BOZEMAN — On a day when the weather was more reminiscent of springtime in Bozeman than late summer, the Bobcat football team inched closer to playing fall football for the first time in two years during a wind-whipped 90-play scrimmage featuring a strong ground game, individual defensive highlights, and excellent kicking by freshman specialists.
“We’re going to have to play in all kinds of conditions whether it’s here or on the road, and to have days like this is just part of the deal,” said first-year coach Brent Vigen after the day’s work, which saw the Bobcat offense score two touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. “The wind can be such a factor in the kicking game, the passing game, how you call defense relative to that situation, how you call offense, so I think it was good for us to get this.”
On the 17th play of the scrimmage, the fourth of a drive helmed by both Tucker Rovig (the first three plays) and Matt McKay, Derryk Snell took a short pass from McKay into the end zone for a 12-yard scoring strike. Later in the morning, quarterback Tommy Mellott, a 2020 Butte High graduate, scampered 55 yards for a touchdown, and at the end of the day’s work quarterback Casey Bauman scored from one yard out. Kicker Blake Glessner converted field goals of 42 yards, 27 yards, and 28 yards without a miss.
Freshman running back Elijah Elliott carried 12 times for 89 yards, including three of 15 or more. Freshman DeMareus Hosey gained 40 yards on 10 carries. Mellott, also a freshman, broke off a 55-yard run for a touchdown while recording runs of 21 and 11 yards. On defense, end Ben Seymour intercepted a Rovig pass off of a deflection, while tackle Tua Areta logged a sack and end Daniel Hardy broke up a pass.
Still, Vigen was more impressed by his team’s cohesion than any individual effort. “I don’t know standing out there if there was in particular an individual (that stood out),” he said, “and that’s OK. Our units need to be our strength. Matt had one-third of the reps, and I think his reps were steady. We had a challenging weather day today, but that’s football, that’s the way it goes. I think Elijah Elliott, from a running back perspective, ran the ball well at times. Defensively I thought we tackled pretty well, and it’s not going to be one person or the other that’s going to be part of that, it has to be everybody.”
Saturday’s wind created challenges across the board, particularly in the kicking game, where MSU relies on freshmen across the board. Vigen was impressed with both Glessner and Bryce Leighton, the team’s punter. “I felt really good about what Bryce was able to do today navigating the wind. We punted in some different situations, Blake kicked the ball from a field goal perspective well today, (kicker) Luke Pawlak didn’t kick today. He’s been out a couple days, we’ll see what his situation is like moving forward, but I thought Blake stepped up today, especially with the wind, which was trick.”
Saturday’s work should aid coaches and players alike in preparation for the September 4 season opener at Wyoming. “We’ll come out of this scrimmage with a pared down depth idea of where we’re at, who’s most likely to be part of that 70-man travel roster,” he said. “I mentioned those two time outs, one on each side of the football, we have to do everything we can to eliminate those situations. We did have more penalties today, a couple of procedures on both sides, we had a couple holding calls, we had a pass interference. Those are all things, when you get refs out here, that opens guys eyes up. It was relatively clean for 100 plays, but we need to be cleaner to play winning football.”
With just less than two weeks remaining until the Bobcats visit Wyoming, Vigen said the urgency to finish preparations continues to rise. “We know what we’re doing, (but) how fast are we playing? How well are we finishing blocks, how well are we running the football? I think that’s the continuing mindset that we have to have. I think we’ll go through (the film) and assignment-wise I think we’ll be in a pretty good place. That’s the first step. Then, how do you take those assignments and apply it. That’s where a day like today is so valuable, because it’s harder (not) to have a coach in your ear telling you and reminding you of stuff.”
After taking Sunday off, the Cats return to the field with practices Monday through Friday next week, and a Saturday closed scrimmage. Monday’s practice in Bobcat Stadium is slated for 9 am.
RUSHING: Elijah Elliott 12-89, DeMareus Hosey 10-40, Lane Sumner 9-32, Tommy Mellott 6-98-1, Matt McKay 4-18, Jaharie Martin 4-7, Casey Bauman 4- -1-1, Tucker Rovig 3-24, Garrett Coon 3-13, Sean Austin 3-18, Willie Patterson 1-2, Cam Gardner 1-1, Andrew Patterson 1-13. TOTALS: 61-354-2
PASSING: Matt McKay 4-7-0, 40 yards, 1 TD; Tucker Rovig 5-11-1, 30, 0; Casey Bauman 2-5-0, 38, 0; Tommy Mellott 1-3-0, 11, 0; Sean Austin 1-3-0, 8, 0. TOTALS: 13-29-1, 127, 1
RECEIVING: Cam Gardner 1-17-0, Derryk Snell 1-12-1, Lane Sumner 1-4-0, Lance McCutcheon 1-21-0, Willie Patterson 1-3-0, Andrew Patterson 2-38-0, Tayvian Williams 1-11-0, DeMareus Hosey 3-8-0, Treyton Pickering 1-5-0, Garrett Coon 1-8-0. TOTALS: 13-127-1
DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Daniel Hardy – 1 PB, Blake Hehl – 1 hurry, Tre Webb – 1 forced fumble, Ben Seymour – 1 interception, Sebastian Valdez – 1 hurry, Tua Areta – 1 sack.
— MSU Sports Information