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

We’re down to the last two regular season games for the Griz and both are rivalry games. First up is the Idaho Vandals in the battle for the Little Brown Stein. Over the course of this rivalry Idaho had a wide lead in the series, 55-27-2. But Montana won the last 4 games in a row these teams met up, and 8 of the last 10. With the rivalry renewed both teams come into this game with their seasons not going the way they ideally hoped. I recall one Idaho player suggesting at the Big Sky media days that they didn’t just expect to win the Big Sky right away, but the national title. Fast forward to today and Idaho has won all 4 of their home games, but lost all 5 of their road games.

This is Idaho’s last home game and one that their team will presumably be pumped up for, their final game of the season they hit the road to play the Florida Gators.

Quick side-story, I grew up in the university area and was a cub scout & boy scout. Over the course of the years I would sell popcorn that had me canvassing the neighborhood. I would regularly hit the fraternity and sorority houses as that usually resulted in good sales. In either 1991 or 1992 I was given a gift from the ATO house, a t-shirt with a cartoon caricature of a kid in a grizzly helmet peeing on the state of Idaho, specifically on Moscow. I loved that damn shirt, my parents wouldn’t let me wear it to school either haha.

Idaho Vandals 4-5

13-79 loss @ Fresno State: Idaho had 7 turnovers (5 INTs and 2 fumbles) to none by Fresno. FSU ran for 240, passed for 250, and beat the crap out of Idaho, it was 44-6 at the half.

56-10 win vs Western New Mexico: Idaho presumably had to shake some cobwebs from the Fresno loss, it was 10-7 WNM halfway through the 2nd quarter and then Idaho rattled off the last 49 points. Idaho had a little over 400 total yards to WNM’s 300. With not so many yards, how did Idaho score so much? They blocked a fieldgoal and took it in for a TD and also had a punt return TD.

21-44 loss @ UC Davis: Idaho was down 44-7 going into the 4th and UCD allowed a few junk time TDs from there. Davis had a perfectly split stat sheet, 256 rushing and 256 passing, while Idaho I think made it’s first switch to having Mason Petrino start, he had about 275 passing himself.

20-7 win vs Portland State: Idaho had a 20-0 lead at the half and only let PSU have 4 total possessions in the 2nd half. Neither team had a lot of yards, Idaho had 290 while PSU had 260. Idaho was 6 of 16 on 3rd down but also 4 of 4 on 4th down, which helped them to keep some long drawn-out drives alive. Also one of Idaho’s TDs came off a blocked punt.

28-62 loss @ Idaho State: Idaho couldn’t keep up after an early ISU surge of 28 unanswered gave them a good lead. From there Idaho and ISU traded scores for a bit, Idaho got the game back to 41-28, but ISU scored the last 21 points of the game and totally shut down Idaho in the 4th quarter. Looking at Idaho’s 4th quarter they tossed a pick, had a turnover on downs, and punted. ISU had a monster day of stats, 518 passing and 236 rushing for a total of 754 yards of offense. Idaho had over 500 yards themselves but couldn’t keep up. The stat sheet shows Idaho had 6 fumbles, but only lost 1.

23-24 loss @ Montana State: I watched some of this game in the snowstorm, Idaho held a 17-7 lead halfway through the 3rd and watched MSU 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. MSU 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 MSU had about 320, as expected what beat Idaho was basically Troy Andersen. Idaho actually held the ball for 37:30, were 9-18 on 3rd and held MSU to 4 of 12 on 3rd.

31-12 win vs Southern Utah: Idaho was up 31-0 and let Southern Utah get a few 4th quarter scores. Southern Utah ran for 402 yards, but as I posted in their scouting report last week had 4 total turnovers, one was after a really long run too. SUU’s turnovers were killer, they also had two turnovers on downs and missed a fieldgoal.

14-38 loss @ Eastern Washington: EWU was up 31-0 at the half, of their 550 total yards, 375 of it was by way of passing. Idaho couldn’t get much going, 200 passing and 160 rushing.

31-27 win vs North Dakota: Idaho’s one upset win of the season, it was an interesting box score from a game where I thought UND would win big. Idaho went up 7-0, UND tied it, Idaho went back up 14-7, UND tied it again at 14-14, which was the halftime score. In the 2nd half UND scored in the 3rd but missed the PAT to go up 20-14. Come the 4th Idaho would kick a fieldgoal to make it 20-17, but UND answered right back with a TD going up 27-17. But Idaho wasn’t done. With about 8:00 left in the game Idaho would block a punt and take it in for a TD (2nd time this season they’ve done that). Then a few possessions later Idaho would drive 57 yards for the go-ahead TD with just 27 seconds left in the game. UND’s final possession basically went backwards. In the game Idaho lost 2 fumbles while UND tossed 1 pick. Neither team had a ton of yards, 378 for Idaho and 335 for UND.

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General Stats

Passing yards per game Montana (267 for UM vs 221 for Idaho)
Rushing yards per game Montana (168 rush ypg for UM vs 154 rush ypg for Idaho)
Total offense Montana (436 for the Griz vs 375 for Idaho)
Passing yards allowed per game Idaho (226 ypg allowed by UI vs 239 ypg allowed for UM)
Rushing yards allowed per game Montana (177 ypg allowed by UM vs 217 ypg allowed by UI)
Total defense Montana (416 ypg allowed by UM vs 443 ypg allowed by Idaho)

1 for Idaho and 5 for Montana

Offense points scored Montana (33.6 vs 26.3)
Defense points allowed Montana (28.7 vs 33.7)
Turnover margin Montana – Griz are -2 while Idaho is -11
Fieldgoal % Montana – 79% for Montana, 71% for Idaho
Punt Returns Idaho (19.3 YPR vs 10.1 YPR)
Kick Returns Montana (24.9 for UM vs 18.9 for Idaho)
T.O.P. Idaho (30:36 for Idaho vs 27:57 for UM)
Red Zone defense (touchdowns) Montana (UM 67% / Idaho 71% )
Red Zone offense (touchdowns) Idaho (66% IDAHO / 59% UM)
3rd down offense PUSH (40% for both)
3rd down defense Montana (UM 39% / IDAHO 41%)

Idaho adds 3, Montana adds 7 and 1 push. That puts the total at 12 for Montana, 4 for Idaho, and 1 Push.

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Players to Watch:

#21 Isaiah Saunders, RB: Saunders is a load of an RB, he’s 5-10, 234. For the season he’s got 755 yards (about 84 per game) and 6 TDs. Just 53 receiving yards on the season.

#8 Mason Petrino, QB: Listed as a “WR/QB” on the roster he’s mostly taken over for their other QB (who is a big dude at 255 pounds!) and is a guy that I’ve liked to watch. He’s not a deep threat, per se, but a magician at times (ROOT sports compared him to Brett Favre in terms of ability to just make stuff up under pressure). He’s passing for about 175 per game, but that’s a little skewed because that’s spread over games he did some junk time in. He’s got 12 TDs to 5 INTs, also has 158 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs which is 2nd best on the team.

#2 David Ungerer, WR: Statistically he’s their JLM. This 5-10, 171 pound WR leads the team in receptions by a big margin and has 580 receiving yards and 3 TDs. He’s also a big threat in the return game, he averages 16.1 yards per return (on 11 returns) and has 1 touchdown doing so, also he averages about 19 yards per kick return.

#88 Jeff Cotton, WR: A 6-2, 204 pound WR Cotton has 19 less catches than Ungerer, but only 27 less yards on the season. And he’s got 6 receiving TDs. He’s also returned a few kicks, a 17.6 yard per return average.

#7 Cuttrell Haywood, WR: The 3rd option in the pass game. Haywood is 6-0, 203, he’s got 392 yards and 5 TDs this season.

#3 Kaden Elliss, LB: A first team preseason all-conference pick, he was 2nd team Sun Belt last year. He’s got 44 tackles and a team best 10 TFLs and 5 sacks. Their version of Josh Buss or UCD’s Mason Moe.

#1 Chistian Elliss, LB: Kaden’s younger brother (their dad is the D-line coach). He’s the leading tackler on the team with 63 tackles, 4 TFLs, and 1 forced fumble.

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Keys to a Grizzly victory

1. I wont post it five times but the main thing remains, don’t turn the damn ball over. The Griz showed that when the win they protect the ball and force turnovers. When they lose, they turn it over a ton.

2. Protect Sneed, or build a plan where he won’t be pressured too much. Telling this OL group to simply protect Sneed just isn’t going to get it done. More roll-outs, and more plays where he can easily escape pressure will help.

3. 100+ yards for Calhoun. This guy is our best back and the offense is multi-dimensional when he’s doing his thing. 15-20 touches, 100+ yards and 2 TDs please.

4. Don’t let Petrino run wild. This guy has a habit to turn nothing into something. I don’t know if he’s a deep threat, but I saw him stretch out sure fire 3rd down stops into conversions with his feet. He’s going to ad-lib a bunch too. Can’t let him burn us with that.

5. No blocked punts or kicks. One thing Idaho does really well is block kicks it would seem. Per my checking on their games not only have they blocked some kicks, but they’ve taken at least 3 back for scores. This will be a showdown of coaching skill. Some of the punting/kicking lapses from the SUU game could haunt the Griz if they’re not careful.

6. Expect the unexpected. This is truly the last game that Idaho is going to really expect to win. While their players (and ours) have little idea of the prior passion in this rivalry, I expect Idaho to come out with an edge. The Griz could have a real strong force hitting them early. Got to weather that storm early

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Idaho is undefeated at home and has scored 31 twice in a row in the Kibbie dome. Honestly I think the first team at/over 35 will win this. While the Griz looked good last weak it’s tough to tell if that’s because SUU just sucked or if the Griz started to find some stride (probably a mix of both). Will a young Griz team come in confident and then get shell shocked? Will they be overlooking Idaho a bit with the cat game next on the schedule? All signs suggest Idaho could start the game with the mental edge. I think the Griz are going to have an early battle and we’ll know well before halftime if they’ve got this game, or if it could be another rough road loss.

I’m the eternal optimist, you guys know that. I think the SUU win was a sign of more good things to come. While it’ll be tough at first I expect this to look more like a vintage Bobby win as we pull away as Idaho’s emotional side cools down and the Grizzly execution continues. I’ll say 38-28 Griz win.

GO GRIZ!

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