Cats hit the field

As summer starts to wind down, August action on the gridiron starts to heat up. The opening of fall camp arrives full of hope and renewed expectations for teams across the nation — not least of all for the Montana State Bobcats and the rest of their Big Sky Conference counterparts. As a surprising 2013 MSU season showed, pre-season predictions can be derailed by injuries and the ups and downs of football.

With that in mind, both the conference coaches and the media released their preseason predictions. In both polls, the Bobcats were ranked third, with Eastern Washington leading the pack and the UM Grizzlies coming in second. The EWU Eagles were a near unanimous selection in first place, and that’s no surprise. The Eagles ran the table last season and will look to do so again with returning superstar quarterback Vernon Adams at the helm. The Cats were nationally recognized as well, coming in at No. 19 of 25 in the inaugural FCS Coaches Poll.

The Bobcats remain well within striking distance but must answer some big questions in the coming weeks. The loss of offensive juggernauts DeNarius McGhee and Cody Kirk to graduation as well as losses due to injury and ineligibility further reducing an already short-handed linebacking corps, the Cats will look for players to step up and compete.

That said, the Bobcats still possess plenty of firepower in all three aspects of the game, offense, defense and special teams. Offensive guard JP Flynn and cornerback Deonte Flowers join special teams standouts Shawn Johnson and Chad Newell on the preseason all conference lists. The Cats kick off their season on Aug. 30 against Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The Gold Rush game Sept. 6 against Black Hills State in Bobcat Stadium.