BOZEMAN — Jeff Choate has complimented Casey Bauman’s arm strength, and it’s obvious when you watch the 6-foot-7, 235-pound quarterback that he can let it rip when given the chance.
Yet Bauman really only put much heat on one pass during Montana State’s second fall scrimmage Saturday at Bobcat Stadium, and it was too far out of the reach of receiver Travis Jonsen, who probably would have run for a long touchdown had he been able to corral it.
The scrimmage was Bauman’s first opportunity to play in a public game-like setting since being named the starter last Monday. Choate, MSU’s fourth-year coach, gave a mixed-bag evaluation of Bauman afterward.
“I thought he did some nice things. He operated well,” Choate said. “He had a couple throws I think he’d like to have back. He missed a glance route to Travis that I think probably would have gone for a big gain for us, but he also threw one right in on Travis that Travis has to bring in down on the goal line.
“Everybody’s got their opportunities to make plays and they’ve got to make them, and that’s where we’ve got to go from here. That’s my takeaway. We had some miscues early in drives that put us behind the sticks, and we can’t do that. That’s not who we are.
“We’ve got to be really efficient, make good decisions, and that starts with Casey at the quarterback position.”
The first- and second-team offenses ran only about 25 plays each, and Bauman finished 2 for 6 for 34 yards with one interception, though he did run for a 1-yard touchdown. Bauman’s best throw was a 25-yarder down the sideline to an outstretched Kevin Kassis.
Though it didn’t show all of its cards, the first-team offense got creative on its first series, as Bauman, Jonsen and linebacker Troy Andersen all took snaps during what was an up-tempo drive. Andersen scampered 10 yards for a first down while Jonsen carried four times for 19 yards.
“I thought we were in a pretty good rhythm,” Choate said. “We really just gave the offense Troy for one series, and so they kind of needed to maximize him. Obviously we didn’t open the whole playbook up tonight, so it was just kind of one, really two plays basically that we called with him in there.
“It was good to see some flow and some rhythm, and that’s something we know we’re going to have to do to have that diversity and have some different packages.”
“I think we’re kind of used to that tempo,” added senior left tackle Mitch Brott. “We’re getting better at it, so I’m excited to see how we can push it this year. Personally I thought we did well tempo-wise today, so I’m excited to see what can happen.”
Both the offense and defense had positive moments. Wideout Davine Tullis scored the day’s first touchdown when he made a tough catch in the end zone on a 30-yard pass from Ruben Beltran with a defender draped all over him.
Running back Logan Jones scored on a 6-yard run as he pinballed off the defensive line. A 23-yard end-around run by Kassis set up that score.
The defense scored a touchdown when cornerback Ty’Rese Gibson jarred the ball loose from receiver James Campbell and linebacker Jory Choate ran the fumble back 45 yards to the end zone.
Defensive back Eric Zambrano intercepted Bauman down the sideline on a pass intended for Kassis, while linebacker Sal Aguilar picked off a Beltran throw that deflected off the hands of intended target Treyton Pickering.
Linebacker Blake Flovin, meanwhile, recorded two sacks on freshman QB Blake Thelen.
It was a good day for the kickers. Senior Tristan Bailey hit two 50-yard field goals, while freshman Caleb Mancini made a 25-yard attempt.
Running back Isaiah Ifanse rushed seven times for 47 yards. Shane Perry had a big day on the ground, rushing for 69 yards on 10 attempts. Backup quarterback Tucker Rovig completed 6 of 12 passes for 63 yards. Lance McCutcheon led the receivers with three catches for 25 yards.
Freshman linebacker-turned-running back Jaharie Martin rushed for 25 yards on five carries.
Defensive lineman Seer Deines had one tackle for loss, while Andersen and defensive backs Ty’Rhae Gibson and Elijah King each broke up passes. Gibson’s came in single coverage against McCutcheon on a deep ball down the sideline.
Sunday is “roll call” day for the team, meaning the coaches will meet with each player individually to clarify roles and explain expectations. The Bobcats will return to practice Monday to begin its “mock” game-week preparation for their Aug. 31 opener at Texas Tech.