#2 Montana State FCS Football 2013 Preview

Montana State Bobcats

Overall Rank: #2
#1 Big Sky

Montana State Team Page#2 Montana State FCS Football 2013 PreviewBuy Montana State Football Tickets

For the second straight year Montana State’s playoff run ended at the hands of Sam Houston State. Back in 2011 the Bobcats beat New Hampshire in their opening playoff game before losing 49-13 to SHSU. Last year third seeded Montana State snuck past Stony Brook before failing to exact revenge against the Bearkats. The story should be much the same in 2013 as it was in 2012. This is a talented group that should be able to earn a national seed come tournament time and they have the talent to make a serious run…as long as they do not run into SHSU again.

2012 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2012 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Rob Ash (50-22 at Montana State, 175-85-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Cramsey
Defensive Coordinator: Jamie Marshall

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Cody Kirk, RB, 841 yards
Passing: DeNarius McGhee, QB, 3,154 yards
Receiving: Tanner Bleskin, WR, 928 yards
Tackles: Na’a Moeakiola, LB, 89
Sacks: Brad Daly, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Steven Bethley, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: DT Craig Ashworth, G Quinn Catalano, WR Jon Ellis, WR Brian Flotkoetter, CB Deonte Flowers, G Kyle Godecke, LB Cole Moore, TE Tiai Salanoa, OT John Weidenaar

Key Losses: RB Orenzo Davis, OT Steven Foster, S Joel Fuller, WR Everett Gilbert, CB Darius Jones, DT Zach Minter, LB Jody Owens, C Shaun Sampson, DE Caleb Schreibeis

The Montana State offense was built around three great playmakers last season and all three are back. Coach Rob Ash does not need to rely too much on running back Cody Kirk to move the chains, but Kirk can punch the ball into the end zone. He tallied 841 yards and 13 scores on 171 carries in 2012 after rushing for over 1,300 yards as a sophomore in 2011. Without Orenzo Davis around to help out, Kirk may need to see more touches than he did last season and that is certainly not a problem as long as he stays healthy. Under center DeNarius McGhee will again be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. As a junior he threw for 3,154 yards and 24 touchdowns and added 364 yards and another five scores on the ground. McGhee is always a threat to run and his passing has come a long way. There are not many quarterbacks at this level who have his accuracy. Tanner Bleskin does make things seem easier for McGhee. The 6-3 senior wideout caught 66 passes for 928 yards in 2012 and has had some huge games during his collegiate career. Jon Ellis and Brian Flotkoetter are fine complimentary receivers to Bleskin.

The defense will have to move on without a few big time playmakers. Linebacker Jody Owens was the heart and soul of the MSU defense, leading the way with 97 tackles and adding 4.0 sacks and five forced fumbles. Speaking of big hitters, end Caleb Schreibeis tallied 12.5 sacks and forced an amazing eight fumbles. That was 13 of the team’s 18 fumbles. Much of the turnovers created in the air have also moved on. Cornerback Darius Jones led the team with four interceptions during his senior season and the secondary will also be without Joel Fuller. But despite all of the losses, there is plenty of talent to be found. The front four will hope that Brad Daly can come close to being as productive as Schreibeis. At linebacker, Na’a Moeakiola and Cole Moore are capable of turning into leaders. Moeakiola totaled 89 tackles during his junior campaign and will be asked to do even more as a senior. The secondary should be in pretty good shape with Deonte Flowers and Steven Bethley, but like with the rest of the defense, filling in for the departed playmakers will not be easy.

The Bottom Line:
It may take a little time for the defense to reach their full potential, but the unit will be in good shape by the time conference play rolls around. Yet, Montana State does have a few tough road games early in the year and the defense may not be ready to replace those departed superstars quite yet. Trips to SMU and Stephen F. Austin will certainly test the unit in September. The Big Sky slate is tough of course, but it could have been worse. The Bobcats get Montana and Northern Arizona at home and avoid Cal Poly and a sneaky Sacramento State squad that gave them fits last season. The offense has the talent to lead this team to great things and if they can make it through this schedule with just one or two losses, Coach Ash will have Montana State among the favorites to make it through the playoffs.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.15 (41st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 246.23 (29, 6)
Total Offense: 415.38 (29, 6)
Scoring Offense: 33.46 (20, 5)
Rushing Defense: 106.38 (8, 2)
Pass Defense: 210.00 (54, 3)
Total Defense: 316.38 (16, 1)
Scoring Defense: 21.08 (25, 1)
Turnover Margin: .15 (49, 5)
Sacks: 2.92 (13, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.54 (84, 6)


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