(Story by Griz Communications)
MISSOULA – The sun came out in Missoula on Monday, and for maybe the first time this year it felt like spring.
The surest sign of spring, however, was inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium as the Montana football team took to the field for its first of 14 practices that will culminate in the annual Spring Game in Kalispell on April 13.
“It’s just awesome to be out here finally. Wish we could have gone last week, but we couldn’t and today made up for it,” said head coach Bobby Hauck after a spirited opening session.
“I thought the energy level and the enthusiasm were good that, obviously, needs to continue.”
The first practice of the spring season was a no-frills affair designed to give Hauck and his staff their first look at the 2019 squad over the course of a 22-period, no-pads session.
Spirits were obviously high – players flying around, making big plays – but it was all business for the Griz as the team seeks to improve on 2018’s 6-5 record.
“We get 15 chances to get out and practice, and we want to get better. We need improvement,” said Hauck.
“Though we did some decent things last fall, no one here is satisfied with the result, and we want to get better.”
The Grizzlies picked up where they left off in 2018, with familiar faces re-introducing themselves during the offense vs defense periods.
Senior QB Dalton Sneed hasn’t lost a step, showing all the pace he did last year when he broke the Montana school record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game (206). QB reps were split mostly evenly between Sneed and junior Cam Humphrey, while the younger Garrett Graves and Wheeler Harris each got time under center as well.
As they did last year, the quarterbacks had a plethora of more-than-able receivers to target, with Samuel Akem hauling in several big passes, Mitch Roberts making an eye-popping leaping catch, and breakout returner Malik Flowers pulling in a pair of touchdown grabs.
The ground game also got plenty of work, with returning starter Adam Eastwood looking strong, and transfer running back Marcus Knight showing plenty of speed, earning reps along with UM’s younger backs like Big Sky’s Levi Janacaro and Drew Turner.
Defensively, Kobey Eaton hauled in a nice interception, and UM’s corps of linebackers was seemingly everywhere, as expected.
The overall team chemistry was evident, and for Hauck, is a clear indicator the Griz are way ahead of where they were this time last year.
“Everybody is more comfortable with what we’re doing. We’ll get more work done this spring simply because we’re a year down that path,” said Hauck.
The Grizzlies return to the field on Tuesday for the second of their first two helmets-only practices.
Current 2019 Spring Schedule:
Tues. 3/12 – Practice 2 – Pro Day
Wed. 3/13 – Practice 3
Fri. 3/15 – Practice 4
Fri-Sat 3/15-16 – Spring Coaches Clinic
Sat. 3/16 – Practice 5
Mon. 3/18 – Practice 6
Wed. 3/20 – Practice 7
Fri. 3/22 – Practice 8 – Scrimmage 1
3/25 – 3/29 – Spring Break
Mon. 4/1 – Practice 9
Wed. 4/3 – Practice 10
Fri. 4/5 – Practice 11 – Scrimmage 2
Mon. 4/8 – Practice 12
Wed. 4/10 – Practice 13
Thurs. 4/11 – Practice 14
Sat. 4/13 – Spring Game – Kalispell, Mont. – 1 PM
** Schedule subject to change