MISSOULA — Montana football has hit the half-way point of fall camp. Coach Bobby Hauck preaches improving in every part of the game. But there is one key area he knows his team must get better.
Montana had the fourth-best offense in yards gained and scoring in the Big Sky last year. But they also ran the ball less than any other team in the league, a very rare result for a program coached by Hauck.
Montana turned to the pass largely out of necessity, because the maroon and silver struggled to pick up short first downs on the ground. So third-and-one and fourth-and-short will be two key snaps to watch for the Griz this fall.
"Well, we can't be any worse, first," said Hauck about last year's short-yardage struggles. "You have to be able to get short-yardage situations. We've worked hard at that. And we'll get a chance to see soon."
"I'd say that's a huge emphasis," echoed sophomore running back Adam Eastwood. "We weren't very successful on that last year. If we can just improve upon that it will make our team better. Us as running backs, we just want to be accountable, and make our team better and help us win."
Eastwood and junior college transfer Marcus Knight lead the depth chart at running back at the moment. Hauck has also mentioned he is impressed with true freshman Nick Ostmo in fall camp.
Montana will also get more help up front for those short runs. The offensive line returns everyone, gained a ton of size, and should be much improved. And Hauck wants to use more multiple tight-end formations to add a little more power to the ground game.