BOZEMAN — The undecided position battles dwindle. The question marks disappear. The calendar pages flip closer to the end of spring drills for the Montana State football program, and Montana State’s seventh-year coach Rob Ash likes the increasing production and decreasing uncertainty.
“We made quite a bit of progress from the first scrimmage to (last Saturday’s) scrimmage,” Ash said after evaluating video of the team’s second major scrum of the spring. “(Offensively) we cut down the number of sacks, we cut down the number of missed center-quarterback exchanges by a lot, we ran the ball better, and had some decent possessions. I thought the offense made some good progress.”
The offensive line provides the greatest area of unknown on that side of the ball, but that correlates directly to issues with the center-quarterback exchange early in the spring. Pinning down the starting center, Ash said, will pull everything else on the front into alignment.
“The offensive line situation will probably carry over into the fall,” Ash said, “but I think we’re getting close. Matt Devereux is taking to (center) pretty well, so we may lock him in for the foreseeable future as the No. 1 center. We have six guys for five spots, basically, so Quinn (Catalano) will be at one guard and Alex Eekhof has really come on at right tackle (with returning starter John Weidenaar at left). That leaves a big battle between JP Flynn and (Kyle) Godecke at the other guard.”
The defense entered the spring with a list of stars to replace – Big Sky Defensive MVP Jody Owens, Buck Buchanan Award winner Caleb Schreibeis, and a trio of all-leaguers in safety Joel Fuller, cornerback Darius Jones, and tackle Zach Minter – but has methodically ticked positions off that list.
“Alex Singleton has the Will linebacker spot (held by Owens) locked up,” Ash said. “Preston Gale will definitely start where Caleb did, and Taylor Dees and Taylor Sheridan are rotating at Zach’s old spot. It doesn’t matter who starts there because they’ll both play. In the secondary, I like the way Sean Gords (cornerback) and Eryon Barnett (safety) have played That is a good combination.”
Ash was pleased with the play of his defense last weekend. “Defensively when you look at the film, we look very solid, the ones especially,” he said. “One touchdown came off a short field, and the other one was a long run came on a bust, on a blitz. I thought the defense was really solid during the course of the day.”
While the football element of this weekend’s event – which begins with Friday’s Triangle Classic Banquet at 6 pm in the Four Seasons Arena, featuring NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson — is the centerpiece, Ash said there is another very important factor at play.
“When our players walk into the banquet and see over 1,000 Bobcat fans,” he said, “they realize how important our program is to the state of Montana. They realize they are part of something bigger than any individual. It’s a great way to connect with many people that come to Bozeman for football games every week. It’s just a tremendous event.”
Saturday’s scrimmage is scheduled to begin at 3 pm at Great Falls High School’s Memorial Stadium.
— MSU Sports Information