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Montana State's Derryk Snell runs with the ball Saturday against Cal Poly at Bobcat Stadium.

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Montana State, Brent Vigen hopes, has maintained a high level of urgency for its past five games.

But the Bobcats head coach recognizes this week is different, and it is for several reasons. The Bobcats won their last five contests, most by substantial margins, but they haven’t faced a team like their next one in that stretch.

The No. 9-ranked Bobcats (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky) travel to take on No. 19 Weber State (2-3, 1-1) at 8 p.m. Friday in Ogden, Utah. Vigen credited Wildcats head coach Jay Hill for helping his program gain a consistent reputation as one of the best in the FCS.

So Vigen anticipates the Bobcats will feel more gravity with this game as they seek to bolster their case for a first-round bye in the FCS playoffs.

“Now the dynamics are changed. We’re playing on a different day, a different place, certainly an opponent that has the accolades that are well-deserved,” Vigen said. “Obviously they have our full attention.”

Making adjustments

The Bobcats practiced Monday morning as snow fell for the first time this season. Vigen said the team didn’t need to modify much and credited MSU’s facilities crew for that.

This isn’t the only anomaly of the week. The Bobcats have a shorter amount of time to prepare for Weber State, which is coming off a bye.

“Time doesn’t stop for us,” Vigen said. “They’re not moving that game back at all on Friday so we’ll get our work in.”

Vigen said the Bobcats plan to travel Thursday. He said he was happy they didn’t appear worn out from Saturday’s 45-7 win over Cal Poly at home.

Vigen said the coaches face some difficulty when they must concoct a game plan with less time. The Bobcats also finished some work Sunday that usually would have been done Mondays.

Having been Wyoming’s offensive coordinator before this year, Vigen said Mountain West teams also needed to adapt to late kickoffs. Though he called it a “waiting game,” Vigen said the Bobcats should be used to it considering their Gold Rush game to open their home schedule was also at night.

With their matchup being televised on ESPNU, Vigen said the Bobcats are looking forward to performing on that stage.

“I think the benefit of us getting the opportunity to play on ESPNU,” Vigen said, “probably far outweighs the adjustment that we’ve got to make playing Friday at 8.”

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Montana State quarterback Matthew McKay hands the ball to running back Elijah Elliott during a game against Cal Poly on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

Wildcat quarterbacks

According to the Standard-Examiner, quarterback Kylan Weisser suffered a broken right fibula during Weber State’s last game. This should keep him out for at least 4-6 weeks.

That means freshman Bronson Barron, who missed time due to an MCL injury earlier in the season, is hoping to play again. With offensive weapons like running backs Josh Davis and Dontae McMillan as well as receivers Rashid Shaheed and Ty MacPherson, the Bobcats still have plenty to watch out for.

Vigen also called Shaheed a “tremendous threat” as a returner. He averages 11.1 yards per punt return and 32.2 yards per kick return with one touchdown.

Vigen said defending him won’t be an easy task, especially because of the rest of the players the Wildcats have on special teams. But he said the Bobcats are “not going to be afraid of him” as he feels confident in MSU’s coverage teams.

While Vigen said the bye week provides Weber State an advantage, he feels MSU will be prepared no matter who is behind center.

“They challenge you offensively,” Vigen said. “They run the gamut as far as their run schemes. They execute well. They are physical.”

Fearsome front

Vigen said Weber State’s defensive front seven might be the most talented the Bobcats will have faced this season, including Wyoming’s. He noted the Wildcats utilize many defensive linemen, similar to MSU.

Weber State’s strategies are usually simple, Vigen said, but that allows defenders to feel confident and play quickly.

The Wildcats are second in the Big Sky in total defense (299.4 yards per game) and fourth in scoring defense (20.8 points per game).

“Defensively, they get after you,” Vigen said. “They’re able to play a lot of man coverage, so with that up front, they can wreak havoc.”

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Montana State running back Isaiah Ifanse scores a touchdown against Cal Poly on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

Medical update

Vigen said wide receiver Nate Stewart, fullback RJ Fitzgerald and tight end Ryan Davis are all trending toward being active this week after missing time due to injuries.

Vigen added cornerback James Campbell, dealing with a lower-body injury, is “making his way back.” The Bobcats are hopeful to see his return in a few weeks.

Stewart, a grad transfer from Akron, still has yet to play for the Bobcats after suffering an ailment during fall camp. He caught 79 passes in his four seasons with the Zips. Vigen said Stewart is “moving in the right direction.”

Fitzgerald was hurt in MSU’s second game. Throughout his career, the junior has boosted the Bobcats with his blocking talents. Jaharie Martin, a redshirt freshman running back, had been filling in at fullback for MSU.

Davis hasn’t played for a couple weeks. Though the Bobcats involved their tight ends heavily in the passing game in their last contest, Davis has primarily benefited MSU as a blocker.

“It’ll be good to get them back on offense,” Vigen said.

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

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