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After a quarterback battle all throughout fall camp, Montana State coaches still couldn’t officially narrow down to one.

Troy Andersen and Travis Jonsen are listed as co-starters at quarterback on MSU’s depth chart which was released Saturday heading into the Bobcats’ season opener against Western Illinois on Thursday at Bobcat Stadium.

The duo replaces Chris Murray, MSU’s starting QB last season who is taking the year off to focus on academics. Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate said early in fall camp that he wanted the starting quarterback to prove to have good decision making, accuracy, leadership, and ultimately he wanted a QB that could produce.

Choate said based on last year’s tape he can already tell how teams are going to play the Bobcats no matter who the quarterback is. He expects teams to pressure the outsides, send safeties toward the line of scrimmage and dare the Bobcats to pass.

Choate was proud to say MSU still averaged about 250 yards rushing against that type of scheme. However, Choate wants to take chances through the air when the opportunities present themselves.

“That’s the most important thing for us is just to be disciplined, trust our technique, trust our preparation,” Choate said. “We have to keep the defense honest, there’s no question about that. Our DNA is going to be our DNA.”

Andersen, last year’s Big Sky freshman of the year as a running back and linebacker, took all of the snaps with the first-team offense during the team’s second scrimmage on Aug. 18. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore from Dillon who was an all-state QB for Beaverhead County completed 10 of 16 passes for 96 yards and threw an interception but rushed 10 times for 64 yards and a 55-yard touchdown.

Jonsen was initially brought in from Riverside City College to bring competition to Murray. But the former Oregon QB became a favorite when Murray took the year off.

Jonsen played with the first-team offense at QB in the team’s first scrimmage but didn’t play quarterback in the team’s second scrimmage as he caught two passes for 21 yards as a wide receiver. Choate said Jonsen’s foot, which was broken last spring, was flaring up as he had taken drills off throughout fall camp while healing. Choate added he didn’t want to give too much of the playbook away, which was another reason for holding Jonsen back.

Andersen’s profile on the team’s website said he was competing to be the team’s “quarterback, running back or both,” and Choate didn’t seem opposed to using Andersen in a variety of ways. With Jonsen at quarterback during fall camp, Andersen saw time at running back and went out for passes after lining up initially at quarterback. Playing Jonsen and Andersen on the field at the same time poses problems for defenses, Choate said.

No matter who the starter is, Bobcats offensive coordinator Brian Armstrong said the offense will revolve around whoever is taking the snaps. Before the depth chart was released, Armstrong said he was excited to see what “they” do Thursday night.

“What player A does really well may not be what player B does really well,” Armstrong said. “We’ve tried to throughout fall camp build a system broad enough that we can adapt to whoever is taking the snaps if that makes sense. Whichever quarterback is in the game, we definitely try to hone the game plan to fit their skill set, what they do best and what they feel comfortable with.”

On the team’s depth chart, Andersen and Jonsen were separated by a slash, and there were five other positions that had a slash. Notably, Karl Tucker II and Isaiah Ifanse were listed as co-starters at running back with Tyler Natee nowhere on the depth chart. Jacob Hadley and Balue Chapman were listed as co-starters at sam linebacker, and Jahque Alleyne and JoJo Henderson were listed as free safety co-starters.

Walker Cozzie also won the starting will linebacker spot as the Bobcats are without Grant Collins, Josh Hill and Chad Kanow. Damien Washington was listed as the starting field cornerback over Jalen Cole after Cole was listed as the starting boundary corner and Tyrel Thomas as the field corner on the summer depth chart.

On offense, Willie Patterson was listed as the starting H receiver while John D’Agostino was the backup X receiver behind Kevin Kassis. Kassis was taken off starting return duty, as Alleyne was the listed kick returner and Patterson as the punt returner.

After competing with Zach Redd for the final starting spot on the offensive line, redshirt freshman Connor Wood was listed as the starting right tackle which left Lewis Kidd at right guard.

“There’s certain things we’re always going to do no matter who the quarterback is,” Armstrong said. “Then after that, it’s what these guys do well and how can we build that around him.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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