BOZEMAN — It’s a situation that not many college football programs face, but in his first season as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the NCAA Division I level, Justin Udy finds himself with an unusual trio at Montana State.
“It’s an interesting challenge,” MSU coach Jeff Choate said. “We’ve got three guys that have all played football at the Division I level, we’ve got three guys that have all won games at the Division I level, we’ve got three guys that are all talented and have unique skill sets. And on top of that they’re all great guys.”
To punctuate the unusual nature of the situation, MSU football was in the middle of offseason team activities leading to spring practice, which was called off in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That leaves Udy meeting virtually with his quarterbacks: Casey Bauman, who opened the 2019 season as MSU’s starter; 12-game starter Tucker Rovig; and North Carolina State transfer Matthew McKay.
“It’s been a challenge,” Udy said of web-based meetings. “I think there’s always an initial learning curve, but we’ve been able to get through that this first week back from spring break. We all have a better feel for what we need to do to be successful and productive.
“Not everyone is up to speed on technology, so it’s been a little easier with the smaller position groups in terms of numbers. We have a small (number of players in the) room so it’s easier for me to manage that.”
A non-coaching analyst the past three seasons — last year at Texas Tech and at Utah State the previous two years — Udy has enjoyed leading a veteran group.
“It’s been refreshing for me,” he said. “The biggest disappointment is that we want to see those guys compete against each other and right now it’s in a different format, but it’s been great to see how those three guys have responded and the approach they’re taking with what’s going on right now.”
Choate is less worried about the competitive nature of MSU’s three quarterbacks and more concerned with parsing out the repetitions once practice resumes.
“They’re going to support one another, they’re going to compete and handle things the right way, but it’s going to be a challenge, especially without spring ball, to make sure we give those guys the appropriate amount of reps,” he said.
The time will come, Udy knows, when he’ll get to watch his three quarterbacks battle. And he can’t wait.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the quarterback position has to lead us in 2020," he said, "and those guys have approached it like they’re going to be able to do that.”