BOZEMAN — The No.2-ranked Montana State Bobcats take on Cal Poly on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Bobcat Stadium. MSU is coming off a bye week, one used for rest, recovery and recruiting.
“It has been nice," Bobcats wide receiver Aidan Garrigan said. "In the past, we’ve had our bye week pretty late, and so it’s a really long stretch before our bye week.
"I felt like it was needed. It was very nice to have that in the middle to kind of separate it into where we can get into the mindset of getting ready to make this run towards the playoffs.”
Bobcats coach Brent Vigen also noted the timeliness of the bye week for the Bobcats this year in particular. It gave an extra week of rest for players coming back from injury.
“I think where we’re at this year, it suited us better, week six," he said. "When you’re going through a week where you don’t play and you’re wanting guys to return. To have one of those weeks be a week where you don’t have a game, I think is a good thing.”
One of the injured players expected to return Saturday is quarterback Tommy Mellott. Listed as an "or" on the depth chart with fellow QB Sean Chambers, Mellott's number of snaps may be limited, but he should be available.
Mellott suffered an apparent leg injury in Week 2 at South Dakota State and hasn't played since.
“Tommy Mellott is a highly tuned athlete when he’s healthy," Vigen said. "When you’re immobile for a couple weeks, you know, that’s the progress I guess we’re continuing to make, but (he's) definitely available at this point.”
Cal Poly is 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Big Sky Conference play. The Mustangs will be heading into arguably their toughest match yet on the road against the Bobcats in Bozeman.
For Montana State, which is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Sky, it’s about staying dialed in to the game in front of them.
“Week by week, you’ve got to focus on your own opponent," Bobcats defensive tackle Sebastian Valdez said. "You can’t really take anything lightly. You can’t take them lightly for sure. They’re a good team, they’re disciplined, and they have new coaches, so they’re a hungry team, and they’re young.”
“I think we look at it as just another week," Garrigan said. "We talk about every single game counting the same at the end of the season. So, no matter what, this game’s going to be on our record. We don’t treat it like any different than any game, so I think that our preparation is the same every single week for us.”
For the Bobcats, something that’s been on display every week is how in sync each unit is on both sides of the ball.
“Especially with the communication side of things," Valdez said of the improved communication among the defensive line. "Last year, I know we wanted to communicate better and that’s what we’re doing this year. As long as we’re all on the same page.”