Photo Credit: Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Montana State is coming into Martin Stadium looking to become the third Big Sky program to upset No. 24 WSU in as many years. The Bobcats will be coming into Martin Stadium with second year head coach Jeff Choate — former WSU linebacker’s coach — and a new full time starting quarterback.
MSU is not as good as Eastern, or as good as Portland State turned out to be; Choate’s squad still has glaring talent deficiencies on the interior defensive line and they should struggle against the highly experienced offensive line that will be guarding Luke Falk. While the Bobcats defensive line isn’t extremely talented, they’ll be extremely experienced; two of the four starters are juniors, one is a senior and one is a true freshman. It’s unlikely that Montana State’s defensive line will be able to push around Washington State’s offensive line which means that Luke Falk should have all of the time in the world to work his way through his reads.
This is going to be one of those games where Falk is going to need to take his time working through his reads. WSU is breaking in a new group of wide starting wide receivers and its going to take time for them to develop timing at game speed. Fortunately they’ll be going up against a weak pass defense that is made worse by Montana State’s in ability to generate a pass rush. As CougCenter’s Brian Anderson put it, the Cougs should score on close to 75% of their offensive possessions.
Don’t be surprised if the Falk is routinely checking down to his running backs (also known as the F position). That’s the position group that the red shirt senior is going to have the best sense of timing with, and that’s a position group that was his favorite target a year ago; which means that Montana State is probably going to be keying on those underneath routes in an attempt to force Falk into targeting wide receivers he isn’t super familiar with. But it’s unlikely that the Bobcats will be able to slow down the production from James Williams, Jamal Morrow, and Gerard Wicks, that trio is just to talented and explosive for any undersized defense to be able to shut them down.
Defensively, Washington State’s thin defensive line is going to get a serious test. MSU is efficient at running the football, and Bobcats quarterback Chris Murray is really good at running the ball as well. But that’s about all Murray excels at, as he’s considered a one demtional quarterback. If the Cougars can contain the run, and their offense piles on the points…they’d be able to force Montana State out of the offensive game plan. Which would make the Bobcats offense even more one dimensional and easier to fluster.
For the first half Falk works the underneath routes with his running backs to move the Cougars down the field. As a result, the offense doesn’t put up points in a hurry, but it slowly grinds down the defensive front seven of the Bobcats. By the time the second half rolls around, the redshirt senior has found his groove and he starts taking shots deep down field…and the WSU offense starts putting up points faster than the scoreboard operator can keeping.
As the offense piles on the points in the second hall, MSU is forced to throw the ball more than it’s comfortable doing. This causes Murray to make a couple of deep throws that his arm can’t handle; the ball hawks in WSU’s secondary pick off these unferthrown passes and get the ball back into the offense’s hands.
Montana State Bobcats 21
Washington State Cougars 65
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