The Montana and Montana State football teams recently announced their practice schedules for spring football as both programs look toward the fall after opting out of the Big Sky Conference spring season earlier in the year.
The Montana Grizzlies will begin spring practices on Friday, the school announced Thursday afternoon. That will be the first of 21 scheduled practices for Griz head coach Bobby Hauck and his team. The practices will run over 36 days and are scheduled to conclude on April 17 when UM hosts fellow Big Sky Conference foe Portland State in a spring football game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Montana is scheduled to practice 16 times before its first spring game, which is scheduled for April 10 against NCAA Division II school Central Washington in Missoula. The Griz will practice five days the following week before meeting the Vikings to finish off the schedule.
"I think it's comforting to our players to be on a normal schedule, to have something to look forward to, and to know what they're doing next week, next month, this summer, etc.," Hauck said in a media release. "I really think that people our players' age function best when they've got structure and discipline, and we're able to provide that now, so they're flourishing."
The Grizzlies return eight starters from the offense and seven on defense. According to the release, the two games against Central Washington and Portland State will count toward career totals and are not labeled as exhibitions.
Practices are closed to the public and media due to health concerns. Attendance details for the two spring games are still to be determined.
Montana State will begin its spring schedule under new head coach Brent Vigen on March 23 at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, the first of 15 scheduled practices for MSU. The final one will be the Sonny Holland Spring Classic which is scheduled to take place on April 24.
"The one thing I look at is there are teams in our league playing games during the unconventional spring season," Vigen said in a media release. "We have to be able to somehow get as close to what they're getting from a competition perspective as we can. They're getting that real, live, going-against-someone else competition, and we have to get in that ballpark. We have to create a competitive environment throughout spring football where our guys are challenged. We need to put them into situations where we can learn who will rise to the occasion."
The Bobcats bring back nine starters on offense and six on defense.
Montana State hasn't stepped on the field for a game since losing to North Dakota State 42-14 on Dec. 21, 2019 in the FCS playoff semifinals to cap off an 11-4 season in what would ultimately be Jeff Choate's last game at MSU. Choate is now the co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Texas.
Montana last played on Dec. 13, 2019, in a 17-10 loss to Weber State in the FCS quarterfinal round to finish off a 10-4 season for the Grizzlies in Hauck's second year at the helm in his second stint as UM's coach.