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2021 MSU-N Football Preview: Lights' offense poised to finally bust out

 

Last updated 8/24/2021 at 7:45am

Havre DailNews/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Izayah Boss will be a key piece to the Lights' offense this fall. Northern head coach Andrew Rolin expects his team to put plenty of points on the board. For a look at the Northern defense and special teams, see Wednesday's Havre Daily News.

Just four months after the end of their last season, the Montana State University-Northern football team will get back at it this weekend when they host the College of Idaho at Tilleman Field. The Lights finished 0-4 this past spring, so they did not have much of an offseason to get things in order.

During that short time, MSU-N head coach Andrew Rolin focused on getting his offense ready for the fall season in order to lead the team to success.

"We want to be explosive. In order to do that, we got to play with great effort, great technique," Rolin said. "We've got to be able to protect the quarterback in the pass game and we've got to establish the run by being physical upfront."

Heading into the fall, Rolin will turn to transfer quarterback Kaymen Cureton to lead the offense. Cureton joined the team this offseason after starting his collegiate career at Nevada and Eastern Kentucky. Throughout the fall camp, Cureton separated himself to win the starting quarterback position out of four competitors. He will now be tasked with leading the Lights' offense, but Rolin thinks he is more than capable enough.

"He plays well within the system and he makes good decisions," Rolin said. "He's athletic enough to play the position in multiple facets and gets us out of bad situations. I'm really proud of him, excited for him. He's come a long way and had a nice journey that brought him here to Havre, Montana."

Cureton will have many receiving options to throw to this fall. Tyrese Rios returns after finishing last season fourth in the Frontier Conference with 226 receiving yards. Jake Horner also returns to catch passes for the Lights after he finished the spring with 158 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Other receivers that should get significant playing time this fall include Dorian Miles, Levi Keltner, Marvin Williams and TaVarus George.

All six of those receivers are competing to climb up the depth chart. With nobody standing out already, Rolin believes their eventual No. 1 receiver will have to show they can make the tough plays in crunch time.

"They've got to make the 50/50 catches. The ball's up in the air, it's got to be their ball," Rolin said. "These guys just have to do their job and the exceptional plays will come. They got to make the everyday plays, but the exceptional plays will come as well. We've got to be able to go up and attack and compete for the ball and win."

Cureton will also have his tight end Devin Carmona as another receiving option this fall. Carmona heads into the season as the Lights' starting tight end and will have Kaelen Casey, Isaac Bjorge and former quarterback Brenden Medina backing him up. Regardless of who gets playing time this fall, Rolin expects all his tight ends to be a force, blocking in the run game as well as a receiving threat.

"We're looking for guys that are physical in the run game and obviously efficient in the pass game as well," Rolin said. "(I) like where we're at in that position and we've got some experience and some depth there."

Along with the passing game, the Lights will need their running game to move the chains. But without starting running back Andrez Trahan-Proctor, who suffered an injury this past spring, Rolin will have to rotate several running backs through the offense. Izayah Boss should get many snaps after finishing the spring with 122 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 3.8 yards a carry. Other backs that Rolin plans on getting involved this fall are Canaan Smith and Dylan Vongphachanh in order to keep their runners fresh.

"Nowadays especially, you've got to have multiple backs that can go in and run your offense in the run game and the pass game," Rolin said. "We've got good depth at that position."

Regardless of whether the yards come through the air or on the ground, the Lights will need their offensive line to give their playmakers a chance this fall. Spencer Kolody returns to start at center for the Lights after he was named second team all-conference this past spring. Flanking him on the offensive line will be Bradley Mattauch at right guard and Kasee Henderson at left guard. On the edges of the line, Talaifeii Malae will play right tackle and Tristin Willis will play left tackle. If needed, Rolin believes he has some solid backup offensive linemen he can turn to such as Brandon Rose and Louis Wilson.

"We've got some depth on the offensive line for the first time in a while and guys with experience up front for the first time in a while as well," Rolin said. "That's exciting, because everything starts up front. It really always starts with the offensive line."

One reason why MSU-N finished the spring season 0-4 is that they had the last-place offense in the Frontier Conference. Out of five teams that played in the spring, the Lights were averaging just 11.5 points and 269.3 yards a game.

Heading into the fall, Rolin focused on several aspects of the offense in order to improve the offense. He has focused on cutting down turnovers in order to have more chances to score. He has focused on getting more consistency from his team to better put drives together. But he believes that if his offense can generate more big plays this fall, their offense will climb the rankings in the Frontier.

"I think we're going to put some points on the board but if we don't do those things, we're going to get the same results," Rolin said. "We've emphasized explosive plays, we've emphasized consistency, we've emphasized taking care of the football. So if we do that, I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

The MSU-N football team will begin their season against College of Idaho at Tilleman field on Saturday at 1 p.m. For a look at Northern's defense and special teams, see Wednesday's Havre Daily News.

 

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