Cal Poly ranks first in the FCS for rushing yards per game. (MTN Sports photo)

MISSOULA – Montana opens up conference play against an opponent that has given the Griz plenty of problems in recent years. UM travels to Cal Poly to face the Mustangs.

Their triple option attack piled up 330 rushing yards in a win over Montana last year. And it’s even more deadly so far this season. The Mustangs have a huge lead as the top rushing attack in the country, averaging nearly 400 yards on the ground per game. Fullback Joe Protheroe has run for more yards than any other FCS back, mostly on quick dives up the middle. Montana does have one advantage, though. Last week’s bye gave the defense two weeks to plan for the unique challenge.

“It’s huge because what you said is a big key, the scout team being able to emulate what they do on offense,” said Griz head coach Bob Stitt. “And being able to have that extra week. Then we go into practice, they can give us a good look.”

“Their triple option is definitely something that we won’t see again for the rest of the year,” added middle linebacker Connor Strahm. “So getting two weeks on it is a pretty big deal.”

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New defensive coordinator Jason Semore has some ideas to change Montana’s woes against option offenses. “We’re going to have a different approach, but we’re also going to have a couple different calls,” explained Strahm. “So those two things are a little bit different this year.”

Montana has lost the last two games against the Mustangs. And the Grizzlies have fallen in their last two trips to Cal Poly. They’ll kickoff in San Luis Obispo at 1:00 Mountain Time Saturday.