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MSU Bobcats Set for Camp
Casting an eye toward a handful of key personnel battles, Rob Ash opens his third fall camp as Montana State’s head football coach on Monday.
Preseason All-America linemen Dane Fletcher (defensive end, Bozeman) and Jeff Hansen (offensive guard, Great Falls) lead the 90 Bobcats that begin fall drills Monday at 3:30 pm on the MSU practice fields. MSU returns four 2008 starters on the offensive line and three who starter multiple games on the defensive line.
Ash’s attention will drift outward from the line of scrimmage, though, as camp gets underway. “To a greater extent than normal we’ll have to make some personnel decisions during (preseason) camp,” Ash said. “We’re pretty settled on the offensive line and the defensive line, but we’ll have to make decisions at quarterback, running back, receiver, and safety.”
Receiver is the only of the four positions without significant starting experience returning. Senior Derek Green and sophomore DeSean Thomas have spent time in the starting lineup, but transfers Elvis Akpla and Julius Lloyd and true freshmen Everette Gilbert, Gianni Carter and Tanner Bleskin will also compete for time.
Cody Kempt and Mark Iddins each started games at quarterback last fall. Kempt missed spring drills, leaving Iddins with most of the reps, and with the number one spot entering the fall. MSU’s passing game struggled at times in 2008, but Ash is not willing to focus solely on the quarterback position in the program’s quest for improvement. “We need better play at receiver and quarterback, and the offensive line is also part of the equation,” he said.
Ash said offensive scheme tweaks should also play a positive role in a more efficient passing attack. “We’ve tailored down our scheme,” he said. “We’re looking for better execution and productivity, that’s the bottom line.”
A solid ground game could also boost the aerial attack, and CJ Palmer and Aaron Mason each have considerable experience. Redshirt freshman Ricky Evans brings speed and explosiveness to the equation.
Defensively, Arnold Briggs moves from safety to cornerback - his original position - this fall, and Anthony Cosme joins preseason returning All-Big Sky safety Kevin Retoriano and returning reserve Jordan Craney at safety. The veteran cornerback corps of Cory Nicol and Briggs, along with the safety trio, gives MSU strong possibilities in the secondary.
After opening drills at 3:30 pm Monday, the Bobcats practice at 3 pm the rest of the week. MSU dons pads on Wednesday, August 12, and begins two-a-day practice sessions on Saturday, August 15.
By Montana State University Sports Information