MISSOULA – It’s a Monday, so it’s time to celebrate another honor for Dante Olson.
The breakout star at linebacker for the Montana Grizzlies put up ridiculous tackle totals again last weekend, so the Big Sky Conference named Olson defensive player of the week yet again.
The junior from Medford, Ore., has won the Big Sky award three times already. He came up one shy of an all-time Grizzly record with 24 tackles against Cal Poly, the highest total for any FCS player this season. He leads the country in total tackles by a wide margin.
Olson has the talent to make plays all over the field, but his coach notices a couple other traits that allow him to do it over and over again.
“The first thing is, he’s playing hard,” said Bobby Hauck. “He’s a fierce player. He doesn’t take a play off, and that’s contagious. You know, when it’s his play to make, he’s making it. He’s not missing much. That’s what great players do. They take advantage of opportunity. Good for him. When we have people winning game balls and winning player of the week, then that means we’re doing things right.”
Montana’s defense ranks in the middle of the Big Sky statistically, but it feels much more dominant. Other than a few long plays versus Sacramento State, that defense has punished plenty of opponents. While the Griz won’t play another triple-option team again, lessons learned from facing Cal Poly can make the D even stronger.
“That’s something we take pride in on defense is being one of the most physical and relentless defenses in the conference or in the nation,” said freshman starting safety Robby Hauck, who had his own impressive total with 17 tackles at Cal Poly. “I’d say the biggest thing about defending the triple-option is having good eye discipline. And it’s really playing your 1/11th on the field. Eyes, I guess, are always a big thing playing defense, especially in the secondary.”
Olson, Hauck and the rest of the Griz D plan to come flying out of the tunnel and into the Portland State backfield during Homecoming this coming Saturday.