Big plays are a problem handled by Montana State’s defense – Skyline Sports

The number of big plays the Montana State defense has given up so far this season gives some of the flashbacks to the Bobcats’ 2015 team.

Unlike 2015, however, MSU’s defense has been solid between getting ripped off by opposing offenses and some of those breakdowns have gone against special team coverage units.

In 2015, MSU allowed 34.3 points per game, 247.5 rushing yards, 225.1 passing yards, and 472.6 total yards for the season. It’s not as bad so far in 2022, as the Bobcats are allowing 33.3 points per game, 161.8 rushing, 200.8 passing and 362.6 total offense (these numbers include one loss 68-28 against a strong Oregon State team out of the PAC-12, MSU played no FBS team in 2015 and played Division II Fort Lewis that year).

In four games this season, the MSU defense has given up 10 plays for 25 yards and six for 30 (80, 75, 66, 56, 31, 31, 28, 27, 26, and 26 yards). Special teams coverage units allowed a 38-yard run on a false punt, 80 and 33-yard punt returns, and an 80-yard kickoff return.

“That can’t be our MO,” MSU head coach Brent Vigen said after the Gold Rush game against McNeese State. “We have to make the teams go far and we didn’t do that tonight.”

In four games in 2015, MSU allowed 15 plays for 25 yards and 12 for 30 (78, 62, 45, 44, 43, 38, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 28, 27, and 26 ) and one of those teams was Fort Lewis, which gained 277 yards that day. This team would go on to allow 38 plays for 25 yards during the season, including 30 for 30 yards.

In a game against Portland State, the Vikings had five runners with 10 yards or more and seven receivers with receptions of 15 yards or more. Even East Tennessee State, which was in its first season as a football program and was staffed almost exclusively by freshmen, had plays for 37 and 29 yards. The Buccaneers unexpectedly gained 376 yards that night. Despite his 63-7 victory, the season-ending performance played a role in the sacking of Rob Ash, who was the winningest coach in MSU history.

While the 2022 Bobcats are nowhere near the pace of the 2015 team, big games are always a concern. They averted disaster last Saturday in Cheney, Wash., where the Eagles swung out and connected for 56-yard and 28-yard touchdown passes by Micah Smith and a 14-10 lead. The MSU defense settled after that and allowed just 104 yards over the next 40:06, but a whopping 80-yard connection between EWU quarterback Gunner Talkington and wide receiver Freddie Roberson not only blew up this run, but brought all the momentum back to EWU. foster.

Montana State lead linebacker Callahan O’Reilly bares Morehead State quarterback / by Blake Hempstead

The McNeese State game was similar. Morehead State had no significant offensive plays and Oregon State had no plays for 30 yards or more outside of special teams returns. But Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan averaged 14.7 yards per pass and threw 11 strikes on first down to go along with four touchdowns.

The Cowboys hit the Bobcats early with a 75-yard touchdown run, then had a 66-yard TD pass play. They mixed in a pair of 31-yard runs that caught Vigen’s eye.

“We gave up a couple big plays and that’s not where we want to be,” Vigen said after McNeese State’s win. “At the end of the day, we got up when needed.”

“Two big games in particular. I think the first one (75-yard TD run) we were a little too aggressive at the back and they came into the secondary and we had no one home. The second (66-yard TD pass play that had about 55 yards after the catch) we missed a few tackles.

Unlike 2015, the Bobcats have been very strong between big plays. McNeese gained 203 yards on four plays, but only 100 yards on his other 44 plays. EWU had 164 yards on three plays, but only 175 on the other 52 plays it ran.

The Bobcats gave up 193 yards in returns in the third quarter alone against Oregon State and the Beavers were able to move the ball at will throughout the game as MSU only got saves when OSU had was held to a field goal attempt which she missed and when the Beavers took a knee late in the game.

Montana State will be looking to clean up mistakes on defense this Saturday night when they take on UC Davis at Bobcat Stadium at 8:15 a.m.

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