MISSOULA — The Montana Grizzly defense went 165 minutes without allowing a point, dating from their opening drive against Washington to late on Saturday against Cal Poly. Griz head coach Bobby Hauck said the thing that makes him most proud is the effort they put in day in and day out
"I think it is temperament and effort level," Hauck said after Saturday's 39-7 win over Cal Poly. "They are after it when the ball gets kicked off, they are after the guys in the other color jersey and I appreciate guys that love to play."
The defense has been responding these past three games with six interceptions so far this season. Three of those interceptions came in the opener against Washington, one against Western Illinois and two on Saturday against Cal Poly. The Grizzlies have also recovered a pair of fumbles this season to make it eight forced turnovers and Montana has also racked up 13 total sacks to this point so far, including four on Saturday.
All of that helped create the 165-minute scoreless streak UM's defense was on between the three games.
"Current time, modern-day college football, that is a lot of quarters, a lot of drives and a lot of minutes without a defense giving up a point. And it is phenomenal," said Hauck.
Along with allowing a limited number of points, the Griz defense found a way to score itself. Defensive end Justin Belknap, who scored a 24-yard pick-6 against Cal Poly Saturday night, says that with this depth chart, be ready for an aggressive defensive line for the full 60 minutes.
"Since we have so many good players on the defensive line, knowing that you have two, three deep that can do the job just as well as you can, it's very satisfying," said Belknap.
Not only does the depth show the physical ability of this team, but Hauck says they are just as tough mentally.
"I think football is played by tough people and you have to be both mentally and physically tough to be successful in the game and I think we have a tough football team," Hauck said.
No. 4 Montana (3-0, `1-0 Big Sky Conference) now focuses on a big matchup with No. 6 Eastern Washington (4-0, 1-0) which will be played in Cheney, Washington, next Saturday.