BOZEMAN — The start of fall camp Thursday morning began Chapter 1 of what could be a storybook season for Montana State Football.
However, while expectations are high with the Bobcats picked to finish first in the Big Sky and are currently ranked No. 3 nationally in the preseason polls, the overall consensus this fall is neither of those means anything until dues are ultimately paid.
“Expectations and being ranked number one, that's all based off last year's team, that's based off last year's numbers. " junior center Justus Perkins stated. "We haven't done **** yet. You still got to stay hungry, we still got to be able to go out there and get done what we have to do. Obviously, that was just day one. We still have 20-plus practices left before we get to our first game even, so we still have a lot of work to do.”
While nearly eight months have passed since the Bobcats' season-ending semifinal loss at South Dakota State, that game still remains a vivid memory among the team, but has since turned into motivation rather than a feeling of defeat.
"This is, what, (my) fourth or fifth fall camp — something like that — and it's never been like this," junior defensive tackle Blake Schmidt smiled. "I mean, everybody's got a chip on their shoulder. We feel like it's our time, and we're gonna go attack this and we're gonna go take what's ours.”
Day 1 showcased new faces with punter Brendan Hall impressing early, but a group head coach Brent Vigen couldn't be more excited about this fall are the running backs.
“We're starting today with a better situation for depth than we were a year ago," Vigen shared. "I mentioned Scottre [Humphrey], but Scotttre's a guy that's a freshman. And then we have Lane [Sumner] and Elijah Elliott, Jared White, Garret Coon, and then we added Julius Davis, so really excited about the talent in that room and excited to see how that plays out over the course of the next few weeks.”
Vigen shared that he suspects that group will be a by-committee situation, and because of that depth, the goal this fall is to see fewer designed quarterback runs.
“Coach [Al] Johnson came in and he obviously realized we were really talented at running the ball, so he really focused that winter and spring block on getting our pass pro better," Perkins explained. Obviously, Tommy [Mellott], he's made leaps and bounds in terms of his pass game. Sean Chambers is a huge quarterback and has a massive arm, so if we give him time, they can do some great things in the pocket."
Three #MSUBobcatsFB injuries to note:— Ashley Washburn (@ashleyjwashburn) August 2, 2023
🔹 OL Cole Sain — Reaggravated an injury, surgery was potentially season ending
🔹 WR Taco Dowler — Had shoulder surgery in May & might return at some point in the season
🔹 RB Kaegun Williams — Career ending neck injury
Both offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright and running backs coach Sam Mix, who were both criminally charged from an alleged DUI incident this past spring, were both present for Thursday's practice. Vigen shared he will "have a further comment" later in fall camp regarding the May incident.