BOZEMAN — The Montana State football team (4-1) is gearing up for a home game this Saturday to take on Cal Poly (1-4) at 2 p.m. This week, MTN Sports sat down with Nick Wilson of the San Luis Obispo Tribune to give Bobcats fans insight on the Mustangs.
Cal Poly, like Montana State, has a new head coach this season in Beau Baldwin, who won a national championship with Eastern Washington in 2010. He departed the program in 2017 to take the offensive coordinator gig with the University of California.
“He has some great knowledge of the game and I think it’s just going to take probably a couple years for him to really get his program to the place he wants it to be in,” Wilson said.
Baldwin has implemented a pass-first offense for the Mustangs.
“He’ll spread it out," said Wilson. "He’ll throw to his backs, he’ll have some slants, he’ll have some deep balls. He talks about balance in offense being really important. I think as the running game picks up over the next couple of years, I know this year he hasn’t done much with the run, I think he’d like to see more of a balance.”
Redshirt sophomore transfer quarterback Spencer Brasch followed Baldwin from Cal. In two games for the Mustangs he threw for 530 yards and three touchdown. However, he would injure his hand. It's been a juggling act for who would replace Brasch. Kahliq Paulette, Conor Bruce and most recently Jackson Pavitt have all played the last three games. Pavitt started in last week's game against Weber State in which the Mustangs were blown out 38-7. He completed 13 passes on 30 attempts for a miniscule 84 yards.
“I think they’re just going to have to figure out who’s there best option for the depth chart this week," said Wilson. "It’s a good opportunity for some of these young guys to showcase their skills. I’m sure it’s not what coach Baldwin had in mind for this point in the season having to go to a third or fourth string quarterback. We’ll see how they do.”
Injuries to their quarterbacks and averaging 47.8 yards per game rushing, which is 119th in the FCS, can be linked to their poor offensive line play. Cal Poly doesn't have one running back averaging more than 3.2 yards per carry.
“Their blocking hasn’t been good," Wilson said. "It’s exposing their runners, it’s exposing their running backs and that’s probably something they need to get better at. One of their key areas that they need -- is blocking up front.”
One player who can make an impact for the Mustangs is senior linebacker Matt Shotwell. He’s ranked No.15 in Cal Poly history for tackles.
“He’s just really the leader of pretty much the whole team, but especially the defense," said Wilson. "He definitely will blitz from time to time and try to get pressure on the quarterback.”
Wilson expects the Bobcats to walk away happy on Saturday. MSU is favored by 29 points, according to 5Dimes, an online sportsbook.
“Best case scenario for Cal Poly -- 34-24 Montana State,” said Wilson.