Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Montana Grizzlies 2010 Review

2010 Record: 7-4 (5-3), Tied 3rd Big Sky
2010 Playoffs: None
2010 Schedule/Results
Western State, W 73-2
@ Cal Poly, L 35-33
@ Eastern Washington, L 36-27
Sacramento State, W 28-25
@ Northern Colorado, W 30-7
Idaho State, W 47-28
@ Portland State, W 23-21
Northern Arizona, W 24-21
@ Weber State, L 30-21
North Dakota, W 27-17
Montana State, L 21-16

373.5 yards per game

The offense was a bit of a drag in 2010 for the Montana Grizzlies, and it may have been a major part of the reason that UM did not end up back in their usual role of playoff favorite. The run game was a weakness, as the Grizzlies only rolled up 139.9 yards per game, not heinous by any measure, but not great either. Justin Roper, a former Oregon transfer, didn't exactly light the world up with his meager 1885 yards and 19 TDs. He managed to throw one pick for every game played (11) and his other numbers did not sustain enough to warrant a succesful season by Grizzly standards. It was too much of a deficiency for even Chase Reynolds to carry as the UM primary ball carrier. Reynolds averaged 85 yards per game and scored 8 TDs, which was not enough on its own to offset the lack of a serious passing attack. Antwon Moutra and Jabin Sambrano were the top two receivers, and neither managed 40 catches on the season, and even together only managed 9 TD receptions on the season. Not typical for a Montana attack at all. The news gets a little bit worse, as Roper and Reynolds both need to be replaced, meaning an entirely new backfield for the Grizzlies heading into spring football.

289.8 yards per game allowed

The defense is the one area that was not a letdown for the Grizzlies in 2010. The UM defense only allowed 140 yards passing per game, and 149 yards on the ground per game. You never got a chance to ever run up on Montana, you had to take opportunities off of the turnovers that the offense provided to beat them on a short field. At times, not even that approach seemed keen. If there was a play to be made, then Caleb McSurdy was near it. He averaged over 10 tackles per game on the season. Tyler Hobbs, Jordan Tripp, McSurdy, and Alex Shaw all made at least one trip per game into the backfield to make plays behind the line. as was Bryan Waldhauser. All but Hobbs will return in 2011. The secondary was second in the conference in interceptions with 12, and also led the Big Sky in pass defense. Trumaine Johnson and Brandon Dodson combined for 12 pass defenses on the season, and both will return in 2011. Johnson and Erik Stroll combined for 9 picks and 3 TDs on the season, but Stroll will have to be replaced in 2011.


Brody McKnight was solid on the year, having connected on 14 of 18 FG attempts. He'll be back as a senior in 2011, and Montana should be able to lean on him to get the job done with a young QB and backfield.
McKnight did also handle the punting duties, but was less than stellar in that area, averaging just over 38 yards per punt. It is hoped that someone can push him in the spring, and allow for him to concentrate on PK duties, but that remains to be seen at this point.
Peter Nguyen was solid on punt returns, avergaing over 12 yards per handle. He'll be back as a junir next season, and will also be a candidate to move into the full time RB job. He racked up an additional 670 yards as the primary kick returner as well.


It was a tough first go for new HC Robin Pflugrad, having taken over for the legendary Bobby Hauck, who had left for UNLV after winning 83% of his games at Montana. Pflugrad will likely rebuild Montana quickly, as they were only 25 points away from a perfect season in 2010.
Worth mentioning also is that Montana looks locked into the Big Sky, which will be expanding in 2012. Montana resisted an offer to join a rebuilding WAC, which brought cheers from the Big Sky faithful, as one of the best schools athletically in the conference remained in the fold, bolstering the leagues hold in the FCS.
Montana has, unfortunately, slipped a notch or two in the immediate futre, as Montana State and Eastern Washington have made major strides. They shouldn't drop too far, but work has to be done to get the offense back up to speed, and that work will commence shortly.

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