MISSOULA – Fans took a good look at Griz football on Friday afternoon. Montana held its first open scrimmage of the spring. And the offense made quite an impression.
Bobby Hauck wanted to put his team through different scenarios. When the offense started backed up against their own goal-line, the defense had the upper hand. But as soon as the coach gave the offense some better field position, they took advantage of it.
Dalton Sneed and Gresch Jensen traded snaps in the quarterback battle and led Montana to 12 touchdowns on 22 drives.
“The first scrimmage the defense pretty much dominated it,” said Hauck referencing a closed scrimmage the Griz held two weeks earlier. “So it was good to see us move the ball a little more effectively today.”
“It’s always good to come out here and see the offense play well, too,” said Griz safety Josh Sandry. “It’s been back and forth through this spring ball, and it’s good to see.”
“It felt pretty good getting out there. We did pretty good as a unit,” added Jensen. “Definitely more comfortable as the practices go on. You start getting the rhythm back. It takes a while, it really does, to kind of get used to everything. Just starting to get there. So I feel pretty comfortable out there today.”
Jensen had a better completion percentage (53% to 35%), but the two QBs had nearly identical yardage (129 to 123) and touchdown (4 to 3) numbers. And the offense didn’t turn the ball over once.
Jensen and Hauck gave a ton of credit to the Grizzlies veteran group of receivers, who beat Montana’s inexperienced defensive backs in many one-on-one battles.
“It’s nice to just have guys that you can throw the ball up to, and let them go make plays for you,” said Jensen. Receivers Samori Toure, Samuel Akem and Justin Calhoun all made difficult touchdown catches in traffic on a very cold day. “That was one of the things going into this offseason that I was so excited about. We’ve got everyone back. Let’s go out there and let’s just work now.”
The only real question mark on offense had a good answer in the scrimmage. Montana doesn’t have a single senior and only returns one starter on the offensive line — junior guard Angel Villanueva. But they paved the way to over four yards per play.
“They did a nice job of protection. I think we ran the ball pretty well, too, at times,” said Hauck. “I think defensively we need to shore it up a bit.”
There’s the hard truth of spring. When one side looks good, the other looks bad. But if Montana’s offense puts it together, they could leave many opponents looking for answers this Fall.
Montana will hold two more practices on Monday and Wednesday, and then wrap it all up with the annual Spring Game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium at 1:00 Saturday April, 14th.