MISSOULA – Montana football fans are getting ready for the season to start, as we are closing in on kickoff at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. No. 24 Montana opens with a stiff challenge, facing the 13th-ranked Northern Iowa Panthers out of the Missouri Valley Conference.
One of the interesting contrasts in this game is the unknown of Montana versus the familiarity of Northern Iowa. Mark Farley is in his 18th year coaching at UNI, while we still don’t know exactly what Bobby Hauck’s team will look like in his return to Missoula. Northern Iowa returns 16 starters from an FCS playoff squad. The Griz will start more freshmen than seniors.
At quarterback, the Panthers’ Eli Dunne threw for 2,700 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. Montana turns to Dalton Sneed, a junior transfer, with another transfer, Cam Humphrey, at backup. But coach Hauck likes how both of his guys will handle the big scene.
“They’re both mature fellas, and I don’t think that’s probably an issue,” said Hauck. “For us, it’s between the white lines. Everybody is there to enjoy the game, but our guys better be focused on what’s happening between the lines. The quarterback is a good player. Any time you have a veteran at that position it helps, particularly when you’re going on the road to open the season. I think he’ll handle things well.”