Pieces falling into place for MSU’s Pole

BOZEMAN — Montana State football coach Rob Ash liked the talent he had on hand entering spring drills. As his seventh Bobcat squad leaves the first third of spring ball in the rear view mirror, he likes how those pieces are coming together.

“We’re trying to fit things together, but things have gone well,” Ash said before Thursday’s fifth practice of the spring. “We’re still merging Coach (Tim) Cramsey’s ideas with what we’ve done in the past on offense. Defensively, (seventh-year defensive coordinator) Jamie Marshall has added some things and tweaked some things. We’re still fitting things together, but I like how the staff works together and I like how things are going.”

Montana State’s Friday morning practice, which begins at 11 am, contains a 60-minute live period that offers Ash and his staff the first opportunity of the spring to view the Bobcats in a tackle-to-the-ground situation. “We’ll go up and down the field, it will be unscripted, and we’ll have the chance to see guys make plays,” Ash said. “We’ll get to see how we tackle and block and get off blocks and try to avoid tackles. We’ll get a good look at the run game.”

One key component of that run game, Shawn Johnson, practiced for the first time on Tuesday, and Ash said his presence gives the team’s offense a jolt. “I like our running back tandem – Cody (Kirk) and Shawn – and they’ll both get a ton of carries every game,” Ash said. “They’re a good one-two punch. They complement each other well, they have different styles”

The run game also stands as one of the great missing pieces of Ash’s team this spring. “Who is our third running back,” he asked rhetorically, “that’s one of our biggest questions of the spring. There’s a good battle right now (between Chad Newell, Cody Dopps and Morris Mouton) and we’ll take a look at some talented freshmen in August.”

After Friday’s 11 am practice, MSU returns to its regular Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule next week.

— MSU Sports Information