Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
The age-old axiom that production on one side of the football is pain on the other showed up in Montana State's Triangle Classic scrimmage in Great Falls on Saturday.
The Bobcat defense held the offense in check for much of the day, forcing two fumbles and an interception and holding the top two offensive units to around 250 yards. But second-year coach Jeff Choate said there were opportunities capitalized on and missed by both units.
"I was obviously pleased with the production of the defense, Choate said. "I thought our offense had opportunities that we squandered not finishing pays. If the offense takes advantage of opportunities and finishes plays there's probably four touchdowns the offense left out there."
The defense recovered a couple of fumbles and intercepted a pass, as well. West Wilson intercepted a Kamden Brown pass, while Will Martell and Grant Collins each forced fumbles. Collins said the takeaways were the product of environment. "I thought we had really good energy today. We've worked hard on (forcing) turnovers this spring, that's been an emphasis and it's important to us."
Two running backs vying for elevated roles in the fall logged productive afternoons. Junior Noah James rambled for 40 yards on 10 carries, and sophomore Anthony Pegues caught Choate's eye with his 43 yards on 10 carries. "He did some things that when you don't go live or you don't get as many turns as you'd like in spring ball are tough to see, but I thought he showed good vision and finished runs. It was nice to see that."
One of the eye-popping moments of the afternoon was provided by a player involved in so many as a freshman last fall.Quarterback Chris Murray dashed 70 yards for a touchdown. Choate wasn't listening to defensive players who claimed to have tagged off on the signal caller who was wearing a red jersey to signify no-contact status. "I'm surry," Choate laughed, "you're not tackling Chris Murray on that play. I've seen that one happen a few times"
Choate also liked the play of MSU's defensive front seven. "I thought Jacob Hadley had a good day," he said of the redshirt freshman linebacker who logged two sacks and another tackle-for-loss. "Our presence of our interior guys on the D-line starting to show up. The presence and maturity of a guy like Chase Benson, a guy like Tyrone Fa'anono who's a consistent player, Brandon Hayashi, who I think's had a tremendous off-season and spring, are showing up."
The spring's first scrimmage always brings mistakes that are eliminated by time and experience, and Choate saw some of that Saturday, particularly from the offense. "I would like to think that we're not going to drop balls today," he said. "That was probably the most frustrating part. It was the first time we had officials, that changes the dynamic a little bit."
The Bobcats now move into the home stretch of spring drills, with practice #10 on Wednesday and #11 on Friday at 7:05 pm. Friday's practice, Choate said, will feature more live play. "Just another chance to go out and play ball."