MISSOULA – Bobby Hauck has inherited a young group of Grizzlies. The new University of Montana head football coach is putting together a team that will rely heavily on underclassmen, including perhaps a few freshmen. But the 13 seniors on the current roster will still play a huge role.
Montana doesn’t suit up a single senior on the offensive line, and only one in the secondary. But they do have returning experience, particularly at the skill positions on offense, and in the front seven on defense.
And after two straight years of missing the playoffs, and a coaching change creating excitement around the program, the seniors feel the importance of every snap as their career winds down.
“It kind of hit me, the sense of urgency that I need to have,” said receiver Keenan Curran about how he felt entering spring practice. “And not just me, the whole senior class and this team. But it definitely hits you harder when you’re a senior. It’s the last time around.”
“I’m grateful that I’m done with the winter conditioning for sure,” Curran added with a smile. “But there’s a different sense of urgency than the last two springs.”
“The thing that I’m seeing specifically from the seniors, but from everyone, is the enthusiasm is good,” said Hauck. “They want to compete. They want to win. And they’ve been really receptive to everything we’ve thrown at them. Our guys have done a good job with the tempo and the physical play that we are trying to encourage.”
Hauck likes what he has seen from his veteran d-line. But he added that the offensive line that only brings back one starter (junior guard Angel Villanueva) has more than held their own so far in practice. Hauck said Montana needs to see the most improvement in the secondary, where the Grizzlies are very green.