MISSOULA – With the 6-5 Montana Grizzlies’ season ending Saturday to their rival Montana State Bobcats, it’s time for the program to look ahead at next season. And Montana head coach Bob Stitt has already started doing that.
The second-year head coach led his team–which included 40 newcomers–to a 5-1 start this season. However, in the final five games, Montana had just one victory, and the team fell out of its top-10, and out of the FCS playoffs for just the third time since 1992. Despite that, and of course feedback from Griz Nation, the coaching staff sees no room to panic.
“We have confidence in that’s how it’s going to be done,” said Stitt. “There’s been a lot of examples in a lot of places that you just have got to stay the course and keep plugging away, and at some point it’s going to click.
“We’re not going to panic; we’re going to keep going. Do I want to get it done fast? Yeah I want to get it done as fast as possible. I want people to be satisfied with the job we’re doing; we want to do that. But also internally I know what’s going on and how we need to move this forward.”
Montana will lose some of its leaders this season. For example, quarterback Brady Gustafson, and defensive linemen Caleb Kidder and Ryan Johnson, among others; but as mentioned previously, the team brought 40 new faces to camp this season. Now Stitt is expecting a year of experience to pay its dividends.
“I can’t wait to pull the redshirt off of [our players] and get them out there,” he added. “The plan that we had was to build this thing for sustainability. It needs to be sustainable over time, to where every class is really solid. To where when you graduate a group of seniors, you’re just plugging in the new guys.
“So, there’s a plan in place. We’ve got great players; we’ve got awesome young players and they’re chomping at the bit to get after it. We’re gonna put another class together, and another one, and another one, and we’re going to be loaded. We’re absolutely going to be loaded.”
Montana looks towards Sept. 2, when it opens its season hosting Valparaiso in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.