QB battle in full go at Cats camp

BOZEMAN — Tim Cramsey knows he has quite a week ahead of him.

Montana State’s second-year offensive coordinator and eighth-year head coach Rob Ash face a string of seven practices over the next eight days that will go a long way toward determining Montana State’s next starting quarterback. The process hit full stride with a 60-play live segment during last Saturday’s, and likely culminates in the days after next Saturday’s full scrimmage.

In between, Cramsey says the ability to process what the defense shows and make good decisions in the sparing moments between plays stands as the biggest proving ground for quarterbacks Jake Bleskin, Dakota Prukop and Quinn McQueary. “I want to see them continue to progress, continue to make plays when the opportunity presents itself, and continue to battle,” Cramsey said. “To me, a big part of it is how the offense looks when each guy is out there.”

Ash indicated that no timeline has been set for determining any of the team’s remaining position battles – quarterback, the defensive end opposite Odin Coe, kicker, punter, and several backup spots – but that nothing is likely to be decided at any unassigned position until next Sunday at the earliest. “We won’t decide anything until after next Saturday’s scrimmage,” he said.

The Bobcat passing game looked good across the board over the weekend, with the three quarterbacks combining for 296 yards with no turnovers and a 69% completion rate. Cramsey saw things to like from each member of the trio. “Each of the three showed some good and some bad,” Cramsey said. “I said before the scrimmage that I wanted to give them the opportunity to make plays, and they each showed up when they had the chance.”

MSU quarterbacks and receivers hit on four pass plays of 40 yards or more Saturday, which Cramsey said was not by accident. “Coach (Jamie) Marshall (MSU’s defensive coordinator) likes to load up the box to stop the run,” Cramsey said. “To win the battle you have to be able to hit on those 35- and 40-yard throws down the field. That’s been a big emphasis since spring ball, hitting the deep ball.”

While Ash and Cramsey each lauded the play of MSU’s quarterbacks, the Bobcat head coach saw much to like at the other end of the passing game, too. “(Senior receiver Brian) Flotkoetter was very solid, I thought in the team pass segment Tiai Salanoa looked good, Brandon Davis looked good,” Ash said. “I’m very happy with the passing game after one week, and by that I’m including everyone – receivers, tight ends, and running backs.”

Ash said that considerable work remains to assign roles in the pass-catching segment of the game. “We have 12 to 14 guys who we’re looking at to fill those positions (not occupied by the five offensive linemen or the quarterback). There are some young guys that might figure in. That’s how we’ll spend the next week, honing down who pays where. I’m intrigued to see who emerges, and it’s exciting because there’s a lot of talent there.”

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While Ash said there were plenty of positives on offense in MSU’s scrimmage yesterday, he was extremely encouraged by the Bobcat defense. “I though the defense was really good,” he said, “especially the ones. There was good pressure, the tackling was good, it was a strong performance.”

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Jake Bleskin remains in competition for the starting job he’s chased for three years now – at quarterback – but his journey that began in the spring toward MSU’s starting punter role continues to pick up steam. “Jake continues to impress me at punter,” Ash said. “He’s been consistent, and is doing a very good job.”

— MSU Sports Information 

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