Five Things to Watch: Northern Colorado in the State of Montana | Bobcats MSU



BOZEMAN – The Northern Colorado soccer team won their first game at Bobcat Stadium, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat Montana State 14-10 September 27, 2003. MSU has beaten the Bears 10 straight times since then.

The 11th-ranked Bobcats (3-1, 1-0 Big Sky) will look to make 11 in a row when they host the UNC (2-2, 1-0) at Bobcat Stadium this Saturday. MSU is 22-10-1 against UNC in their matchup history.

“We come to win,” UNC defensive back Jerone Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “Going into the underdog would be a great opportunity to shock the world and let the conference know that the UNC Bears are here to play.”

Here are five things to watch in Saturday’s Big Sky game, which kicks off at 1:05 pm It will air on stations ABC Montana, SWX in Billings and ESPN +. It will also be broadcast on the Bobcat Radio Network and

The holes of the UNC

UNC head coach Ed McCaffrey said Wednesday that some important players, including starters, have not returned from COVID-19 quarantines. He did not specify who these players were, but he did note that unvaccinated bears that contract COVID and unvaccinated close contacts are forced to self-quarantine.

“It’s hard to train and play when you don’t have all of your players, or if they train for part of the week and then they’re gone, so whoever supports them doesn’t not had the representatives “, McCaffrey told reporters on Wednesday. “This is the biggest challenge # 1 for me and for our program.

UNC were 25% missing from their roster due to quarantines in their 17-10 overtime loss to Lamar two weeks ago, McCaffrey said. The Bears are mostly vaccinated and had just five COVID-related absences left shortly before last week’s 17-10 overtime win over northern Arizona, according to the Greeley Tribune, but COVID still prevents them from presenting a full list.

MSU had a vaccination rate of around 90% before the season, according to head coach Brent Vigen. The Bobcats have not reported any absence caused by COVID so far this season.

The UNC coronavirus concerns might not affect MSU’s game plan, but the Bobcats might try to target backups filling starters in quarantine. These inactive players also reduce UNC’s margin of error. If the Bears are injured in Saturday’s game, the opportunity for surprise could evaporate.

MSU’s passing game

Portland State’s flexible defense caused problems for MSU quarterback Matthew McKay at the start of the Bobcats’ 30-17 win last week, mostly because of all the pre-snap moves, McKay said. at a press conference Monday (the junior redshirt went 8 for 15 for 108 yards, no touchdown and a first-half interception).

Montana State quarterback Matthew McKay talks about Saturday’s win over Portland State, the upcoming home game against Northern Colorado, his father and more at a press conference on Monday, September 27, 2021 at the Bobcat Athletic Conference in Bozeman.

UNC’s 3-3-5 or 3-3-stack defense isn’t that confusing, but McKay’s day could be just as tough.

Vigen saw that defense at 3-3 from Texas State and Tulsa in 2019, when he was Wyoming’s offensive coordinator. MSU offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright also prepared for this last year, when Oregon faced Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl (Housewright was an offensive analyst for Oregon at the era).

“It’s become more and more of a defense that can really slow the pass down because you lose a bit of an eight in coverage, but you’re deployed enough to stop the run,” Vigen said on Monday. “It has an unusual flavor. This is probably the only time in 11 games you’ll see him.

Seeing the 3-3 stack twice in three weeks two years ago gives Vigen some confidence the Bobcats can have a productive attacking game on Saturday. But each team “has its own twist on it,” he added.

“They’re really active with their top five, really good players, and then at the high school level they play a lot of zone,” said Vigen, “so you have to be patient, take what they give you. It’s really a bend but don’t break philosophy.

Montana State Offensive Coordinator Taylor Housewright talks to the media about the Bobcats’ performance in Portland State, their upcoming game against northern Colorado, “Wilderness” Tommy Mellott, the loss of Coy Steel and more on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at the Bobcat Sports Complex in Bozeman.

MSU cornerbacks

Bobcats starting cornerback James Campbell left the Portland State game with an injury, and while Vigen doesn’t expect the junior to be out for long, he is not on the table of two. depths for Saturday’s game against UNC.

True freshman Simeon Woodard will replace Campbell, who impressed his coaches this fall. Behind Woodard on both depths is Tyrel Thomas, a senior who missed the first four games with a knee injury he sustained at fall camp that required surgery.

Thomas was active in last week’s game but didn’t play. His availability was mainly “from an emergency standpoint,” Vigen said last Saturday. Vigen seemed more optimistic about Thomas’ chances of playing against UNC, and Campbell’s absence creates more urgency to get Thomas’s reps.

UNC’s passing offense has been decent in four games (807 yards, six touchdowns, two INTs, 61% completion rate), and the Bears have a strong No. 1 receiver in the sophomore year. of redshirt Kassidy Woods (20 catches, 255 yards, one TD). The 6-foot-4, 220-pound transfer to Washington state will be a handful for Woodard, Thomas and / or Eric Zambrano, the other starting corner from MSU.

Montana State head coach Brent Vigen speaks to the media following the Bobcats’ 30-17 victory over Portland State on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillsboro, Oregon.

MSU Kick and Punt Turners

MSU’s best punt return of the season came at a cost.

Last week, Coy Steel returned a third-quarter punt from 45 yards in Portland State territory. He was injured on the play, was helped off the field and spent the remainder of the game on crutches.

Vigen said on Monday that Steel suffered “a serious injury and will be out for a long time.” The junior redshirt was an important receiver and he showed his punt value beyond that 45-yard return.

Junior Cam Gardner is now on the Bobcats’ punt returner list, and behind him is fellow junior wide receiver Willie Patterson, who returned punters in MSU’s season opener loss in the Wyoming. Gardner, a transfer from Utah, also returned kicks last Saturday, although he is listed as the substitute for second red running back Lane Sumner on the latest kick return depth chart.

Sumner was injured in MSU’s home opener against Drake on September 11, according to Vigen. Like Thomas, Sumner was on the depth chart last week but didn’t play. Vigen didn’t mention Sumner in his Monday press conference, but the last two depth charts indicate a comeback for the Project Huntley graduate, possibly both in special teams and on offense.

Montana State’s Coy Steel catches a pass and is tackled by Drake’s Danny Morales on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Bobcat Stadium.

MSU energy

MSU players said the warm weather and the small crowd (just over 4,000) at Hillsboro Stadium last week contributed to their slow start. Bozeman is less humid than the Portland area and the forecast for Saturday calls for a high of around 70 degrees. Attendance at the UNC match will be closer to 20,000 than 4,000.

Saturday’s environment should see the Bobcats come out with more energy than they did against the Vikings. But, as Vigen hypothetically asked after the Portland State game, “What is energy?” Is the energy working well?

“We were able to create energy, which meant we played better,” Vigen said with a smile.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.