It’s time for your weekly scouting report brought to you by BWahlberg on the eGriz forums!
The Griz are off on the first of a two-week road game stretch against the currently 1-8 Southern Utah Thunderbirds. SUU was actually picked to finish ahead of the Griz in the Big Sky this year but a rash of injuries, especially at QB and other skill positions, have really derailed what was once expected to be a strong season.
While SUU’s overall record isn’t too awe-inspiring at all, they have played a good portion of their games on the road. In their 3 home games they’re 1-2 and outscoring opponents on average by 39-35.
Southen Utah Thunderbirds, 1-8
30-34 loss vs North Alabama – This game was quite the shootout with 9 total lead changes with North Alabama taking the final lead with just 12 seconds left in the game on what appeared to be a crazy final drive where SUU allowed two first downs on penalties, then picked off a pass to have it negated by pass interference, then picked off ANOTHER to have it also negated by roughing the passer, which gave way to a TD pass on the next play. Both teams ran for a little over 200, SUU passed for about 315 and UNA passed for 350.
25-48 loss at Oregon State – SUU was down 0-38 before they started putting points on the board. OSU had about 340 passing but gave up a combined amount of about 650 yards.
31-62 loss at Arizona – It was a tight game the first half with Arizona up 24-17. From there though Arizona scored 24 unanswered and stretched out the game. Another game in a row where the opposing team put up closer to 650 yards on SUU.
23-31 loss at NAU – A Cookus-less NAU had a battle with SUU through the whole game. SUU only lead the game once, and had their extra point blocked. NAU scored the last 14 points of the game to win it. SUU tossed 3 picks in the game that really hurt them, while NAU ran for 200 and passed for 350.
17-55 loss at EWU – SUU once again faced a top team from the Big Sky without it’s main QB, but EWU still kicked the crap out of them, EWU ran for 380 and passed for another 270 in the game. It was 34-10 at the half and the eventual final score of the game was decided by the 3rd quarter, no one scored in the 4th.
48-27 win vs Sac St – SUU’s lone win of the season so far… and it opened terribly for them. Sac scored 21 points to SUU’s 7 in the first quarter, but in the 2nd quarter SUU answered with 20 scored points of their own to just 3 points allowed to set the halftime score at 27-24 SUU. Sac would only add 3 more points in the game while SUU added 3 more TDs. SUU’s ability to run the ball once holding a lead limited Sac’s ability to stay in the game, Sac’s 2nd half possessions went, punt, punt, lost fumble, field goal, punt, turnover on downs.
12-31 loss @ Idaho – It was actually 31-0 Idaho into the 4th quarter before SUU got on the board. SUU had 402 yards of rushing… and lost! They tossed 2 picks and lost 2 fumbles, one on the end of an 81 yards run (ouch).
39-42 loss vs UNC – The score suggests it was close, but… UNC held a good lead for many points of the game, up 17-8, 35-11, and finally 42-18 with just about 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. SUU rattled off the final 21 points to make it close at the end, their final TD came with 45 seconds left in the game. They did hold UNC to a 3 and out, got the ball back with 21 seconds to go on their own 15 yard line but threw a pick to end it. UNC had about 290 on the ground in this game but the maybe more interesting story is SUU, on their 3rd (or possibly 4th) string QB put up 341 passing yards.
Passing yards per game Montana (255 for UM vs 252 for SUU)
Rushing yards per game SUU (155 rush ypg for UM vs 211 rush ypg for SUU)
Total offense SUU (410 for the Griz vs 463 for SUU)
Passing yards allowed per game Montana (277 ypg allowed by SUU vs 248 ypg allowed for UM)
Rushing yards allowed per game Montana (190 ypg allowed by UM vs 269 ypg allowed by SUU)
Total defense Montana (438 ypg allowed by UM vs 546 ypg allowed by SUU)
2 for SUU, 4 for Montana but one’s close to a push (passing yards)
Offense points scored Montana (30.6 vs 28.1)
Defense points allowed Montana (30.5 vs 41.2)
Turnover margin SUU – Griz are -4 while SUU is -3
Fieldgoal % Montana – 83% for Montana, 58% for SUU
Punt Returns SUU (10.6 YPR vs 9.2 YPR)
Kick Returns Montana (24.5 for UM vs 21.8 for SUU)
T.O.P. SUU (31:44 for SUU vs 27:04 for UM)
Red Zone defense (touchdowns) SUU (UM 66% / SUU 56% )
Red Zone offense (touchdowns) SUU (64% SUU / 55% UM)
3rd down offense SUU (35% for UM / 42% for SUU)
3rd down defense Montana (UM 41% / SUU 48%)
SUU picks up 6, Montana adds 5. Final is 9 for UM, 8 for SUU… but if you argue the passing yards from higher up are a push it would be 8-8-1 and in elections season we can call this a TOSS UP within the margin of error.
Players to Watch:
#21 Jay Green, RB – SUU is more of a running attack team with a handful of backs to watch. Green is the only mainstay that hasn’t missed time (it would seem) to injury. He’s 5-10, 193 pounds, has almost 700 yards and 5 TDs rushing this season and about 100 yards receiving and 1 TD.
#4 Austin Ewing, RB – This guy is listed as a QB but has seen a bulk of time as an RB of sorts, he’s averaging about 50 yards per game rushing and has 3 rushing TDs this season.
#6 Tyler Skidmore, QB – Skidmore I assume is the QB over Zwhalen based on his start and production last week. I think he’s a walk-on freshman, 6-2, 210. Had 330 passing, 1 TD and 1 late INT last week.
#5 Landon Measem, WR – I believe got some freshman recognition last season, the main target in the passing game. 525 yards and 1 TD this season for this 5-10, 185 WR.
#13 Ty Rutledge, WR – The taller “possession” option, he’s 6-2 and 2nd in most stats on the SUU roster, he’s got almost 400 yards this season. He does have 2 receiving TDs.
#80 Judd Crockett, WR – While I don’t know if we’ll see much of him in the passing game, watch this kid in the return game. One of the better ones in the Big Sky. He’s got a punt average better than JLM at over 11 yards per return and a kick average of 26.2 with 1 KR touchdown already.
#35 Chinedu Ahanonu, LB – At 5-11, 216 pounds he leads the team in tackles with 65 and has the most TFLs as well with 8.5, and has 2 sacks to go with it.
#94 Taylor Nelson, LB – Nelson is 2nd on the team in tackles with 48, he’s got 7 TFLs but no sacks of record. He seems to have a knack for finding the ball, 4 fumble recoveries this season.
#36 Taelin Webb, CB – His 30 tackles is 4th best on the team, leads the team in pass breakups with 9.
#33 AJ Stanley, S – Stanley has one of the two total team forced interceptions as well as 2 forced fumbles. He’s 3rd best on the team in tackles with 46, he’s got 1 sack as well.
Keys to a Grizzly victory
1. Don’t turn it over
2. Don’t turn it over
3. Give Sneed a few seconds to actually run a play
4. Don’t turn it over
5. Slowdown/stop SUU’s run game. They’re actually the very best in the conference when it comes to converting 3rd downs and piling up gained 1st downs per game. Obviously that’s not translated to wins though.
6. Prepare for trickery. SUU runs a lot of looks out of their offense. I assume Skidmore will be their QB but if somehow Helbig returns they could be a far more dynamic offense.
7. 40+ points, going to need a lot on the board, SUU can score quite a bit, they’ve got a veteran and skilled OL.
8. Don’t turn it over
9. Keep your edge as the game carries on. The Griz have had leads into the 4th quarter in 3 of their 4 losses. This is where this team has to improve the most from a total-game picture, have that killer instinct and style of play late into the game.
10. Stay in your lanes and contain their kick returner. This is the first of two weeks in a row where the Griz ST coverage units are really going to be tested. Can’t give a flip in momentum right after a Griz TD.
11. 175+ rushing. Not sure with who or how, but get those yards on the ground. SUU’s rush defense isn’t great, exploit it.
12. HANG ON TO THE $&#! BALL
13. 5+ touches for Sulser, don’t care how you do it, just do it.
I think this one’s going to be tight. Tough loss for the Griz last week while SUU is at home where they seem to play a little better. This is going to be a test to see if the Griz can rebound from a brutal stretch of losses we’ve not seen in a long damn time. The SUU defense statistically suggests the taking should be there, but the Griz need to grasp it. I’ll say that in a tense/tough/nailbiting fashion the Griz escape SUU with a win, but it ain’t gonna be pretty, 45-35.