Analysis

Early returns show Griz, ‘Cats took advantage of long off-season

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Perhaps the only line that Jeff Choate and Bobby Hauck echo of one another is among each of their most favorite lines: you can only get better at playing football by playing football.

Montana only played two games between the end of 2019’s run to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs and the opening fo the current season.

Montana State waited so long to play, Choate bailed to take the co-defensive coordinator position with Pete Kwiatkowski on Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Texas between MSU’s run to the 2019 FCS playoffs semifinals and the 2021 season opener as the Bobcats did not participate in any spring competition, either.

Still, early returns are that, despite not playing in games of consequence for 21 months, the Bobcats and Grizzlies are as physically fit, strong and dedicated the procedure of preparation as they have been in quite some time, particularly simultaneously.

Montana State looked every bit as physically powerful as a Wyoming team led by a ultra-veteran offensive line expected to be one of the best fronts in the Mountain West and a defense almost always defined by its physical play under eighth-year head coach Craig Bohl.

Brent Vigen’s Bobcats went toe to toe with the Pokes, arguably winning the contest at the point of attack along the line of scrimmage in a 19-16 loss. Montana State has looked lean and mean, flying around defensively and dominating a pair of squads from the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. Competition level aside, the execution has been sharp.

MSU’s clear physical gains and mental sharpness pail in comparison to the ferocity, depth and attention to detail displayed thus far by Montana’s intimidating defensive unit. Montana enters Saturday’s conference opener having allowed exactly two touchdowns, including just one to an opposing offense; Washington scored on its opening drive and then never again as the Griz toppled the No. 20 Huskies in Seattle to open this season in resounding fashion. The Griz have held opposing offenses scoreless for 115 minutes and counting.

“Persistence and work ethic are kind of demands around here but they have to be embraced by the individuals on the team and I think they certainly have. The confidence level is really high coming and we showed that confidence against our first two opponents,” Hauck said.

Perhaps the only line that Jeff Choate and Bobby Hauck echo of one another is among each of their most favorite lines: you can only get better at playing football by playing football.

Montana only played two games between the end of 2019’s run
to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs and the opening fo the current season.

Montana State waited so long to play, Choate bailed to take the co-defensive coordinator position with Pete Kwiatkowski on Steve Sarkisian’s staff at Texas between MSU’s run to the 2019 FCS playoffs semifinals and the 2021 season opener as the Bobcats did not participate in any spring competition, either.

Still, early returns are that, despite not playing in games
of consequence for 21 months, the Bobcats and Grizzlies are as physically fit,
strong and dedicated the procedure of preparation as they have been in quite
some time, particularly simultaneously.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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