Saturday, February 12, 2011

Montana State Bobcats 2010 Review

2010 Record: 9-3 (7-1), Tied 1st Big Sky
2010 Playoffs: Lost to North Dakota State 42-17
2010 Schedule/Results
Fort Lewis, W 59-10
@ Washington State, L 23-22
Drake, W 48-21
Eastern Washington, W 30-7
@ Sacaramento State, W 64-61
Portland State, W 44-31
@ Northern Arizona, L 34-7
Northern Colorado, W 37-35
@ Idaho State, W 23-20
Weber State, W 24-10
@ Montana, W 21-16
North Dakota State, L 42-17

451.8 yards per game

Denarius McGhee started every game as a freshman for the Bobcats, and after a bumpy start in which he had tossed 4 picks early in the season, he went on a mission, and only tossed 2 picks over the final 8 games of the season. During that time he managed 17 TDs against those two picks, and he became one of the best freshmen in the country, and along with Casey Brockmon of Murray State, became one of the best freshmen FCS QBs ever. When all was said and done, McGhee passed for 3163 yards on the season, and he tossed 23 TD passes. He will be back for what looks to be 3 more magical seasons in Bozeman.
That is not where the offense ended in 2010. Orenzo Davis was a stid in the backfield, as he racked up 1126 yards and 10 TDs on the season. There is more good news when it comes to Davis, who was under defended against with McGhee running around, and that's that he was a junior, and will be back for more high excitement in 2011 as well.
The receviver combo of Julius Lloyd and  Elvis Akpla was insane together. There were very few combos in the FCS that could keep up with them together. Lloyd had 36 grabs for 711 yards while Akpla snagged 43 balls for 682 yards on the year. They combined for 11 TDs on the season. Everett Gilbert joined in at the third receiver spot, and his work was solid as well, catching 48 passes for another 574 yards. He will step into the role that Lloyd is leaving behind to graduation. Tanner Bleskin, even as the 4th receiver, caught 33 balls for 502 yards, and he too will be back for another run in 2011. Kyle Begger will be missed at TE, as he was a solid compliment to the 4 set star receivers.
The offensive line will be losing two seniors off of this conference championship football team, but one of those losses is huge in OT Mike Person. Person was a pre-season award candidate in every way in 2010, and his play stuck all season long as one of the best tackles in the FCS. His loss is immeasurable, but there is a ton of talent returning in 2011, with 9 lettermen returning, plus new bodies through recruiting. Person means a lot to ths line, but the Bobcats should be just fine.

Allowed 383.1 yards allowed per game

If there was one area that could have been shored up, it was the MSU pass defense, as teams passed against the Bobcats at a clip of 230 yards per game.
Dan Ogden wound up being the leader on the D line, having collected 47 tackles with 10.5 TFLs on the season. He combined with Clay Schreibus to collect 10 sacks on the season. Schreibus will have to up his game, as Ogden will be departing due to graduation. Jason D'Alba will also be leaving, leaving a second hole on the line. Zach Minter will be back to join Schreibus as the future of the D line. Minter also had 10 TFLs on the season with 5 sacks.
The Bobcats found the future of the LB corps as well, with Aleksei Grosulak having led the team in tackles with 88 on the year. He also had 8 TFLs, 2 picks, 2.5 sacks, and 4 passes broken up. It seemed as if whenever there was a play to be made, he was finding a way to be a part of it.
Young Jody Owens was also a force at LB, as he was second on the team in tackles as a sophomore with 80. He also recorded 8 TFLs on the season, and is very active. Clay Bignell was the third starter as a junior, but more will be expected of him as a senior, as he only was able to provide half of the productivity that either of the other young backers had provided.
The secondary was problematic at times. The entire team combined for only 8 picks all season long, and as I had said, they gave up 230 yards passing per game, despite the agressiveness of the front 7. The DBs need to shore up their game in 2011, as the Bobcats will be walking around with targets on their backs all season long. Safety Michael Ryder was the leader of the secondary statistically, but he will be moving on, so it will be detrimental to find a solid replacement in the spring that this group can build around for improvement.


Kickers didn't get much better than Jason Ferguson was in 2010, as he nailed 20 of his 24 FG attempts on the season. No kicker in the Big Sky was relied on more than Ferguson, and he did not let the Bobcats down. Ferguson hit on 1.67 FGs per game on the year.
No punter was relied on less in the Big Sky than Rory Perez. Perez had a league low 3.92 punts per game, while averaging just 38.04 yards per punt. Some of that lower avergae number had a lot to due with MSU having decent field position in most games, but that number has to improve in 2011 to give the defense a break from defending short fields.
Everett Gilbert picked up another 637 yards in kick returns on the season, and Orenzo Davis gained another 256 yards. Both will be back to handle these duties in 2011. More good news for the Bobcats.


The Cats had a fantastic season in 2010, having won the Bog Sky title by virtue of having beaten eventual national champ Eastern Washington soundly during the season. That loss to North Dakota State in the playoffs was a virtual thud however, so it's going to be a major task for Coach Rob Ashe to find a way to drive the Bobcat machine deeper in 2011. The talent is well in place to do so, and with Bobby Hauck out of the league, it is possible that MSU has just maybe started to turn the corner to take league dominance away from league rival Montana. EWU may have won the title overall, but MSU may be the better player in the Big Sky.

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