BOZEMAN — Remember the old adage that defense is usually ahead of offense early in fall camp? Montana State’s offense rendered that meme folly on Saturday, and the team’s ninth-year head coach Rob Ash saw it coming.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Ash said after Montana State’s first scrimmage of fall camp at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday. “I really felt the offense would be pretty good today, they’re tough.”
With Chad Newell and Gunnar Brekke sitting out with minor leg ailments, sophomore running back Nick LaSane rumbled for 100 yards and redshirt freshman Tavon Dodd added 45 more to spearhead an impressive ground game.
Junior quarterback Dakota Prukop threw for 113 yards and senior Jake Bleskin 118, each punctuating their mornings with picturesque touchdown passes.
“Right out of the gate we went down and scored,” Prukop said. “We expect that from ourselves with the offensive line we have. Nick LaSane did an outstanding job today.
"In the past we’d see some big plays develop and hit a different gap or whatever, but Nick had a plan and he went out and accomplished what he wanted to accomplish."
LaSane’s strongest statement came early. On the day’s fourth play, a second-and-10 from the offense’s 37-yard line, he popped a play off the right side and dashed 63 yards for a touchdown.
“The (LaSane) touchdown was one missed tackle on the back side, the second layer of support back there, and it resulted in a big play,” Ash said.
For all the offense on Saturday, though, Ash was impressed with his team’s defense, as well.
“I thought the defense was pretty good all day,” Ash said. “I thought the defense was pretty solid, physical and very strong.”
Senior cornerback Trace Timmer had the day’s only turnover, an interception off a deflected pass. His play caught Ash’s attention.
“Trace is playing great, he’s really doing a super job,” Ash said.
Junior linebacker Fletcher Collins also stood out, and Ash calls him “the surprise player of fall camp. He’s played extremely well, he’s faster than he’s ever been in his life, he’s a smart player out there, I’m really, really happy.”
Senior receiver Mitch Griebel led the squad with four catches, while senior tight end Beau Sandland was among a group of four Bobcats with a pair of balls caught. Justin Paige caught a 46-yard touchdown, while redshirt freshman Connor Sullivan had a 6-yard scoring catch and Cameron Sutton closed the scrimmage with an 8-yard TD reception.
The Bobcat players get Sunday off, then return for five practices covering the ensuing three days.
“That’s the two-one-two stretch,” Ash said, “really the dog days.”
MSU closes the camp portion of its preseason work with a scrimmage Saturday, with Family Fun Day in the afternoon.