It’s starting to come together for the Montana Tech football team.
As the Orediggers approach the midway point of spring drills, coach Chuck Morrell said he now has an eye on August.
“We’re getting to that point where you’re starting to get ready for the fall camp,” Morrell said after the Orediggers capped Saturday’s practice with a short scrimmage at Alumni Coliseum. “We’re definitely past the point where we’re trying to get everybody lined up right.”
Morrell pointed to success on both sides of the ball. He said his guys have really grabbed onto new offensive coordinator Corey Fipps’ fast-paced spread offense.
“Our offense has picked up the scheme really rapidly, probably even faster than I thought,” Morrell said. “They’re able to get the ball up and down the field a little bit.”
Quarterbacks Clay Cavender, a junior college transfer, and Matt Berg ran the offense Saturday. Fifth-year senior Brian Schwazkoph missed practice because he had a test.
The starting job will likely be decided in the fall Morrell said. The coach had lots of good things to say about Cavender and Schwarzkoph, the two likely to battle it out in August after last year’s starter, Nick Baker, decided to forgo his senior year to attend graduate school.
Cavender showed off his blazing speed Saturday, breaking free for a couple of long runs.
“Every time he runs he busts at least 30 yards on us,” one defensive player said after one Cavender run.
“He’s going to be a guy who is a reason to buy a ticket to watch the game,” Morrell said. “He’s a guy who is going to be pure entertainment.”
Schwarzkoph has had a superb spring, Morrell said.
“Brian has executed very, very well in spring ball,” the coach said. “I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s getting the ball out on time, he’s showing some great leadership and he’s spreading the ball around to our playmakers.”
Saturday’s scrimmage also showed that the Orediggers are serious about using the fullback more. Senior fullback Tyson Schriver probably saw more passes and handoffs in one practice than Oredigger fullbacks saw in a decade worth of games.
“We’re in the spread offense, there’s no doubt about that,” Morrell said. “But there’s different versions of it. Sometimes people will equate the spread with finesse. That’s not true. I think you can be a physical spread team, and that’s what we’re really setting up to be.”
Morrell said Shriver will be a big part of the Tech offense when the team suits up for real.
“I think we’ve got a nice role for Tyson,” Morrell said. “We’re using him a little bit differently than in the past. I trust Tyson. He’s got very good hands, he can catch a lot of balls and we can use him in a lot of ways.
“We’re being physical in the run game, even though we’re in the spread formation. I think that’s the key to success in Butte. There’s going to be times when we’ve got to run the football.”
Tech’s defense returns some serious depth in the front seven. That was evident as senior linebacker Ryan Jones, who missed all last season with an injury, was all over the field during Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Defensively, especially with our fronts and our blitzes, we’re coming along really fast,” Morrell said.
The Orediggers won’t practice again until Wednesday.
The team will scrimmage April 20. The spring game is April 27 at Alumni Coliseum.