BOZEMAN — After a 3-1 start to the season, the Montana State Bobcats kick off game number five on Saturday at 1 p.m., and MTN Sports heard from Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen earlier this week about his thoughts on their opponent, the Northern Colorado Bears.
“We could look at the scores, line 'em up, look at their stats, say whatever, but they’re coming off a big win and we got to be prepared for their best shot,” said Vigen.
Northern Colorado (2-2) is coming off an overtime win over Northern Arizona, but according to Vigen they’re a team still finding their identity.
“They’re a lot different than they would’ve been in 2019," he said. "To even think anything resembles what they were in 2019 would be a real mistake.”
The Bears have a new head coach this season, hired in December of 2019, three-time Super Bowl Champion Ed McCaffery now leads the team. He coached at Valor Christian High School in 2018.
“Coach McCaffrey brings a wealth of experience from his playing days, his coaching days at Valor Christian," said Vigen. "They got some really explosive players on offense, running backs, wide receivers. They got some really skilled guys on defense.”
Starting at quarterback for the Bears is Ed’s son Dylan, who transferred from Michigan and was one of the top-ranked quarterbacks coming out of high school. In three games he has thrown for 498 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
“Dylan’s got a whole bunch of talent," Vigen said. "I think he’s more of a passer than a runner but he’s more than capable of making some plays with his athleticism and he’s got some really good targets. Really good size targets on the other end.”
The Northern Colorado offense is a more of a traditional offense, led by offensive coordinator Max McCaffery, who is also Ed’s son. At running back, Gene Sledge Jr. leads the team with with 49 rushes for 206 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns. Washington State transfer Kassidy Woods has been the standout wide receiver for the Bears. On the year the 6-foot-4 wide receiver has 20 receptions, 255 yards and one touchdown.
“Dylan can make a bunch of plays with his arm in particular," said Vigen when describing the UNC offense. "Really good running back, a couple of those transfers are at the receiver position -- really good size guys.”
On defense, the Bears run a 3-3-5 stack under new defensive coordinator Scott Darnell, who coached with McCaffrey at the high school level. Switching positions from outside linebacker to defensive end, Bears sophomore David Hoage is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks with five sacks on the year.
“Play a lot of zone, so you have to be patient -- take what they give you. It’s really a bend but don’t break philosophy,” said Vigen.
Full highlights of the game can be found on KBZK at 5:30 p.m and 10 p.m. and on MontanaSports.com