BOZEMAN — Spring weather doesn’t appear ready to commence any time soon, and neither does spring football at Montana State.
MSU’s first practice, initially scheduled for Friday, has been pushed to a yet-to-be-determined day next week, Bobcats coach Jeff Choate said. Citing “poor weather and surface conditions,” Choate indicated the team’s first practice is likely to occur sometime late in the first full week of March.
Once practices begin, Choate will oversee an offense featuring full-time starters returning at nine of the 11 positions, and a retooled defensive coaching staff. Two former Bobcat All-Americans (Kane Ioane as defensive coordinator and Bobby Daly as linebackers coach) have rejoined the program, which returns seven starters on defense.
Quality experience returns at every position group on the team, particularly up front. Senior Derek Marks brings experience inside and out to one defensive end spot, while rush end Bryce Sterk led the Big Sky in sacks a season ago.
On the offensive front, every starter returns but center Alex Neale from a unit that allowed the fewest sacks and produced the second-most rushing touchdowns in the Big Sky while, amazingly, not landing a single player on the All-Big Sky First Team. Senior tackle Mitch Brott has started every game of his Bobcat career, and anchors the group.
Among the subplots to Montana State’s 2019 spring session is the presence of three returning starting quarterbacks. Junior Chris Murray started in 2016 and ’17, but when he missed 2018 due to academics ineligibility Troy Andersen stepped in. Now a junior, Andersen is likely to play either linebacker or running back — or both — this season. When Andersen suffered a hand injury last September Tucker Rovig started a pair of games.
Choate has stated that handing the reins to the redshirt freshman while using Andersen in a variety of other roles would have been likely had Rovig not suffered an injury in practice.