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Montana Grizzlies position preview: Competition ramps up at QB between Lucas Johnson, Kris Brown

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Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 10, 2022

(Editor's note: This is the first in a seven-part series highlighting the position groups for the 2022 Montana Grizzlies football team).

MISSOULA — With fall camp officially underway for the Montana Grizzlies football team, we'll take a look at the position groups the Grizzlies will put on the field this coming fall.

Starting things off is the quarterback battle between Kris Brown and Lucas Johnson as these two continue their competition which carries over from this past spring.

Johnson arrived in January after transferring to the Griz from San Diego State, a program he helped lead to a bowl win in 2021 and threw for 1,424 yards passing and 12 touchdowns on the season.

Johnson started getting acclimated to UM right from the get-go in the spring, and head coach Bobby Hauck said on Tuesday they exited spring ball with Johnson holding a slight edge over Brown for the job.

But Johnson said he's noticed his play become elevated while competing for this job against his teammate. The two also got a chance to compete directly with each other in the spring game back in April.

"If you have nobody pushing you, then you could have lazy days and be like I'm just going to slack off today," Johnson said. "We already have somebody right behind you or you're working with somebody, it pushes you everyday to make sure you're on your game."

Johnson has a lot of FBS experience to his name as he enters his final season of college ball, with a stop at Georgia Tech prior to SDSU.

He'll draw on that as he focuses on finding consistency with the offense and continues to grow and understand UM's playbook.

"I thought spring ball went really well," Johnson said. "I think this summer, just really tried to work on grasping the offense more, getting with the guys and going and working on our craft. Consistency is always key, getting your feet in the right place, eyes in the right spot. So just getting reps and reps and reps to make sure that you master the craft."

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Montana Grizzlies quarterback Kris Brown runs through warmups during fall camp on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022 at Dornblaser Field.

Brown received his first in-game reps last year in relief when former Griz QB Cam Humphrey went down with injury mid-season. He went 3-1 in games he started and finished the season completing 65% of his passes while throwing for for 1,029 yards, three touchdowns and four picks.

Coming into fall, Brown notices that experience aiding his game as he competes for the job once again.

"Getting those game reps was huge," Brown said. "It was my first time playing in college and learned a lot from it. I definitely feel more experienced, feel like I have a better understanding of the offense and just understanding the way that college football really is, not just practice but games as well."

Like Johnson, Brown said he sees that competition as a way for both players to see the best brought out of them.

"Learning the system, becoming more comfortable in particular at that position, more reps, more time through the installation, helps everybody especially at quarterback," Hauck said. "The interesting thing about quarterback is practice is the same for them everyday. If we go scrimmage, it's the same for them, we don't tackle them. They've got a chance to improve everyday and they aren't involved in the blocking and tackling piece so everyday is good for them."

After spring concluded, the two used the offseason and player-run practices to continue to improve in the summer as they head into fall camp.

There can only be one starter come Sept. 3, but with two quarterbacks as possible candidates, depth, never hurts.

"We just have to focus on making each other better," Brown said. "At the end of the day, that's what competition's all about and I think Lucas is a great guy and I think we get along well and that we do a great job of pushing each other and competing with each other."

Griz quarterbacks on the 2022 roster by number

No. 7, Lucas Johnson, R-SR, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, San Diego, CA
No. 8, Daniel Britt, R-FR, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Las Vegas, NV
No. 12, Kris Brown, R-SO, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Bozeman, MT
No. 16, Kaden Huot, FR, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Helena, MT
No. 17, AJ Abbott, R-FR, 6-foot-2, 233 pounds, Houston, TX