MISSOULA — Montana’s football coaches are spending a lot of time on one position group this spring, and it’s the same group that coach Bobby Hauck has been focused on improving since he returned to Missoula.
The big guys on Montana’s offensive line find themselves in the spotlight more than usual. The Griz return seven linemen that started at least three games last season, but they’re still looking for the right combination.
“Well, it’s kind of everything for us,” said Hauck. “We’ve got some people that have played at a lot of positions, and played well. And I think that the distance that that group travels and how far they progress will dictate the number of (wins) we have next fall.”
“(Offensive line coach Chad) Germer is coaching them very hard, and does a great job with them,” said senior quarterback Dalton Sneed. “Coach Rosey (offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach) pushes them every day. Coach Hauck is always in them behind the play. Always yelling at them, ‘Let’s go. Break the huddle.’ So they’re getting pushed every day, and they are just progressing every day with their protections, with their run blocking. I mean, they are just clearing holes left and right.”
Hauck echoed his quarterback in that he is impressed so far, but he’s also very glad the Grizzlies have several more months to develop the O-line, including through two more weeks of spring practice.
UM brings back a ton of players with starting experience, but a few new faces are using the spring to show they deserve some playing time this fall.
That includes in the backfield where Marcus Knight is turning heads. The junior college transfer from California took 10 carries in Montana’s first scrimmage, more than anyone else, and found the end zone once.
Knight gained more than 900 yards and more than seven yards per carry at Citrus College last fall. Now the sophomore, and former high school track and lacrosse star, steps in at a position of need for the Grizzlies.
“We’re not real deep, certainly. He’s a dynamic presence. He’s got good ability. He’s got pretty good size,” said Hauck. “He’s a physical guy, but he’s got good speed. He just needs to catch up to the speed of this level of football.”
Montana gets back on the field again on Wednesday and then kicks off its second spring scrimmage on Friday afternoon in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The annual Spring Game takes place up in Kalispell on Saturday, April 13.