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Montana Griz position preview: Special teams unit continues to make an impact

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Posted at 8:01 PM, Aug 24, 2021

(Editor's note: This is the eighth in an eight-part series highlighting the position groups for the Montana Grizzlies football team. For Part 1 on the quarterbacks, click here. For Part 2 on the running backs, click here. For Part 3 on the wide receivers/tight ends, click here. For Part 4 on the offensive line, click here. For Part 5 on the defensive line, click here. For Part 6 on the linebackers, click here. For Part 7 on the defensive backs, click here).

MISSOULA -- The Montana Grizzlies special teams unit has made a strong impact over the years.

From Marc Mariani, to more recent years with Jerry Louie-McGee. But this year's kick returner, Malik Flowers, says this year Griz fans should not expect anything different. Between him and Gabe Sulser both returning kickoffs, Flowers says go ahead and pick your poison.

“Who do you want to kick it to cause we both can make plays," said Flowers, who has three kick return touchdowns to his name at Montana. "We are both going to block for each other. And we got the guys up front doing a great job for us so it is good to see how everything is coming along and we are progressing pretty well.“

Part of that progression is bringing the young guys along and that includes two place kickers and a punter. Montana coach Bobby Hauck said on Monday that the team has yet to name a starting kicker, and it could be a committee approach. Camden Capser and Carver Gilman entered as UM's kickers and were recently joined by Arizona State transfer Kevin Macias. Brian Buschini returns from the spring as UM's punter. Sulser also starts at punt return along with his kick return duties.

Long snapper Matthew O’Donoghue, who was an All-American in 2019, is loaded with experience going into his final year as a redshirt senior and says he has no doubt this young special teams unit will make an impact.

"They have gotten pretty competitive trying to make themselves better, perfect their own craft," O'Donoghue said. "They have been chugging along pretty well.”

And Flowers, who will start the season with 1,486 career kick return yards, needing just 600 yards to break the school record, also agrees.

"Some of the younger guys are going in there and getting a feel for some of our play calls and how to work the backside being a main returner," Flowers explained. "They are catching on pretty quickly, we get in there and we help them when we can. But as far as hitting it and knowing where the seams are working, first vertical seams, working back side, lead blockers, and all those things, they are doing pretty well and they are getting used to it pretty quickly.“

Griz specialists on the 2021 roster by number

Punter
No. 29, Brian Buschini, R-FR, 6-foot, 219 pounds, Helena, MT

Kicker
No. 12, Camden Capser, FR, 6-2, 165 pounds, Billings, MT
No. 41, Kevin Macias, R-SR, 6-0, 185 pounds, Mesa, AZ
No. 82, Carver Gilman, R-FR, 6-4, 192 pounds, Whitefish, MT

Longsnapper
No. 49, Matthew O'Donoghue, R-SR, 6-1, 260 pounds, Santa Ana, CA
No. 43, Grayson Pibal, FR, 6-3, 195 pounds, Clackamas, OR

Kick return
No. 7, Gabe Sulser, JR, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Billings, MT
No. 19, Malik Flowers, 6-2, 200 pounds, Fontana, CA

Punt return
No. 7, Gabe Sulser, JR, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Billings, MT
No. 17, Robby Hauck, R-JR, 5-10, 185 pounds, Missoula, MT