MISSOULA — The 13 head football coaches from the Big Sky Conference, including Montana's Bobby Hauck, led off the Big Sky Virtual Kickoff as they covered a number of topics. On Day 2, the top players from the league, including Montana's Samori Toure, wrapped up the kickoff.
The Grizzlies may have one of the deepest and most talented wide receiving corps in the nation.
“We always knew what we could do," said Toure. "But now that everybody is starting to see how many weapons we have ... it's starting to look really good.”
There’s a number of talented weapons on the UM offense, but no one came out of 2019 with a more impressive year than Toure as he broke the Grizzlies' single-season record with 1,495 receiving yards.
If the Griz play in 2020, Toure needs just 533 yards and 37 more catches to become Montana’s most prolific receiver of all-time.
Rightfully so, there’s a lot of hype around Toure entering the fall, but he said he felt more pressure last year.
“I wasn't performing as well as I could, so I felt like my junior year was my make-it-or-break-it season," said Toure. "I needed to prove myself now and I feel like I did that. It was just a big confidence booster for me and now I'm just ready to go out and play. ”
While Toure is aiming for another big year, there are some obvious changes -- not only the loss of quarterback Dalton Sneed but with COVID-19 affecting the preseason, as well.
“Spring ball is the time where you’re just grinding, and that's where you make some of the biggest jumps," said Toure. "You're trying to fix everything you did wrong through the previous season, you try to get right for the next season. With how limited our practices were that kind of set everybody back.”
Toure also touched on the changes that he's seen in the program since Hauck returned to Montana.
"Just being more disciplined," said Toure. "All of our team has come a lot closer and we're starting to hold each other responsible for not living up to the standard. Something coach Hauck emphasized when he got here was, hold yourself to a higher standard. If you don't hold yourself to a high standard you won't succeed in anything."
There are still a lot of unknowns, including the biggest of all, whether a season will even happen in the fall, but Toure still has his eyes on September and he’s setting the expectations sky-high for the Grizzlies.
“There's really only one (goal) and it's that ring," he said. "We really feel like we have the weapons this year. We have a great group of seniors, great group of leaders, and especially building off of that momentum from last year. We lost a few pieces, but we gained pieces in positions that we lost. Coming off of last year we're just trying to keep that momentum going and hopefully win the Big Sky because last year we came up short, barely. It just left a bad taste in all of our mouths, so we're trying to get that right.”
A deadline of Aug. 1 is set for the conference to make a decision on the fall football season.