Each year at the end of spring football the Bobcats are separated into first-string, second-string and third-string teams who then compete against each other in what is advertised as a scrimmage. It is composed mainly of drills with competitions in-between for the fans in attendance. The glorified practice is referred to as the Sonny Holland Classic and was held at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday, April 5.
The biggest question heading into the offseason, was and continues to be, who will be quarterbacking the Cats when fall rolls around. Due to the strong winds Saturday, it was tough to gain any clarity on who will be the clear favorite heading into the 2019 season. During the scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Tucker Rovig led the first-string group. He had a few nice completions, the most notable being a 53-yard bomb to junior wide receiver Travis Jonsen. Afterward, both Head Coach Jeff Choate and Jonsen commented on Rovig, agreeing that right now he has the most command over the offense.
Redshirt freshman Casey Bauman was behind center for the second-string squad. He didn’t show much of his talent during the actual scrimmage portion of the practice — with young guys getting a chance at playing offensive line and mixed personnel, Bauman suffered from weak pocket protection. During drills his large stature, compact throwing motion and strong arm were on display — all of which make him an excellent candidate for quarterback this coming fall. Choate and Jonsen also pointed out Bauman’s arm talent. “I’m not sure how he does it.” Jonsen added in regards to his throwing range.
Redshirt freshman Reuben Beltran also received some time behind center, but not much was seen out of him. It should also be noted that former quarterback junior Chris Murray is planning to be a full participant on the team come fall. He is currently working on his academic standing to ensure this happens.
Overall, it’s tough to judge how successful the Bobcats will be next fall from one spring “scrimmage” where emphasis was placed on allowing young players to show how they’ve improved.
Looking forward to this coming season, there is one thing the Cats have going for them that hasn’t happened during Choate’s tenure — a large majority of experienced players returning. The offense has nine of 11 starters returning, the defense eight of 11 and all of special teams will be back. Another point of emphasis by Choate was keeping the team healthy and reducing risk of injury. Because of this, star players like sophomore Troy Andersen saw decreased loads during spring practices. After the scrimmage Choate was elated saying, “I’m the most excited guy in the room right now. We got out of here with no injuries which hasn’t happened while I’ve been here.”
The Cats will play their first game of the 2019 season at Texas Tech on Aug. 31.