online - Casey Bauman

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs a drill during practice on Aug. 2 at Dyche Field.

Casey Bauman has earned the trust of his teammates.

Bauman was announced as Montana State’s starting quarterback on Monday morning, just days after the team’s first scrimmage on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. He beat out sophomore Tucker Rovig, who started two games last season and showed potential in his first season playing.

That means Bauman will make his first career start at Texas Tech on Aug. 31

Head coach Jeff Choate wanted to name a starter after the first scrimmage. After watching film and discussing the decision with his assistant coaches, Bauman was designated as the team’s man behind center.

When Choate was asked what Bauman had to do to earn the starting job, he stressed completion percentage.

“You’ve got to make decisions. You can't be out there throwing interceptions, but it's that guy that I just have that feeling that's the guy that walks in the huddle and the guys believe they're going to be able to lead the team,” Choate said. “That's probably the most important part of my evaluation.”

Bauman’s stat line from last weekend’s scrimmage — 6 of 11 for 77 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — illustrated a stronger showing than Rovig. And Choate said the scrimmage would weigh fairly heavily into his decision.

Choate didn’t commit to his original timeline after the scrimmage Saturday afternoon. He said if he was ready to make a decision, he would.

And he did.

“I just think of it as another day,” Bauman said of the scrimmage last week. “It’s still the same plays you’ve run all week, it’s the same everything.

“Obviously you’ve got to perform. They want to put you to the test. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. And that’s all it’s come down to.”

Out of Sumas, Washington, Bauman threw for 2,914 yards, 27 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior in high school and ran for 15 touchdowns. He finished his career with several school passing records, graduating with 7,437 career passing yards, 65 TD passes and 26 rushing touchdowns.

“Casey’s doing a fine job taking control of the offense, understanding what we’re trying to get done schematically,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Miller said. “I’ve really started to challenge him to be a leader of the offense.”

The 6-foot-7, 231-pound redshirt freshman has limited experience, having played in one game last season and completed his only pass against Cal Poly. However, Bauman showed natural ability during fall camp last season while he was competing to be MSU’s starter. A season later, he displayed better command of the offense during fall camp.

Bauman is tasked with following Troy Andersen, who was a unanimous all-Big Sky and all-American at quarterback last season before he moved back to his natural position at strong-side linebacker.

But Bauman, who was Andersen’s backup after Rovig’s season was over with a broken foot, used his redshirt season to learn behind Andersen and from Miller.

“I just tried to pick up on anything they had and just learn the offense,” Bauman said. “I think the game’s going to slow down a little bit for me. Obviously I know all of our stuff and all of our schemes, but I think I’ve made improvements since last year.”

Choate often expressed that the starter should exude confidence and instill that same mindset in his teammates. Wide receiver Kevin Kassis said after Saturday’s scrimmage that he developed timing with both Bauman and Rovig, so the receivers felt comfortable with either.

“It’s just being there everyday,” Bauman said of strengthening his relationship with his teammates. “It’s not necessarily earning trust, it’s just doing everything you can for them knowing you’ll have their back and they’re going to have yours.”

Bauman won’t be expected to single-handedly carry the team. The young signal caller will line up with Isaiah Ifanse, a sophomore who rushed for an MSU freshman record 1,025 yards last season, and a versatile stable of other running backs. He has a veteran receiving corps to throw to and an offensive line that returns most of its starters.

And Bauman will be backed by a defense which ranked fourth in scoring and total defense last season and brings back a lineup that’s deep and skilled at every level.

While he wants to run the ball about as often as the Bobcats did last season, Choate said at the beginning of fall camp he wants to take more shots downfield through the air.

Choate trusts Bauman to do so. And MSU’s new starting QB is eager to utilize the weapons of his offense.

“It fires me up to be honest,” Bauman said. “We have so many people who can contribute, and that just fires me up.”

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