It’s that time of year again, folks. Time to put away your favorite boats, wave runners, fishing poles, and get your livers in shape because it’s football season at the base of Mount Sentinel. Seems like just yesterday we were … oh God, no, it seems like years ago we were watching the Griz march off the field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium licking their wounds after a loss to the state college on the Eastern side of I-90. Much has happened since we last saw the Griz…
The biggest news from the offseason is the return of quarterback Jordan Johnson. Johnson was off the team for the 2012 season stemming from a sexual assault charge in February of 2012. The case was finally resolved this spring with Johnson being acquitted of the charge and was reinstated back to the Griz football team. The return of Johnson means a serious upgrade at quarterback, which was a very sore spot with the 2012 version of the Griz. Young players thrown into the fire of division 1 football was bad news in most games last season.
The Griz coaching staff also underwent some changes with offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach leaving the team to take a job at fellow Big Sky Conference school Weber State, and then promptly packed his bags to join former Griz coach Bobby Hauck at UNLV. A bizarre move to head to a school with a coaching staff on the hot seat. Rosenbach was replaced at Weber State by most recent former Griz head coach Robin Pflugrad. New offensive coordinator Kefense Hynson will take the reins this season alongside Scott Gragg to turn this Montana offense into more of a pro-style offense, a switch from the zone read applied by Pflugrad. Hynson was an offensive coordinator at Western Washington before they folded their football program. His offense averaged 404 yards per game and scored 30 points per game average. Not too shabby.
The last time these two terrific teams met was not a pleasant trip for the Grizzlies. Starting a redshirt freshman quarterback against one of the top FCS teams doesn’t usually prove to be successful and last year it wasn’t. The Mountaineers ran out to a quick 21-7 lead but Montana battled back to even it up at the half. The two teams slugged it out in the 2nd half, but ultimately, Appalachian State punching in a late touchdown doomed the Griz. This year the bear is hungry for some moonshine soaked mountaineers from the East coast.
If anyone remembers the 2009 FCS playoffs you probably watched the Griz and Mountaineers battle in a blizzard on ESPN2 in a classic game, one that both fan bases and many FCS fans will remember for a very long time. The winner of the game moved on to the national championship, the loser joined Montana State College in a puddle of tears. An incomplete pass from Armanti Edwards to Brian Quick sealed the deal for the Griz. Also, this happened:
That’s right, Mountaineers. When you come to Missoula we hit you in the face… hard. Though, in today’s college football that hit would be flagged 15 yards and Keith Thompson would probably be ejected for targeting or something.
After last year’s Appalachian State game my tailgating buds from Lot P (team eGriz.com and ChampionshipSubdivision.com!) brought home some fantastic moonshine from back East. At first I didn’t think moonshine was a big deal. Two swigs later from my buddy Mike’s ceramic pig (no, seriously, the moonshine was in a ceramic pig), I was lying face down in the parking lot wondering what the heck just happened. I’m just kidding. It was the cup of Jagermeister and Red Bull that finally did me in. After sampling some different flavors of moonshine I’m led to believe these mountain folk from our football twin from the East are pretty good people. I’m looking forward to hanging out and tailgating with a few folks this weekend, time to return the hospitality they showed our crew last year. I just hope Tickle and Jim Tom don’t show up, or we’re all in trouble.
I’m excited for this game. It’s going to be another terrific bout between these two FCS heavyweights. I’m sad at the same time that this is likely the last time these two teams will play for quite some time. Appalachian State has made the decision to move up to FBS and into the Sun Belt Conference. Unless Montana all of a sudden decides to make a similar move it’ll be a while before we get to welcome this terrific team and fan base to Washington-Grizzly. Let’s make the most out of this historic meeting and have a great time and celebrate two of the best teams in FCS history. Go Griz! Beat the Mountaineers!