MISSOULA – Every coach is going to do things a little differently, so, naturally, there’s always an adjustment when someone new takes over a college football program.
Bobby Hauck is no stranger to Montana, but none of the current Grizzlies have played a game for him.
The first year hasn’t always been kind to new Griz coaches lately. Bob Stitt did go to the playoffs, but the three previous men in charge, including Hauck in his first stint, had their toughest seasons right out of the gate.
So Hauck needs to get things rolling quickly. He has praised the way his new players have bought in to everything his coaching staff has preached. The Grizzlies say buying in is all about hard work.
“Buying in is just, you don’t give up, you know what I mean?” said senior defensive tackle David Shaw. “You go as hard as the coach wants you to go. You give everything you have. Everybody’s been doing that. But you have to buy in to be successful.”
“I think it’s just the attitude that people bring day in and day out,” said junior transfer quarterback Dalton Sneed, who joined the team this spring and now is the front-runner to be the starter. “It’s not easy getting up every morning and lifting at 5:45 four days a week. It’s not easy coming in later when it’s really hot and going to PRPs (Player Run Practices). So everybody showing up, everybody giving 100 percent every day, that’s what it takes to win, and that’s what coach is talking about with people buying in. People want it. People want to have a leader that is really rallying behind them, and that’s what we have with coach Hauck, so it’s been awesome.”
Washington-Grizzly Stadium is universally considered one of, if not the best, football venues in all of the FCS. But as Hauck returns to his alma mater, he’s taking his team away from the home stadium.
Montana is practicing during fall camp at South Campus, right next to the Grizzly softball, soccer and track stadiums at Dornblaser Field.
Hauck feels the move can benefit his team for several reasons. The Grizzlies can spread out over a wider area for position drills. Plus, the move also makes the players get used to new routines, while also enjoying a new surface.
“One, I think grass is safer. I just do,” said Hauck. “I know the turf is consistent and is a great playing surface, especially later in the year. But I think grass is safer, so that’s why we’re out here. There’s a lot of space. It’s good. A little change of venue is good. We have to play wherever on whatever surface we get asked to play on. Getting out of the stadium was part of the plan this spring, but the weather didn’t cooperate.”
As an old-school coach, Hauck laments that it’s difficult to make fall camp hard for the players anymore. The NCAA did away with two-a-day practices, and with more consistent summer workouts the Griz don’t need as many conditioning drills. But mid-afternoon practices in the heat are still providing a big test for the Maroon and Silver this week.
Hauck liked the physical play of his team during Friday’s third practice. Montana hits the field again Saturday afternoon, before wearing full pads for the first time on Sunday.