BOZEMAN — The Sonny Holland Classic is less than 24 hours away and Montana State head football coach Brent Vigen and his staff are ready to see what their players have with the lights shining on them.
“While we won’t have our full complement out there, I think there’ll be a buzz there and that’s exciting,” Vigen said of playing in front of 2,500 fans. “I think it’ll certainly be the first glimpse the public gets to to see of our newly stamped Bobcat football program.”
Not many starting jobs are up for grabs. For the Bobcats, it’s about solidifying depth with the backups.
“I think those kind of battles are still in front of us,” Vigen said. “We’re not playing with some of our starters on the defensive line or the secondary for that matter, but those backup positions are very much up for grabs.”
As for what fans can expect, they’re not going to see much of the actual plays that Montana State will be running come Saturdays in the fall. It will be vanilla.
“As coaches, you see the spring game a little different than the fan I think,” said offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright. “We see it more as, let’s get through this thing with no injuries and not showing a whole lot of what we’re actually going to be like (and players) have fun. I think for the fan, they want to see what it’s going to look like Week One. It ain’t going to look like it’s supposed to look Week One, I can tell you that.”
However, fans will see many of the offensive starters, but fewer on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re healthier on offense. I think the guys ultimately that we’ll hope to see on Saturdays in the fall will be out there on Saturday,” said Vigen. “I think defensively some guys will be playing different spots. I think the structure of the defense will look different. We won’t have as many of those guys playing on Saturdays in the fall out there. I think the mindset is it’s a sound-looking outfit, guys are where they’re supposed to be.”
Housewright would like to see his offense not turnover the ball.
“I’d like to see us just take care of the ball and move people up front and make sure we’re making educated passes and really looking for high completions,” he said.
Since he was first introduced, new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks has stated he wants his defense to play fast, and Saturday is no different.
“We won’t be doing anything fancy on defense, we’ll be playing base calls,” he said. “I want to see them have great fundamentals, have their eyes in the right spot and that’ll help them play fast. Ultimately, it’s on them how hard they play.”
Vigen has seen a lot of growth with his team, specifically in the fundamentals.
“While not maybe as consistent with assignments throughout (spring camp) as ultimately we’ll get, I think they understand the foundation of what we’re trying to do and have grown fundamentally,” he said. “You can change schemes all you want, but you better make some strides fundamentally through the course of the spring and I think we’ve been able to do that.”
With spring ball basically over, it’ll be up to the players and coaches to regroup and adapt heading into fall camp to solidify how they want to play when it’s game time at Wyoming on Sept. 4, their first game of the season.
“I think it’s up to our guys in June and July to really focus on that continued strength and conditioning development and coaches to figure out what schemes are going to put us in the best position in the fall to win games,” Vigen said.
The Sonny Holland Classic begins at 1 p.m. Saturday.