OGDEN, UTAH — Montana State defensive end Daniel Hardy continues to wreak havoc in opposing offense's backfields. On Friday night, he had multiple sacks, a forced fumble and one of those sacks basically sealed the game in a 13-7 win over Weber State.
However, he says it’s only the second best game in his career.
“As a back-end player it makes your job easy when you know that the quarterback has about two seconds back there -- and that’s max, or else he’s getting hit in the face by Daniel Hardy," said defensive back Ty Okada. "It makes our job really easy.”
Although he says his best game ever was in high school, on Friday he finished up the night with three sacks, eight tackles and one forced fumble, which eventually led to a MSU field goal for a 10-7 lead they wouldn’t give back. His last sack of the day was with under two minutes left and gave Montana State the ball. They would never give it back to run out the clock.
“When he escaped the pocket I was running him down and all I could hear was (assistant defensive backs coach Kyle Risinger) in my head saying, ‘takeaway week,’” Hardy said of his strip sack on Wildcats freshman quarterback Bronson Barron.
It's hard not to notice Hardy on the field. He put on about 15 pounds of solid muscle in the offseason to make the switch from outside linebacker to defensive end. For head coach Brent Vigen, he saw Hardy’s ability when he first took the job.
“He was one of the first guys going back to February -- we were in the gym in the south dome and said, ‘That guy’s going to be something,’" Vigen said. "He plays with such passion and such energy and just terrific effort. He’s getting better and better at the technical perspective. He’s a lot to handle for sure.”
The senior now has eight sacks on the year, which would put him near the top of the FCS. Hardy is thankful for the rotation of defensive lineman Montana State has so he can catch his breath and stay fresh.
“Couldn’t appreciate those guys more," said Hardy. "Love them to death. I’m happy to see their improvement and progression as players.”
Hardy stays humble and credits his teammates for his success.
“I can’t do my job without everybody else," he said. "If the (defensive backs) aren’t covering downfield, I can't get back there. Love those guys to death. This was a team win. It wasn’t just one person."
After seeing him chase around opposing quarterbacks, MSU quarterback Matthew McKay is just thankful it’s not him being chased by Hardy.
“We went back at it in fall camp, but just knowing he’s on my team is good to know,” McKay said with a smile.