Jeff Choate

Jeff Choate will begin his fourth season as Montana State's head coach Saturday at Texas Tech.

BOZEMAN — When Casey Bauman was named the starter at quarterback on Aug. 12, some of the intrigue surrounding Montana State’s depth chart for its season opener at Texas Tech may have been lost.

The most notable position battle that remained undecided was at inside linebacker, where as many as seven players were fighting it out. Tight end and cornerback were also under the microscope toward the end of fall camp.

The Bobcats gave a first glimpse at what their starting lineup will look like for Week 1 when they released their depth chart on Sunday.

Billings Senior product Nolan Askelson (6-1, 222), a redshirt freshman, is listed No. 1 at the inside “Mike” linebacker position, ahead of Callahan O’Reilly and transfer Blake Flovin. Fifth-year senior Josh Hill (5-11, 210) has been named the starter at the other inside “Will” spot in front of Michael Jobman and Walker Cozzie.

The inside linebackers are flanked by strong-side starter Troy Andersen, who was the starting quarterback last season, and “Buck” edge defender Amandre Williams. Andersen (6-4, 233) is listed ahead of Daniel Hardy and Tadan Gilman, while Williams (6-2, 235), a University of Washington transfer, is backed up by Kyle Finch.

Andersen is also listed among the quarterback and running back groups, and is expected to maintain a role on offense.

Sophomore Chad Kanow is not listed among the three-deep linebacker group.

Ryan Davis (6-4, 240), a Billings Skyview product, appears in the No. 1 tight end spot ahead of former Billings Central standout Jacob Hadley, who is transitioning from outside linebacker. The No. 3 tight end is true freshman Ryan Lonergan from Bozeman High.

R.J. Fitzgerald (5-10, 225) is listed No. 1 at fullback ahead of Derryk Snell. 

The starting cornerbacks are senior Damien Washington (5-11, 190) and sophomore Ty’Rhae Gibson (6-1, 170). Preseason all-conference selection Greg Filer was injured in fall camp and is not named to the depth chart.

True to the previous announcement, Bauman, a 6-6, 235 redshirt freshman from Sumas, Washington, is listed No. 1 at quarterback ahead of Tucker Rovig, Ruben Beltran and Andersen.

The Texas Tech game will mark Bauman’s first career start, but not his first game action. Bauman played briefly and completed his only pass attempt during a victory at home against Cal Poly last November.

Bauman will be protected by an offensive line that from left to right will start tackle Mitch Brott (6-6, 300), guard Taylor Tuiasosopo (6-4, 316), center Zach Redd (6-1, 285), guard Lewis Kidd (6-6, 312) and tackle Connor Wood (6-5, 302). Jake Sessions is listed at both left guard and right tackle, and is the team’s sixth lineman.

Coming off a 1,000-yard season, sophomore Isaiah Ifanse (5-10, 202) is No. 1 among at tailback, with Logan Jones, Karl Tucker II and Andersen backing him up.

Kevin Kassis (6-0, 200) and Travis Jonsen (6-4, 210) are listed as the No. 1 outside receivers while Willie Patterson (5-9, 165) is the starter in the slot, backed up by Coy Steel. Bozeman High alum Lance McCutcheon and Billings Central's Peyton Hanser are backups on the outside.

Two other Washington dropdowns will start on the defensive line: End Bryce Sterk (6-5, 261), who had 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last season for the Bobcats, and nose Jason Scrempos (6-6, 299), a graduate transfer. Derek Marks (6-2, 259) is No. 1 at the tackle position, which is a move from his previous position at defensive end. Chase Benson will back up Scrempos.

As expected, seniors Brayden Konkol (6-2, 215) and Jahque Alleyne (6-1, 185) are the starters at the two safety positions.

Fourth-year coach Jeff Choate said he wants Patterson to make an impact as a punt returner, and he is listed No. 1 there ahead of Kassis. Jones, meanwhile, is listed as the primary kickoff returner.

Tristan Bailey and Jered Padmos are the placekicker and punter, respectively.

MSU’s game at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, is scheduled to kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. Mountain time.

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Email Greg Rachac at Greg.Rachac@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregrachac

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