It’s time for your weekly scouting report brought to you by BWahlberg on the eGriz forums!

It’s cat week. Both teams are 6-5. The cats have a marginally good shot to get in the playoffs with a win, the Griz need a little more help but have a small shot. Hauck vs Choate chapter 1. Let’s do this

Bozeman State Bobcats

26-23 win vs Western Illinois: WIU just couldn’t separate. Holding a 13-6 lead to give it up to a tie, a 20-13 lead to give way to another tie, and a 23-20 lead to not only see the cats tie it up but then take the lead and win. Neither team had much to show for offense (317 for WIU and 239 for the Cats). As the cats would see all season, their win was largely on the feet of Troy Andersen.

14-45 loss @ South Dakota State: An expected outcome, SDSU was up 31-0 before the cats got on the board. With Rovig at QB the cats ran for just 29 yards and passed for 193, while SDSU passed for almost 320 and ran for almost 200.

47-24 win vs Wagner: Wagner hung around for a bit, it was 23-21 Cats halfway through the 2nd quarter, but from there the cats pulled away. With Rovig at QB the cats passed for 310 and had a stable of backs rush for almost 250.

43-23 win @ Portland State: Outside of an early 3-0 score PSU never lead in the game. With Troy Andersen back at QB the cats ran for 323 yards and passed for a little over 100. PSU’s defense just couldn’t stop the cat offense, which scored points on 7 consecutive possessions.

17-34 loss vs Eastern Washington: The first quarter suggested this might be a game with EWU up 14-10 after each team traded scores a few times. However over the course of the whole 2nd & 3rd quarters and into the 4th the cats couldn’t get any points scored and EWU scored 20 unanswered. Over those times Bozeman had 4 punts, an interception lost, a turnover on downs, and a missed fieldgoal. EWU passed for 310 and ran for almost 180 in the game. Meanwhile the cat offense was kind of controlled, Andersen only had 94 rushing yards (I think his only game under 100 when playing offense) but did have 156 passing but 2 picks with it.

23-24 win vs Idaho: I watched some of this game in the snowstorm, Idaho held a 17-7 lead halfway through the 3rd and watched the cats rally to take the lead on a 60 yard Troy Andersen run. Idaho scored with 3:07 left but missed the extra point, it looked like the ball went right over the top of the upright. The cats got the ball back and Idaho couldn’t stop them and they ran out the clock. Idaho had a balanced 350 yards of offense, while the cats had about 320, as expected what won the game was basically Troy Andersen. Idaho actually held the ball for 37:30, were 9-18 on 3rd and held the cats to 4 of 12 on 3rd.

24-34 loss @ Weber State: The cats held a 10-0 and 17-7 lead through the first half at various points but the Weber defense gradually locked down and their offense was able to do enough to pull away and secure the win. What really put Weber in a hole was 3 lost interceptions, which gave the cats really short field a few times. The cats had just 168 rushing and 53 passing in the game. Meanwhile Weber was almost perfectly balanced, 187 rushing and 186 passing.

17-24 loss @ Idaho State: After the cats opened up a 7-0 lead ISU rattled off all 24 of their points scored before the cats would score again. In the 4th quarter the cats got close, making it 24-14 early in the 4th and then 24-17 with 8:24 left in the game. From there ISU would milk the clock a bit but had to punt it away to the cats with 5:30 left in the game. From there the cats got to the ISU 16 but a costly holding penalty forced them to stop running the ball, forcing Andersen to pass didn’t work, and the cats wound up turning the ball over on downs and ISU was able to kneel out the clock. Idaho State was slightly outgained in the game, the cats had better rushing yards while ISU had more passing yards. Of ISU’s 24 points 14 came on short field scenarios where they stopped a Bozeman 4th down attempt once at midfield and another time grabbed an interception.

49-42 win vs Cal Poly: While the score suggested it was close, the cats outscored CPSLO 14-7 in each of the first 3rd quarters to hold a 42-21 lead. In the 4th CPSLO rattled off a few unanswered scores, the last came with 6 seconds left in the game. As you’d expect in this game, it was all rushing yards. CPSLO had 370 while the cats had 430.

35-7 win vs Northern Colorado: 4 costly turnovers sunk any chance UNC thought they might have had. Both teams had a close amount of yards, about 300 for UNC and 330 for the cats. Just 46 passing for the cats as the ground game was working all day.

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General Stats

Passing yards per game Montana (263.5 for UM vs 137 for Bozeman State)
Rushing yards per game Bozeman State (171 rush ypg for UM vs 227 rush ypg for the cats)
Total offense Montana (435 for the Griz vs 364 for Bozeman State)
Passing yards allowed per game Bozeman State (202 ypg allowed by the cats vs 249 ypg allowed for UM)
Rushing yards allowed per game Montana (174 ypg allowed by UM vs 197 ypg allowed by the cats)
Total defense Bozeman State (422 ypg allowed by UM vs 399 ypg allowed by Bozeman State)

Bozeman state picks up 3 and Montana picks up 3.

Offense points scored Montana (34.8 vs 29.6)
Defense points allowed Bozeman (28.5 vs 27.9)
Turnover margin Bozeman – Griz are -1 while Bozeman State is +5
Fieldgoal % Montana – 80% for Montana, 73% for Bozeman State
Punt Returns Bozeman State (11.9 YPR vs 10 YPR for the Griz)
Kick Returns Montana (24.3 for UM vs 24.1 for Bozeman State)
T.O.P. Montana (27:23 for Bozeman State vs 28:01 for UM)
Red Zone defense (touchdowns) Montana (UM 67% / Bozeman State 74% )
Red Zone offense (touchdowns) Bozeman State (64% Bozeman / 61% UM)
3rd down offense Montana (40% for Montana / 33% for Bozeman)
3rd down defense Montana (UM 39% / Bozeman 42%)

Bozeman State adds 4 while Montana adds 7. That puts the final of Montana 10 and Bozeman State 7.

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Players to Watch:

#15 Troy Andersen, QB: Andersen is 6-3 and 215 pounds and he is (in my opinion) a strong candidate for MVP on offense in the Big Sky considering what he’s done to get his team to where it’s at. A running back and linebacker last year, he converted to play QB (but also played some RB and LB this year) and leads the Big Sky in rushing TDs with 16. He’s 4th best in the Big Sky in rushing, averaging 109 yards per game. Andersen’s passing for about 75 yards per game and has 2 passing TDs to 6 INTs. To put the season in perspective for Andersen, he’s about 50 yards short of out-rushing what Chris Murray did last season and already has 6 more rushing TDs that Chris did in all of the last season.

#22 Isaiah Ifanse, RB: This freshman RB could be a front-runner for freshman of the year. He’s got 780 yards (78 ypg) on the ground this season and 7 rushing TDs. He’s also got about 100 yards receiving and 1 receiving TD.

#85 Kevin Kassis, WR: A 6 foot tall WR, Kevin leads the WR corps in a season where passing comes at a premium. He’s got 481 yards this season and 3 TDs through the air. I see he’s got a few rushing yards too. He’s also their main PR/KR and has a better average than JLM at almost 12 yards per return on punts and almost 24 yards per kickoff return.

#10 Travis Jonsen, QB/RB: Jonsen is a QB that it seems gets some use in the RZ a lot. He’s got just 172 rushing yards but 4 TDs this season. He’s 4-5 passing on the season with 1 TD, so presumably should expect some trick plays designed for him.

#92 Tucker Yates, DT: At 6-0 and 290 Yates had some post-season recognition last year that carried forward to this season. The cat D-line is loaded with talent and he’s no exception. Just 38 tackles but 7.5 TFLs, a team best 4 QB hits, and 1 fumble recovery.

#37 Bryce Sterk, DE/OLB: A tall 6-5 D-end Sterk has 51 tackles this season. To go with that he’s got 14 TFLs and a team best 6.5 sacks.

#57 Tyrone Fa’anono, DE: At 6-2, 270 Tyrone is 3rd best on the team in tackles with 52, he’s got 1 INT, 5.5 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks.

#18 Brayden Kokol, LB: The team leader in tackles with 71. He’s got 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 INT, and has recovered two fumbles.

#5 Jahque Alleyne, S: This dude seems to be around pass plays a lot, he’s got a team best 5 interceptions, without checking I’d venture that’s a Big Sky best as well.
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Keys to a Grizzly victory

1. Its so incredibly simple for the Griz this season, don’t turn it over or if you do, win the turnover battle. The last two rebound wins for Montana have come without turnovers, their 3 game skid was riddled with them. Ball security seems to be the easiest thing to bring up for this Griz team. This game will be hard hitting and full of energy, can a young Griz team avoid mistakes and keep playing the way they have? Or will they tighten up and make errors? If the Griz give up more turnovers than forced, this will be a long day.

2. Find some way to neutralize that cat D-line. This is, by far, the best defensive line the Griz have faced. It’s loaded with talent and this defense is able to do quite a bit with it’s 7 other guys knowing that it’s D-line can get after the QB and stuff the run as needed. The cats have to love this advantage they have, their best guys on defense against our worst on offense. The Grizzly offense will have to account and plan for this… somehow.

3. Win in the redzone. While the cat defense is pretty good as expected, they’re giving up TDs in just about 3 of every 4 trips. For the Griz to put this game on ice they need to keep that going. Fieldgoals in the RZ won’t cut it.

4. Contain Andersen. This guy is their offense. I’ve watched a few cat games (as most of us have) and he has another level once out in space that no team can stop. It seems to me that generally once he gets around the edge, it’s big trouble, and many teams seems to crash inside and push him that way… with not a lot of luck. Andersen can pass too, but that’s not really his game. For this weekend I clearly expect some emphasis to give him shots to test our iffy secondary… but where he beats teams is running the ball. I don’t think the Griz (or anyone) can stop him… but hopefully not let him beat us up too bad.

5. Expect the unexpected. The cats have Matt Miller at OC now for the 3rd week in a row and their offense has been a little more diverse and better run. Last week they tossed a trick pass to an eligible O-lineman near the endzone, and they’ve worked better to spread the ball out. The Griz have a little less film and tougher expectations on what/how Miller will approach the game and that could pose a problem. Also I’d expect some stuff from Jonsen that isn’t just running the ball either.

6. Pedal to the metal. Odds suggest It’s most likely the last game of the season, unless if the Griz have a lead like they built up last week, don’t take anything as a given. Fight to the end and play like it’s always a tie game.

7. Get the ball to our best guys. Sneed in space, JLM with 8+ touches, Sulser with end-arounds, deep/jump passes to Akem. Make the cats respect the run game from backs and the QB, and take away their ability to sit on short routes with some added in deep shots.

8. 1/11th. This is always an emotionally hyped game and the younger Griz need to avoid mental errors that lead to giving up points. I could see in spots, especially on ST, where young guys could lose their lanes/assignments out of the attempts to make a big hit or play, just to find themselves suddenly out of position and getting burned.

9. Better halftime adjustments. The point differential in the 2nd half is staggering. The cats are out-scoring their opponents 144-115 in the 2nd half of this season while the Griz are being outscored by 152-160 (thanks UCD).
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This is it Griz Nation and I’m hopeful the Griz won’t let the cats string this to a 3 game winning streak. Both teams are rolling in with some great confidence and this really strikes me as one of the more evenly matched games we’ve seen in a bit. Interestingly enough each teams strength matches the others. The Griz are better at stopping the run, while that’s mostly what the cats do on offense. The cats don’t pass much or very efficiently, and that’s the Grizzlies biggest area of weakness on defense. Both teams are pretty similar on ST (as one would expect). The one difference I do see is that this Grizzly offense is one that can beat a team on the ground and in the air, where the cat offense can get some yards passing, but their bread and butter is running the ball. At home, and with this advantage, this should tip the Grizzlies way. What I worry about is if the Griz can’t keep Andersen and Ifanse from burning them up, because if they don’t do that, they’re toast.

I think this game will be tight for a while, maybe a long Andersen rushing TD early on, or a long Sneed rush. We could be looking at a 10-7 type of halftime score or so. Who will make the better adjustments then? Stats suggest the cats, hopefully that’s not the case for the Griz who hopefully at home will be able to keep riding the wave of their last two games and can keep kicking ass.

I’ll go with a final score of 24-21 Griz in a hard-fought slugfest of a game that promises the years ahead of Choate vs Hauck will continue to be wildly entertaining.

GO GRIZ!
FTC!

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