DAVIS, Calif. — The No. 17 Montana Grizzlies needed a bounce-back win last Saturday against Idaho State, one they found by a score of 28-20 to get back on track.
Thought it was a close victory over a historically low-profile opponent, the Grizzlies got it done in the end as they cleaned some things up.
"I think our coaches do a great job reminding us that we just have to do our 1/11th every play," Griz senior linebacker Tyler Flink said. "If you do that and get aligned right, it'll go your way, but you have to make sure to do your 1/11th and they do a great job getting us ready to do that."
"I thought it was vastly better in terms of guys not getting out of sorts and busting trying to do too much or not doing their job so it was good," UM head coach Bobby Hauck said. "Obviously there's always room to improve and we're going to work on that."
Now, the Griz (4-1, 1-1 Big Sky) are on to their toughest challenge yet in No. 20 UC Davis (3-2, 1-1) in what is a top-20 matchup in the FCS, and an opponent Montana hasn't seen since 2019.
"We haven't played Davis since 2019, so it's got like a non-conference feel to it," Hauck said. "It's like a team you've never played before."
"It does kind of feel like a non-conference game," Flink added. "I don't think we know these guys super well, at least my class, but it's going to be a big challenge for us and they're a good football team and we're excited and ready to go."
The last time these two teams met, it was in Davis in 2019 when the Griz upset the then-No. 4 Aggies 45-20 in what was a huge turning point for the program in Hauck's second year back.
The Aggies are led by quarterback Miles Hastings who was an All-American and first team all-conference selection last year.
The Aggies rank in the middle of the pack statistically in the Big Sky Conference on offense and defense, but Davis ranks third in sacks allowed, bad news for a team like Montana that has struggled to create pressure, though Hastings has thrown five interceptions this year, and the Griz lead the country in picks.
"He's consistent," Hauck said. "I think the best thing he does is he knows what he's doing and he's a consistent football player and it's the wild ups and downs. It's not a guy that can make a great play somewhere, it's a guy that can consistently move the ball and help the team be productive and that's his best feature."
With a few other stars, like defensive back Rex Connors, Montana will have its hands full with UC Davis.
Like every week, everyone's eyes will be on the Griz QB situation, as UM has rolled out with a new plan each week with Sam Vidlak and Clifton McDowell to lead what's been an inconsistent offense.
That could be the difference maker in the game, and according to Hauck, things aren't going to change.
"We're just going to do it the way we do it," Hauck said. "If a guy's playing well, he's going to play and hell we might play three or four of them."
It's another must-win for Montana and an opportunity to get a statement victory on the road as they attempt to distance themselves from that loss two weeks ago to Northern Arizona and prove they're back on track.
"I think we're all excited," Flink said. "We go on the road and try to come away with a victory but we're all excited. It's going to be a big challenge for us but we're going to have a good week of prep and be ready to go."