Big Sky Conference

GRIZ TRACKS: Offensive line shows signs, trick plays continue against Griz

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The Montana Grizzlies snapped a three-game losing streak by scoring a season-high 57 points against Southern Utah. Some notes from Andrew Houghton of Skyline Sports on Montana’s 57-14 victory:

LINE REVIVAL?

After ushering UC Davis linebacker Mason Moe to a national defensive Player of the Week award last week, Montana’s offensive line was greatly improved against Southern Utah. Redshirt freshman Skyler Martin started for the second straight week at left guard over junior Angel Villanueva. The stability may have contributed to a very solid performance.

Although Dalton Sneed did have to escape pressure at times, Montana gave up no sacks. senior tailback Jeremy Calhoun also had one of the best days of any Montana running back this season, carrying 16 times for 99 yards. Altogether, the Griz ran for 266 yards on 5.5 yards per carry. In a simple domino effect, just having the time to operate made all the elements of the Griz offense look better. Calhoun looked like the star he was a year ago, and the receivers were able to get open any time they wanted. It was an encouraging data point, but the line will have to maintain that level of play through the last two games.

KICKER PROBLEMS

Montana kicker Timmy Semenza (89) in 2017/by Brooks Nuanez

As the weather has gotten colder, junior kicker Tim Semenza has gotten more inconsistent for the Griz. In swirling winds at Cedar City, he missed an extra point and a 31-yard field goal, both in the first half. The misses allowed Southern Utah, which could have been down 34-14 at the break, to stay in touch, down just two possessions at 30-14. Semenza also made a 22-yard field goal, and the missed kicks ended up not mattering, but it should still be a point of concern for the Griz. Semenza started out the year 10-for-10 on field goals, but had missed his last two tries before the Southern Utah game. There was no relief coming from the bench, either — backup Adam Wilson missed an extra-point try in garbage time.

TRICKY

For the second week in row, Montana got bitten by a trick play. Last week it was a 56-yard wide receiver pass from Carson Crawford to Wesley Preece to get UC Davis moving early in the second half. This week’s wrinkle was similar, with Southern Utah wide receiver Ty Rutledge taking a pitch from the quarterback and throwing a 30-yard touchdown to tight end Logan Parker. The play brought the Thunderbirds back to 20-7, but Montana’s defense was better form then on. SUU also tried to put running back Jay Green in the Wildcat, but a snap went over his head, and he barely recovered to sling the ball away for an incompletion instead of a big loss.

ASSORTED NOTES

  • Sneed’s five touchdown passes were a season- and career-high for the transfer quarterback. His previous best was three against Cal Poly. 323 passing yards were also a career-best, and the first time he’s broken 300 in a game this season.

 

  • Calhoun’s 99 yards were the second-most by a Montana running back this season, behind Adam Eastwood’s 132 against Cal Poly, and third-most by any Griz player, behind that game and Sneed’s 206 vs. Sac State.

 

  • Dante Olson had just four total tackles, by far his least-impactful game of the season. It was only his second time in single digits, after he had eight against North Dakota.

 

  • True freshman Levi Janacaro, from Missoula’s Big Sky High School, got his first carries of the season in garbage time, running eight times for 29 yards. With only two games left in the season, he’ll still be able to use a redshirt this year, regardless of if he plays in the next two games or not.

 

  • Jerry Louie-McGee nearly broke two big punt returns, getting tackled by one of the last defenders on a 32-yarder and having a 90-plus yard touchdown called back for a hold.

About Andrew Houghton

Andrew Houghton grew up in Washington, DC. He graduated from the University of Montana journalism school in December 2015 and spent time working on the sports desk at the Daily Tribune News in Cartersville, Georgia, before moving back to Missoula and becoming a part of Skyline Sports in early 2018.

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