The Gary Goff era will get underway in Bozeman, Montana this weekend as the Montana State Bobcats welcome the McNeese State Cowboys to Bobcat Stadium to open their 2022 season.
The Bobcats were one of the top teams in the FCS last season, going 12-3 before falling to North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship 38-10. Their schedule included wins over Eastern Washington, Idaho, Sam Houston State, and South Dakota State.
Montana State scored nearly 29 points per game last season while averaging 430 yards of total offense a game. Isaiah Ifanse went off in 2021, racking up 1623 yards on 280 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Ifanse is back on the roster but is currently dealing with an injury. Jared White, Lane Sumner, and San Diego State transfer Kaegun Williams will assume the running back duties until Ifanse returns. Tommy Mellott is back at quarterback, as the sophomore had a solid showing in his freshman campaign, running for 716 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for 484 yards and four touchdowns.
At the wide receiver spot, the Bobcats are replacing their top target from last year in Lance McCutcheon, but Willie Patterson returns from a 375-yard season in 2021 and will look to take the leadership role of the group.
The offensive line for the Bobcats has gone from a strength to a question mark, with only one returning starter and four sophomores on the starting line for Montana State Saturday night.
The defense will be strong for the Bobcats, although they will need to replace three big names from a year ago in Chase Benson, Daniel Hardy, and Troy Anderson. Ty Okada and Callahan O’Reilly are back after being named preseason All-Americans and will look to lead the Montana State defense.
The defensive line lost multiple starters from last year, however, they have many players back that had playing experience last year, so this group should be a strength for the Bobcats.
The secondary will be a strong suit as well, with guys like Okada, Jeffrey Manning Jr, Tyrell Thomas, and Simeon Woodard.
The Bobcats had a great year in 2021, with key contributors back in 2022. Now, it’s unsure that they make it to the FCS title game again, but expectations are certainly high in Bozeman.
Their schedule this season includes McNeese, Oregon State, Eastern Washington, Weber State, and an in-state rivalry with Montana.