The prodigal son has returned home to lead the proud Montana football program. Bobby Hauck is back in Missoula, looking to once again take the Griz back to the national championship game like he did twice before (2008-2009).
The grand plan has been a roller coaster affair thus far in 2018, however. After beginning the season with an impressive 26-23 win over Northern Iowa, the Griz have started to show signs of wear that culminated in a massive upset loss to 25 point underdog Portland State at home last weekend.
Montana is currently sitting at 4-2 on the year. A good start for sure but not what they wanted, especially after last weekend.
Sep 01, 2018 NORTHERN IOWA W 26-23
Sep 08, 2018 DRAKE W 48-16
Sep 15, 2018 at Western Illinois L 27-31
Sep 22, 2018 SACRAMENTO STATE W 41-34
Sep 29, 2018 at Cal Poly W 48-28
Oct 06, 2018 PORTLAND STATE L 20-22
Montana is averaging 35 points per game and allowing 26.
Montana is allowing more rushing yards than they are gaining — 178-169. Although, teams are only averaging 3.8 yards per rush vs. the Griz defense.
Overall yardage is about dead even — 410-409 in yards gained vs. allowed.
One statistic that goes in favor of the Hawks is that the Griz are allowing a 40% conversion rate on 3rd down. That is 6th best in the Big Sky but not what they want. Conversely, UND is converting at 41% and only allowing teams to convert at 33%.
Montana kicker Tim Semenza is 10-10 on field goals.
The man who run the show for the Griz offense is #11 QB Dalton Sneed (6’1″-207). The UNLV transfer is their version of former USD QB Chris Streveler. Montana doesn’t run as much power running game with Sneed as the Yotes did with Streveler but they want Sneed running the ball via zone read game. On the year Sneed is 136-222 for 1,396 yards and 10 TD’s vs 3 INT’s. He possesses very good speed and is a threat to break one on every play via the zone-read game. Sneed is their leading rusher with 72 rushes for 516 yards and 5 TD’s.
#25 RB Adam Eastwood is the bell cow of the offense with 83 rushes for 411 yards and 6 TD’s. The next closest in rushing attempts is Elijah Lee with 16. As you can see, when the Griz run the ball it’s either Sneed or Eastwood doing the work.
Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to the Montana WR corps. They have five players with 19 catches or more but none with more than 29. The lack the superstar playmaker that they have had in the past but all of the WR’s are capable of making plays, led by diminutive speedster #16 Jerry Louie-McGee. McGee has 29 catches for 305 yards and 1 TD. The Griz like to use him with jet sweeps and plays that get him in space to make guys miss.
The Montana defense has been decent this year. They are allowing 26 points and 409 yards of offense to their opponent. They have also notched five INT’s.
#33 LB Dante Olson has been a tackling dynamo thus far in 2018. Olson has 98 tackles through six games, an astonishing 16 tackles/game. He also has five sacks and 2 INT’s. The 6’3″-235 pounder is a force that UND is going to need to identify each and every play on Saturday. Allowing Olson to roam around and make plays is not a recipe for success.
As you can see, this is a solid Montana football team. They probably should have won the Western Illinois game being they had the lead but coughed it up late. They are beat up along the offensive line and had a couple players leave the game temporarily last weeks vs. PSU.
The big matchup this week will be UND’s defensive line vs. UM offensive line. If the Hawks can control the line and get pressure with only four guys it will allow them to cover up the RPO (run-pass option) game that UM likes to use. It will also allow them to spread out and help with the 3-4 wide receiver sets. Montana likes to spread teams out as much as possible and create creases for Sneed & Eastwood, while also running quick screens out wide.
Photos courtesy of University of Montana Athletics. https://gogriz.com/galleries/?gallery=760