Cats close spring ball with confidence in Sonny Holland Classic

Spring practice is a time for football teams to brave the elements and take to the field in preparation for summer training. The MSU Bobcats have emerged from their winter slumber indoors and begun to practice in the stadium for the past couple weeks now.

This past Friday, April 15, was a special day in the Bobcats’ training schedule. The Montana State football team went head-to-head against itself in its annual Sonny Holland Spring Game. The scrimmage is a series of miniature contests between the offensive lines and the defensive packages (line-ups consisting of alternating player combinations) that are all compiled into one large competition. These line-ups go head-to-head to test each side of the ball’s performance in game-like scenarios. This scrimmage is vital in the planning process for the development of the Cats’ summer training program, as it highlights areas where the team needs to work on the upcoming summer months and it allows the coaches time to adjust the upcoming practice schedule to address these weaknesses.

With a new coach at the head of the program, the players have been adjusting to a new training regiment and coaching staff. Jeff Choate, the MSU head coach, said, “I am pleased with where we’re at in terms of the kids’ willingness to take the coaching we’re giving them, understanding the structure and the discipline we need to have to be successful, and I think we’ve laid the foundation for kids to take ownership over this thing in the summer and really work hard to elevate their play in the fall.”

All three offensive drives featured multiple first downs, with two drives resulting in a score. Tyler Bruggman, a junior quarterback transfer from Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, marched the first offense 70 yards in 10 plays on its second drive, where senior receiver Will Krolick capped off the drive with six-yard touchdown catch. Redshirt freshman kicker Devon Tandberg closed the 14-play drive with a 43-yard field goal.

The Cats’ defense showed resilience Friday night as well, displaying  its trademark tenacity on a couple of key plays that slowed down the offense’s advance. MSU’s defense kept their heads in the game, playing the scrimmage one play at a time and not allowing mistakes to distract them. On more than one occasion the defense was able to stop the offense on a three-and-out.

“It was a good exchange tonight,” Choate said. “What we were looking for is a good, competitive exchange from both sides, and I thought we saw that. I thought the defense did a nice job in the situational, two-minute stuff and were able to limit the offense there. We had some nice drives with our one offense in particular.”

Mitchell Herbert (82) takes a hit from teammate Tanner Hoff (48) during Friday night's Spring Scrimmage in Bobcat Stadium. Photos by Colter Peterson
Mitchell Herbert (82) takes a hit from teammate Tanner Hoff (48) during Friday night’s Spring Scrimmage in Bobcat Stadium. Photos by Colter Peterson
Chad Newell (17) avoids a tackle as he runs the ball in the annual spring scrimage game in Bobcat Stadium Friday night.
Chad Newell (17) avoids a tackle as he runs the ball in the annual spring scrimage game in Bobcat Stadium Friday night.
Junior Nick Lasane (23) breaks out of a tackle during Friday night's Sonny Holland Spring Scrimmage in Bobcat Stadium.
Junior Nick Lasane (23) breaks out of a tackle during Friday night’s Sonny Holland Spring Scrimmage in Bobcat Stadium.

Ultimately, the scrimmage turned out to be a success as the Cats head into the summer training season with high hopes. “At times there were ups and downs,” Bruggman said, “but that’s the sign of a great team when both sides of the ball can have success.”