MISSOULA – It’s usually not a good sign when you hear somebody saying, “Well, our punter looked good.”

But several thousand people felt that way in Washington-Grizzly Stadium this past Saturday, and the Montana Grizzlies are thrilled about it.

Eric Williams impressed the crowd and his team with several huge boots versus Valparaiso. The junior averaged 53.2 yards on his four punts and didn’t give up any return yards, forcing three fair catches and stopping a 58-yarder on the one-yard line that coach Bob Stitt called the best punt he had ever seen.

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The Missoula Loyola product averaged just more than 40 yards per punt last season, but now he feels he belongs, and his kicks are taking off.

“I obviously grew up in Missoula and came to a lot of Griz games,” said Williams, “so these have always been the people that I looked up to. I’m starting to come into that role of understanding that I’m on the team. I’m not a fan anymore. I’ve worked hard enough to be able to be successful. That’s helped me a lot this year, having faith that I’m in this role for a reason, and I can be pretty good at it.”

Williams also takes care of kickoffs for the Grizzlies, and caused two touchbacks on his eight attempts.

Special teams and everyone else in maroon and silver will need a great day on Saturday. Montana takes on the seventh-ranked Washington Huskies in Seattle.

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