BOZEMAN – Most interested observers will watch Montana State’s first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday for the beginning and the action points of each play. Rob Ash will be watching for the ending.
“You never know how the play ends unless you (tackle to the ground),” Ash said. “You never know if you made the tackle or broke the tackle, so during the scrimmage that’s what we have to find out. Can we tackle? Can we break a tackle? How does the play end?”
The Bobcats continued to ramp up for game mode on Thursday, Ash said, when the defense installed blitz packages and the offense countered by working on its up-tempo concepts. MSU’s eighth-year head coach said that in spite of some anticipated sloppiness he liked what he saw.
“The bullets were flying faster with the blitzes the defense put in today,” he said, “so that rattled our offense a little bit. That was my observation to the team, we’ve got to be able to keep our composure and our execution of throwing and catching the ball. Center snaps, throws out to the flat, those kind of things were not executed as sharply today because there was a little more pressure coming at us. That’s good, we need to create those situations.”
Ash said the defense wasn’t without challenges to work through. “Meanwhile, the defense had more than just one call to think about so they’re looking at the sideline trying to get calls and I thought the offense got a couple of the tempo plays run while the defense was trying to get organized. So there were a couple things on both sides to look at.”
The ability of individuals to process information coaches send their way generally determines how crisp a team looks early in camp, and Ash said there was plenty to like and plenty left to accomplish. “The ones and twos are getting lined up really well,” he said. “It’s still really sloppy and really early. We’re installing new stuff every day and continuing to run the stuff we’ve run the last couple of days. Guys’ heads are starting to spin, but I think on the perimeter we’re starting to have some good execution.”
Montana State’s first limited scrimmage of fall camp comes at the first possible opportunity. A 60-play session featuring 20 plays each from the first, second and third units comes Saturday, during the first full-contact practice of the fall. Practice Saturday begins at 9:15 am, with the team segments coming at around 10:30 am. Ash indicated the team will move the ball without using the chains. Each unit will work in five-play segments. The Bobcats’ first off day of the fall comes Friday.