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Daly finds a home in Bozeman
It wasn’t Homecoming Saturday here at Bobcat Stadium as Montana State throttled Northern Arizona 41-24 in a Big Sky Conference football game.
But to sophomore defensive end Brad Daly, every game feels a little like a welcome-back-to-campus deal.
Daly, a former Helena Capital star and the younger brother of ex-Bobcat All-American linebacker Bobby Daly, continued to make a memorable return to football field with a three-sack performance that contributed mightily to another MSU victory. It was the the Bobcats’ sixth consecutive victory, but it was the first time that Daly had earned a spot at the postgame press conference.
And he was smiling broadly about that late Saturday afternoon.
“It feels great to be back,” said Daly. “I loved to work, but I love this a whole lot more.”
Daly, the Class AA defensive player of the year a few seasons ago at Capital, played in 10 games for the Cats as a freshman in 2009. But he decided to leave school and missed the 2010 campaign, choosing instead to go to work.
Now he’s back, and the Bobcat defense is all the better for it.
“He really making a statement out there. He’s having fun,” said MSU head coach Rob Ash. “It’s great to have him back. He’s so explosive.”
Daly doesn’t start for the Cats. He’s what you might call a specialist, and he’s got a specialty all right.
“I’m sent in to go get the quarterback,” Daly said. “And it really helps having the crowd get so loud. They’re a lot slower off the ball when the crowd gets loud.”
Offensive linemen always seem to be moving in slow motion against the cat-quick Daly. It’s an attribute his big brother had, too. Their father, J. Daly, also played football at Montana State. But if quickness is Brad Daly’s game, gridiron success didn’t appear to be coming so fast last season when the former Capital star left school.
The highlights are coming fast and furiously these days, though. Daly, a 6-foot-1, 232-pounder, is among the Big Sky Conference leaders with six sacks on the year.
“It’s a case of where he knew best what he wanted to do,” Ash said of Daly’s freshman season. “We tried to make him a linebacker, and he just didn’t feel comfortable.”
When Daly rejoined the team, he asked Ash about playing defensive end. That’s where he’d been such a dynamite performer for the Capital Bruins.
“I said you’re probably too small, but we’ll give it a try,” Ash said with a smile. “And he’s not too small, let me tell you. He gets it done out there.”
The entire Bobcat defense has been doing the job this season. Montana State’s game plan Saturday was to shut down the vaunted Northern Arizona running game. Thanks to a defensive line that includes Caleb Schreibeis, Christian Keli’l and Daly, plus middle linebacker Clay Bignell, it was a done deal.
“Offensively we got a little bit out of our game,” said NAU head coach Jerome Souers. “We need to be able to run the football, and they did a good job defending some of the things we were doing with the run … Our kids didn’t give up, but we played a better team today.”
To be sure, the Bobcats are a better team with Daly aboard. It seem as if it’s been that way for years and years, for big brother Bobby was a four-year star who played on some glorious MSU defenses not so very many years ago.
On Saturday, Brad Daly was clearly enjoying the first postgame press conference of his MSU career. How, he was asked, can the Bobcats can continue week after week to be so highly motivated?
“This feeling right here. You’ve got to remember this,” he said with a grin. “This is what you play for.”
Brad Daly plays for more than himself, it turns out. His brother was in the stands this day.
“And he brought a couple of Bruins, too,” said Brad with another smile.
And that means a lot.
“I don’t want to let him down,” Brad said. “I’ve always looked up to him. I just want to live up to the name.”
By Scott Mansch, Great Falls Tribune