior burst through a seam and out-raced everyone to the end zone.

“Orenzo is able to provide that one-play burst that gets us off the field,” McGhee said with a smile.

— MSU Sports Information

RUSHING: Cody Kirk 9-28-1, Orenzo Davis 6-63-1, Chad Newell 5-4-0, Shawn Johnson 2-1-0, Tray Robinson 2-3-0, Chase Young 1-1-0.

PASSING: DeNarius McGhee 10-16-0, 114, 1; Jake Bleskin 12-19-0, 166, 1; Dakota Prukop 2-3-0, 8, 0; Austin Barth 2-4-0, 18, 0.

RECEIVING: Tanner Bleskin 4-49-0, Everett Gilbert 3-9-1, Tiai Salanoa 2-19-0, Kurt Davis 2-19-0, Kruiz Siewing 2-41-0, Chase Young 2-62-1, Lee Perkins 2-1-0, David Dash 2-12-0, John Ellis 1-43-0, Cody Kirk 1-5-0, Orenzo Davis 1-3-0, Jake Olson 1-8-0, Jackson Mahlum 1-10-0, Cad Newell 1-1-0, Shawn Johson 1-7-0.

FIELD GOAL SEQUENCE: Rory Perez 27-G, 48-G; AJ Silva 43-G; Keith Leenders 47-G; Trevor Bolton 47-NG, 47-G.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Hayden Vick-Sack; Connor Verlanic-Sack; Caleb Schreibeis-Sack; Craig Ashworth-Sack; Rhett Young-Sack; Josh Dirks-PB; Eryon Barnett-PB; Deonte Flowers-PB; James Nelson-2 PB.