MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

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

Casey Bauman hit Lance McCutcheon on a curl. Then he found Travis Jonsen on a crossing route in a tight window. Then he zipped a pass to Jacob Hadley on an out route.

Bauman admitted Friday he’s not going to impact Montana State the same way Troy Andersen did at quarterback last season. But maybe neither Bauman or Tucker Rovig, both battling to be MSU's starting quarterback, have to for the Bobcats to be successful.

MSU head coach Jeff Choate said earlier this week he wants to expand MSU’s play calling with more aggressive passing. Neither Bauman or Rovig possess the speed and athleticism to replicate Andersen’s rushing production from last season, which included a school-record 21 touchdowns on the ground. But both have the arms and pedigree to fit within the scheme Choate is hopeful for.

Choate set a timeline at the beginning of fall camp which included picking the starting quarterback after the team’s first scrimmage, which is Saturday afternoon and closed to the public. Through situational play and live periods, Bobcat coaches hope to create a game-like experience in order to force Bauman or Rovig to stand out.

“Obviously you’ve got to perform,” Bauman said. “They want to put you to the test.”

Bauman, who’s taken snaps with the first-team offense often in the last few days of practice, feels more comfortable behind center compared to fall camp last season when he was also in the quarterback competition. The 6-foot-7, 231-pound redshirt freshman spent the later half of MSU’s season as Andersen’s backup, only playing for one game and completing his only pass against Cal Poly.

Bauman believes even that limited time acclimated him to the pressure of a game. He appreciated he redshirted so he could learn behind Andersen and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Miller. Coming out of Sumas, Washington, Bauman struggled keeping up with the speed of the college game.

“I just tried to listen to everything I could, just soak up anything I could,” Bauman said. “I just tried to pick up on anything they had and just learn the offense. 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.”

MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

Montana State quarterback Casey Bauman runs a drill during practice on Friday, August 2, 2019, at the MSU practice fields.

Now he feels he’s in better command of the offense. He’s shown he’s successfully developed timing with his receivers, though he occasionally has thrown interceptions as well during practices. But Bauman used the summer to build bonds with his teammates. By providing a consistent presence during summer workouts, he hopes he’s gained the trust of his peers.

“Casey’s doing a fine job taking control of the offense, understanding what we’re trying to get done schematically,” Miller said. “I’ve really started to challenge him to be a leader of the offense. Really, all the quarterbacks, when they’re in the huddle, they’ve got to follow you.”

Miller believes both Rovig and Bauman have successfully provided leadership, and Choate has often said the starting QB should instill confidence in his teammates. Miller thinks both worked tirelessly this summer because both have made “tremendous strides.”

Rovig’s tumultuous development has included three different position coaches in as many seasons. While the 6-5, 205-pound sophomore feels he’s learned from each of them, Miller’s instilled the importance of consistency.

Rovig's experienced highs like leading MSU to victory against Wagner and lows like his first career start in a loss at South Dakota State and when he broke his foot midway through last season, ending his year.

Choate said this week Rovig would’ve been the starter if not for that injury. Now he needs to consistently perform to show he's worthy of that again.

“(The foot injury) was a resetting moment, so I can pretty much go back to square one. I could get bigger, stronger and all that stuff. So going into spring ball, it was definitely different,” Rovig said. “It was definitely great to be back out there.”

MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

Montana State quarterback Tucker Rovig runs a drill during practice on Aug. 2 at Dyche Field.

Though Miller is in his first full season as the play caller, Rovig said the playbook has changed very little, only adding simple shifts and motions.

Yet no matter who the starter will be, Choate and Miller both have said they want to expand on the Bobcats' passing while maintaining their “downhill running” identity.

And with such little time during fall camp to prove themselves, Rovig believes both he and Bauman carry a sense of urgency going into Saturday.

Miller is eager to see them both operate in pressure situations. He wants to know who he trusts most when the season begins.

“I just want to see those guys when the live bullets are flying, see how they operate,” Miller said, “and see who can make plays when the game’s on the line.”

MSU Fall Football Practice (copy)

Montana State quarterback Tucker Rovig runs a drill during practice on Aug. 2 at Dyche Fields.

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