BOZEMAN — Montana State is expecting to turn to the ground game as it did in years past. And because of that, the Bobcats will depend on their offensive line to pave the way toward scoring points.
In 2019, the Bobcats led the Big Sky and were eighth in the nation with 258.1 rushing yards per game. They set a single-season program record with 3,871 yards on the ground. MSU’s offensive line also tied a Big Sky-best with 14 sacks allowed in 2019.
Though MSU lost exceptional talent at the position, the team still brings back key offensive linemen who have all stood out while starting since they were freshmen.
“I do think it’s a group we can lean on. In this offense, that’s where it starts,” MSU head coach Brent Vigen said. “You can mask things up in different ways, but if you’re good up front, you have a chance to be really good across the board.”
Lewis Kidd, who has played guard in the past, is slated to be MSU’s left tackle. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound senior was second-team all-conference as a junior and has started 33 straight games in his career.
Taylor Tuiasosopo, at 6-4, 300 pounds, is also a senior and was a third-team all-Big Sky guard in 2019. He has started 28 games since he was a freshman in 2017.
He also was a preseason all-Big Sky selection. He is listed as the team’s right guard.
Zach Redd, a 6-1, 295-pound junior, was MSU’s primary starter at center in 2019. He’s played at other spots along the interior offensive line depending on who was healthy. He is listed as the team’s starting left guard.
“We’ve got some older guys,” MSU offensive line coach Brian Armstrong said previously, “and it’s great at practice and in meetings to hear them coaching each other, to hear them coach the younger guys and taking some ownership in their role and pride in their position and bringing the younger guys along, which I think is as critical as anything.”
Cole Sain and TJ Session, neither of which have played a game yet for the Bobcats, are in line to make significant contributions this season.
Bobcats coaches have been high on Session, who has emerged as the team’s leading right tackle. The 6-4, 288-pound redshirt freshman was listed as a backup after the spring but was bumped up to starter at the beginning of fall camp.
Sain, a 6-4, 280-pound sophomore transfer, was the starting center after this spring and at the beginning of fall camp. He enrolled at MSU in 2020. He redshirted at Montana in 2018 and then transferred to Riverside Community College in California and started there before joining the Bobcats. He was a three-star recruit according to 247Sports out of St. John Bosco in California.
“Just hard workers,” Bobcats offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright said of Session and Sain. “They’re very goal-oriented and they want what’s best for the team. I’m always pushing them, and they want that. They want to be coached and they want to be pushed.”
Also, 6-5, 299-pound freshman left tackle Rush Reimer, 6-5, 305-pound junior left guard Dylan Porter and 6-4, 286-pound sophomore right guard Joe McElroy are backups on the depth chart. Redshirt freshmen Jack Harlow (6-2, 290) and Justus Perkins (5-11, 285) are the centers listed behind Sain.
Most recently, the Bobcats lost Connor Wood, a junior tackle who had played at an all-conference level in 2019, but an injury held him out of four of MSU’s last six games. Wood transferred to Missouri following spring practices.
From the 2019 season, Mitch Brott graduated. Brott set MSU’s career consecutive start streak at 50. He was a second-team all-American and first-team all-Big Sky selection at left tackle.
When Wood missed time in 2019, Jake Sessions started games at right tackle. Denver Krone also served as a starting center that season. However, both have moved on from the program.
Aaron Richards (6-4, 290 pounds), Holden Sampson (6-2, 287), Shayden King (6-5, 301), Cole Snyder (6-6, 298), Titan Fleischmann (6-4, 260), Conor Reitler (6-4, 305) and Jacob Kettels (6-4, 287) are listed as freshmen.