MOUND — Spring is not fall.
Montana Tech football will not be what it is today in five months.
Newcomers will surprise, comebacks will disappoint, wounds will heal as others are sustained, minds will change and football and life will continue to be as uncertain as ever.
That being said, Montana Tech’s Friday night spring game is the closest to real football until the Orediggers kick off their 2022 season east of Oregon on Aug. 27.
“I think our guys had a great time,” head coach Kyle Samson said. “I think we had a really good spring ball, now we just have to take it in the summer, have a great practice in the summer and be ready to go in the fall.”
Here are six observations from Friday night, with one extra, for the Tech football fan to chew on until the games actually matter.
1. The first try is a transmission
The Tech offense, led alternately by second redshirt student Cade Wyant and redshirt rookie Jake Standlee, began the vast majority of their practices with an assist. Samson said the call-to-play was based on the gameplay and not scripted.
“A lot of things based on what the defense gave us,” Samson said. “We have very good players on the outside and (they are) able to make plays when we give them the ball.”
Wyant and Standlee played football without turnovers, found open receivers, and shot on the field when opportunities presented themselves.
“We caught the ball well, I thought the o line was protecting well and the only offense looked really good,” Samson said.
2. Effective QB play keeps the offense moving
Although official stats weren’t available for the spring game, the eye test suggests Wyant and Standlee made a high percentage of their attempts, particularly on the game’s first four drives, when most passes, qu whether designed or read, have not traveled. more than five aerial meters beyond the line of scrimmage.
“(We) are definitely going to have to watch the movie and see where their readings were,” Samson said.
Both quarterbacks frequently used the out, hook, and drag lanes, the latter a safe option that found open receivers in stride for modest gains with the potential for more yards after the catch.
“I think just looking at the overall picture, the quarterbacks had some great reads and it’s nice to see them getting some good completions,” Samson said.
3. Keep your ‘Seif’ QBs
The Orediggers will benefit from continuity on the offensive line, where four starters will return for the fall 2022 season.
“All spring, the o line really stood out and they’re going to be a big part of why we’re successful next fall,” Samson said.
Jack Hiller, who started at right tackle in 2021, will switch to graduated left tackle for all Hunter Spartz conferences next season.
This leaves only Hiller’s previous position uncertain.
Enter Seif Benjemia, all 6-foot-4, 300 pounds from him. Benjemia started at right tackle with the team’s first attack on Friday night
“I think he did a great job,” Samson said. “He’s a kid who was here last year as a substitute, and I really think he’s had a hell of a spring in the weight room.
“We’ve had four returning starters and he’s sort of the next piece.”
4. The new defense receives rave reviews
When Aric Williams was hired as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in February, the Orediggers had to work quickly to implement his basic 4-2-5 system. Samson said he saw the hard work of his team and players pay off on this side of the ball on Friday night.
“I was really proud of our defense tonight,” said Samson. “I think Coach Williams and the defensive staff did a really good job with a new defense. They stole, made a few plays.”
The starting defense threw a shutout, forced two fumbles, recovered one, and applied consistent quarterback pressure (plays were called off when a defensive player had a clear and imminent path to the quarterback) .
“Probably a combination of great coverage and we have some really good defensive linemen,” Samson said. “We have poles there and we should be able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks next fall.”
5. Estes is a weapon, with or without the ball
Defenses need to know where Mark Estes is at all times, and it looks like the Orediggers are counting on that.
Estes scored the first TD of the game with a 60-yard run down the left sideline. He scored the second in a go-go situation. Both came with the redshirt sophomore taking a steam header with a pre-snap move, beating the defense to the edge and using his blockers to find open reduction lanes.
Whether split, on the move, passing a stint or spinning down the field, Estes will have to be reckoned with. Tech tried to take advantage of this by using him as a decoy in play and sending pass catchers into areas of the pitch that were vacated by defenders watching Estes closely.
Estes scored four offensive touchdowns last season — two rushing and two receiving — as well as a 76-yard kick return touchdown.
“He made a lot of big plays,” Samson said. “He had a great, great spring. He’s very dynamic in the passing game and the running game.”
6. Special teams could make the difference
Special teams were a one-sided affair on Friday night, and the Orediggers hope that will be the case in the fall as well.
Field goals were 11-0 while kick-offs and punts were caught by a returning man to give the covering teams a goal to chase, although no tackles were made. carried out.
Ryan Lowry completed all of his kicks, including a 45 and then 39-yard field goal to end the game.
All-conference returning punter Andrew Almos pinned the returning man inside his own 10-yard line with his first punt of the game.
“To be a good football team, we have to be good in special teams,” Samson said. “With Lowry doing all his kicking and Andrew doing a great job punting…that third of the game is such a massive thing.”
Extra point: live to fight another day
Only once on Friday night was a player slow to get up and out of the field. And despite the strenuous efforts of some defenders to get their money’s worth on every hit, no one was hurt during the game, according to Samson.
“The most important thing is that we stayed healthy tonight, which was good,” Samson said.
The game lasted around an hour and 45 minutes, with brief stoppages but nothing resembling a half-time break.
“It was good to see our guys come out and compete and we had a lot of reps,” Samson said. “It was really good, a good assessment tool.”