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Montana State football will face a last-minute challenge heading into the 2018 season, as they will be without an All-American talent.

On Wednesday, Montana State head coach Jeff Choate announced that starting quarterback Chris Murray will be redshirted for the 2018 season because of academic reasons.

Murray has been the signal caller in Bozeman for the past two seasons after winning the starting job halfway through his freshman year in 2016 on the way to winning Big Sky freshman of the year. He was expected to be the starter prior to the announcement. Montana State finished 10th and sixth in the Big Sky in Murray's two seasons behind center.

The dual-threat quarterback threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another pair last season against Northern Arizona in a 37-36 Lumberjacks win at the Walkup Skydome.

Potentially in the running for the starting job in Bozeman is Arizona native and former Peoria Centennial High School quarterback Ruben Beltran, who signed with the program in May.

Northern Arizona and Montana State are not scheduled to play this season.

In other conference news, 2017 Big Sky co-champion Southern Utah is also facing a shakeup late in the offseason.

The Thunderbirds will be starting a search for a new defensive coordinator after the school announced Rod Chance would be leaving to take a new position at a Pac-12 school. 

Chance has spent the past two seasons at the helm of the Southern Utah defense and coached the team to the third-best scoring defense last season, having allowed 28 points per game.

According to The Spectrum, Southern Utah head coach Demario Warren will take over the defensive play calling duties as he was the defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2015.

It is not known what or where the position is as no school as been specified.

Northern Arizona plays Southern Utah in both schools' Big Sky openers Sept. 22 at the Skydome. 

Lance Hartzler can be reached at 556-2251 or at lhartzler@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @lance_hartz.

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Sports Reporter

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