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Introducing Troy Andersen, the captain of Montana State’s defense

NCAA Football: Montana State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Montana State’s Troy Andersen was incredibly productive for the Bobcats last season while serving as the heart and soul of their defense. Andersen served as their defensive anchor and unquestioned leader up the middle.

Andersen recently spoke with MCM about his impressive 2019 campaign, how he plans to spend this season on the sidelines, and why a future at The Senior Bowl is still on his radar.

JM: You’re red-shirting this year with an injury. How do you plan to spend your time this season?

TA: I’m fairly excited to take this year to get healthy. It’ll give me some time to work on my body. I’m going to spend my time learning the ins and outs of our defense. I’m going to prepare as if I’m playing. It’s really just an extra year for me.

JM: That’s the way to treat it. You had a great season last year, 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Did you expect to have the breakout year that you did?

TA: I guess you kinda always expect to have a good year (laughs). The coaches trusted me to go out there and play. I was fortunate enough to be very productive. I had some great games last season. We won some games and had a lot of fun out there.

JM: What’s your favorite part of playing the linebacker position?

TA: I really enjoy playing in space. It allows me to read-and-react to what’s going on around me. I’ve played offense before and let me tell you, tackling people is a helluva lot more fun than being tackled (laughs).

JM: I don’t doubt that (laughs). How does your background on offense make you a better defender?

TA: I think it definitely helps. I understand how offenses are trying to attack to our defense. I just try to take those things away from them. I understand how quarterbacks think. It gives me a leg up in trying to slow down an offense.

JM: You mentioned that you enjoy playing in space. Do you prefer playing in coverage as opposed to coming downhill in the run game?

TA: I don’t necessarily have a preference. I definitely enjoy playing in coverage. If you play football, you definitely like contact, and coming downhill in the run game is a very physical aspect of the game. They’re both a lot of fun.

JM: Who are some of the best players or teams you’ve played against up until now?

TA: I thought the NAU quarterback, Case Cookus was a good one. He can pinpoint where he wants to throw the thing. It was fun to watch, but not a lot of fun to play against (laughs). I’ve played against some tough, athletic offensive linemen as well. I was unfortunately injured for the NDSU game last season, but they have a terrific group of O-linemen. Everybody knows Dillon Radunz.

JM: Radunz is a special one. What can you tell me about the scheme Montana State runs on defense?

TA: We’re mostly a one-high, post defense. Stopping the run is our number one priority. We try to do that and force the opposition to become one-dimensional on offense. We try to get after the quarterback and put a bunch of pressure on him as the game goes on. It’s all about throwing them off their game.

JM: What are three traits a successful linebacker must possess?

TA: You have to be able to shed and get off blocks. You need good eyes to be able to read the game at a high level. Being able to read-and-react is everything. Change of direction skill is also incredibly important. You need to have a feel of what the offense is trying to take advantage of. It’s our job to shut that down.

JM: The Director of the Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy mentioned you as a possibility for the 2021 Senior Bowl. This was before the news of your injury came out, and your decision to red-shirt the 2020 season. I imagine landing on Nagy’s radar was exciting for you, and the 2022 Senior Bowl shouldn’t be out of the question.

TA: Yeah, it was very cool to hear him mention my name. It’s an honor. He’s so well respected in our industry and is the head of such a big showcase. The fact that he knows who I am, even though I come out of Montana State, it’s great. It would be really cool if I could play in the 2022 Senior Bowl.

JM: We look forward to seeing you there. In closing, what can Montana State fans expect from the team this coming season?

TA: They have a lot to look forward to. Everything is still up in the air due to the pandemic but we’re working and preparing as if we’re playing a full season. I think we took quite a few steps forward as a team last season. I think we’re ready to emerge as one of the better teams in the FCS. We’re going to make a run at the title. Montana State fans have every reason to be excited.