BOZEMAN — After defeating UT Martin 26-7 in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday, Montana State head coach Brent Vigen wasted no time addressing the departure of quarterback Matthew McKay.
“I’ll just address this, this one time — We made a change we thought was better for our team," Vigen. "We had Matt, an individual that made a change that was best for him -- we wish him well and that’s all I’m going to say about Matt McKay. I want to talk about the guys that are on our team and were out there giving tremendous effort today.”
The Bobcats coaching staff decided after the blowout loss to Montana that they were going to roll with freshman Tommy Mellott who had only thrown four passes all year.
“I think where we’re at offensively, I think his ability to run the football, I think has been more than apparent through the course of the season and then like his development as a passer," Vigen said. "You put those two things together, I think that was clearly the best choice for our offense.”
The freshman quarterback took his lumps, only completing 8 of his 20 passing attempts for 51 yards, but it was a terribly windy day with gusts reaching nearly 50 miles per hour.
“His opportunity for improvement is very much still there," said the Bobcats head coach. "That’s just one game. It’s a start for him. He’s got that first game under his belt and really excited about what he can do moving forward.”
Vigen described Mellott’s running ability as electric and it was on Saturday afternoon. The freshman racked up 180 yards rushing on 23 carries and punched in two rushing touchdowns.
“Obviously, that was a big part of us putting Tommy in there because of his ability to be a playmaker,"Vigen said. "His development through the course of the season, we felt like his ability to throw the football has come along.”
The team rallied around Mellott and trusted that he could get the job done. They knew because they see the relentless work ethic that he brings to the table every day of the year -- offseason through football season.
“The way that kid works we knew he was going to get his opportunity," said junior defensive back Ty Okada. "When someone loves the game and plays the game with passion that he does, it makes it a lot easier to just have utmost confidence him. He’s a great kid. He’s a great player, but he’s ultimately a really great teammate.”
The trust from his teammates and coaching staff gave Mellott a boost of confidence to push through the jitters in his first career college start.
“As I continue to make mistakes or be successful in different situations, they continued to believe in me and it meant the world," Mellott said.
Bobcat fans should get used to seeing touchdown Tommy’s playmaking ability.
“He’s the type of kid that this moment wasn’t too big for him," Vigen. "There was mistakes certainly, there’s going to be mistakes. Just like his makeup and what he’s going to bring this program for a long long time here.”