BOZEMAN — Week 6 officially marks the halfway point for No. 4 Montana State (4-1, 2-0) as the Bobcats turn the page to Idaho State, a Bengals program that may be 0-5 but is coming off a close game against No. 3 Montana, 28-20.
However, even though self-inflicted mistakes by the Griz may have caused the close margin, Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen knows the Bengals are an improving team hungry for their first win.
“There’s new energy," Vigen stated during Monday's presser. "There’s new hunger, and that hunger hasn’t necessarily been satisfied with a victory to this point, but you can see them getting better. They’re finding their way, but there’s a tremendous amount of fight in them. I think that’s the thing that I look at. We have to see it for what it’s worth. It’s a Big Sky game that matters every bit as much as the ones we played the last couple of weeks.”
The Bengals are led by first-year head coach Charlie Ragle, a veteran amongst the Pac-12 who spent the last decade at both the University of Arizona ('12-'16) and the University of California-Berkeley ('17-21).
With nearly an entirely new staff by his side, Ragle has his sights set on returning Bengal Football back to prominence.
“You have to earn their respect for them to ultimately want to turn the corner," Vigen explained. "A corner doesn’t get turned simply because you make a coaching change. I think a coaching staff has to come in and earn that, and I think it’s apparent that he’s done that.”
In a similar fashion to the Bobcats, Idaho State is dealing with a fair share of injuries on offense, primarily at quarterback.
The Bengals are on their third-string field general in Sagan Gronauer who just got his first career start last week against the Griz.
“He can certainly make all the throws, and he’s a little bit different than [Hunter] Hayes certainly and Tyler [Vander Waal] who started at the beginning of the season," Vigen compared. "That changes them a little bit, and I thought they adjusted well to his skillset.”
In his first start, the sophomore threw for 260 yards and one touchdown with his primary target being none other than Xavier Guillory.
The senior leads the Big Sky with 463 receiving yards, a talent Montana State knows they’ll need to contain on Saturday.
“I do think his ability to adjust to the football, to make the difficult catch, to be able to transition out of a catch," Vigen listed. "I mean, those are all qualities that aren’t measurable necessarily. He seems like he’s got a knack for being able to do things that the really good receivers do. He’s going to be a guy that this league is obviously going to have to contend with.”
Montana State versus Idaho State kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m. inside Bobcat Stadium, which will be televised on the CW Montana.