Saturday’s “Rockpile” scrimmage was all about skill for the Montana Tech football team.
Skill players, that is.
The Orediggers showed off the potential to light up the scoreboard in the practice game that came one week after the team opened the fall camp.
Tech still has two weeks before it opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Eastern Oregon.
“I was really pleased with our skill guys,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. “I feel like our offense – once we get a few things ironed out – has the opportunity to be pretty explosive.”
The offense scored four touchdowns in front of a sizeable scrimmage crowd at Alumni Coliseum. One was called back by a penalty.
Junior receiver Kevin Moss hauled in a 30-yard strike from junior quarterback Nick Baker. That score was called back by holding.
James Roberts, also a junior, tipped a pass to himself in the back for about a 30-yard reception from Brain Schwarzkoph that set up a short TD run by the quarterback.
Moments later, sophomore Braxton Lucero, caught a TD pass of about 10 yards from Schwarzkoph.
Baker and Moss hooked up again – this time for an 8-yard strike – to cap the scoring.
The offensive line, which was playing with several projected starters sitting out with minor injuries, gave up several sacks. Well, red jersey sacks where the quarterback is not to be hit.
There could have been more, but Baker and Schwarzkoph showed off their footwork.
The quarterbacks who are competing for the starting job both drew praise from Morrell.
“One great thing from our standpoint – and I know from the defensive perspective – is they’re both very mobile,” Morrell said. “So when things do break down they can both make plays with their feet. That’s a dangerous extra element. It’s hard to game plan for that.”
Overall, the head coach said he was happy with the work of his big guys up front.
“I’m very pleased with the progress of our young offensive line,” Morrell said. “Coach (Scott) Sampson has done a heck of a job with those guys in one short week.”
That line was facing a defensive front that looks talented and deep.
“Mike Waldman and some of our guys up front really put a lot of pressure on our quarterbacks,” Morrell said, adding that he’s hoping to improve the team’s sack number. “They forced our quarterbacks to really move around. We’d like to see if we can’t get those guys down in the backfield now.”
Sophomore defensive back Nate Hoffland picked off a tipped Schwarzkoph pass to stop a potential scoring drive at the 1-yard line. He returned it about half the length of the field. The return, though, was called back by a clip.
“Our secondary guys, for the most part, played very well,” Morrell said. “We busted a couple coverage. ”
Senior safety Nathan Kobold seemed to be in on every play.
“Nate Kobold always seems to find his way around the football,” Morrell said. “He just has that uncanny knack that wherever there’s something going on he always finds himself being there. I don’t know if that’s something you can coach. That’s natural instinct.”
The Orediggers seemed much improved in the kicking game.
Redshirt freshman Matt Berg showed a big leg in kickoffs. The University of Montana transfer from Butte said he wasn’t happy with his field goal kicking, though. Berg also saw time at quarterback.
Sophomore punter Travis Farewell had an impressive scrimmage after working on his consistency over the summer.
The Orediggers head into their second week of camp evaluating where to go from scrimmage No. 1.
The team will hold another practice game on Thursday.
Morrell said the decision on the starting quarterback will likely come this week.
“I’m very happy,” the coach said. “For only one week into camp, I’m very, very excited about where we’re at.”