By ERIC TABER
UM Sports Information
They say good things come in threes, and for Montana junior linebacker Dante Olson, they sure do.
Olson was named ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season on Monday following one of the best tackling performances in UM and Big Sky Conference history at Cal Poly on Saturday.
With 24 total tackles (12 solo, 12 assisted), Olson was one tackle shy of tying the Montana school record, and is one of just four players in Big Sky history to account for 24 or more takedowns in a game.
Olson now the first defensive player since 2010 to earn three Big Sky Player of the Week awards in a single season, with the last three-peat coming from Eastern Washington linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt that year. Sherritt is the Big Sky’s single-season tackles record holder with 176 that year. Olson already has 79 tackles, putting on pace for 174 tackles this season with six games to play.
In Montana’s season opener against Northern Iowa, Olson earned Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career with 13 tackles, a sack, an interception, a quarterback hurry, and a pass breakup in a 26-23 win.
A week later, he repeated as Big Sky Player of the Week and was named STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week as well with 16 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup against Drake.
At Cal Poly, Olson racked up an eye-popping 24 tackles against the Mustangs potent triple-option attack, the most of any player in FCS football this year. Only one other player in all of college football – at any level – has had more total tackles in a game, with Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray picking up 28 against Army, which also runs the triple-option offense.
After five weeks of play, Montana has now won four Big Sky Player of the Week awards, with quarterback Dalton Sneed earning the Offensive honor following the game against Sacramento State.
Idaho State’s James Madison picked up Offensive Player of the Week and Roldan Alcobendas of Eastern Washington earned Special Teams Player of the Week.
Madison, a senior running back, had no problem adding yardage to his resume on Saturday when he rushed for a season-high 146 yards on 19 carries in Idaho State’s 56-42 win over Northern Arizona. Madison averaged 7.7 yards per carry as he made his way to the end-zone twice on scores from 51 and four yards out. He also caught one pass for 21 yards. Idaho State’s 315 rushing yards as a team, tied for the sixth most in a game since 2007. This is the first honor of the season for Madison.
Alcobendas converted field goals of 24 and 25 yards versus the Bobcats to remain perfect on the season at 5-for-5. He also converted four extra points, and punted four times for a 46.8 average with a long of 60 to help Eastern Washington to a 34-17 win over Montana State. Three of Alcobendas’ punts were downed inside the MSU 20-yard line, and the average field position for MSU after his punts was the 14-yard line. This is Alcobendas’ first honor of the season. He also moved into Eastern Washington’s all-time lead for career points by a kicker.
Other Nominees for ROOT SPORTS Offensive Player of the Week: Gage Gubrud, EWU; Isaiah Saunders, UI; Dalton Sneed, UM.
Other Nominees for ROOT SPORTS Defensive Player of the Week: Ketner Kupp, EWU; Jalen Hoover, UI; Christian Holland, ISU; Kasun Jackett, PSU;
Other Nominees for ROOT SPORTS Special Teams Player of the Week: Lloyd Hightower, UI; Tim Semenza, UM.