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The Mighty Bison vs The Holy Griz


Well-known member
First of all, is this a series or a one time road game for the Bison? At one point Montana had a home and home series with Cal Poly, a team with far less revenue producing ability than NDSU. Montana's distruction of average to good D2 teams has been well chronicled but I don't think they have faced a D2 team that has the potential of NDSU.

After watching Montana twice on television last season, I am curious about your expectation for the following season. Sac State has always played you guys tough and lost close games (legally or otherwise) and I have watched UC Davis demolish the Hornettes for the better part of the last ten years.

I was never overly impressed with your QB's ability to throw the ball down the field. He may have been a tough competitor but I don't think he could throw the ball like past Griz qb's (the last guy I saw in person was the QB when Molden was at receiver I think his name was Drew something).

I have a question for you Griz fans about Montana State. They seemed to have an up and down season losing to a very good D2 team but then rallying for a playoff spot. Davis smoked that very same D2 team in week 1 of the D2 playoffs. Was your game with the 'cats a fluke or were they really that good? Obviously next year you guys are hoping to get deep into the playoffs once again and the qb situation sounds to be improved. You should be able to overwhelm the Bison who are coming into the year with new coaches. BUT, this isn't the same type of D2 team you are used to playing. Unlike any Bison team of the last 15 years, they have taken a non-conference road trip. They also have superior size and athleticism relative to Western Washingtong, UNC, or the Davis team you played in '96. In two years I think NDSU will be good enough to be very competitive with I-AA playoff caliber teams.
To answer some of your questions:

I'm not sure if this is a home-and-home series. Haven't heard one way or another.

Expectations for 2003: Even with a brand-new coaching staff, expectations in Missoula are probably as high as they have ever been, and we've won two titles in the last 8 years, so that should give you some indication. The Griz have 19 starters back, including the entire starting offensive and defensive lines, as well as the addition of two potential D-line All-Americans, who return from prior season-ending injuries. Although the Griz are replacing one of Montana's most successful QBs ever in terms of win-loss records (John Edwards), you are correct that he was not the best at throwing the long ball. This year's QBs, from all accounts, will be better: Craig Ochs, former starter for Colorado and a top 12 I-A QB, and Jeff Disney, one of the most highly regarded QBs out of the California JC ranks a couple of years ago. Both can both throw and run, a departure from our last two QBs--Drew Miller was arguably Montana's best pure passer ever (and a first-team All-American in the process), but he had zero wheels, while John Edwards had very good wheels and only an average arm.

If UM has a weakness this year, it may be in the defensive secondary, where RS freshmen will have to step up to replace a two year starter and an All-American Buck Buchanon award candidate.

Linebacker and running back, although sporting a few new faces, should be good, the receivers are talented and numerous, special teams really are (with at least two guys who are threats to take it all the way to the house on any return and a kicker who has hit from 57 yards) and both lines will be destroyers. Expect the Griz to go back to what made them famous: Lots of multiple-receiver sets, with, as Coach Hauck has already said, "the Montana scoreboard spinning like a one-armed bandit" (or something to that effect).

When the Griz played MSU last year, it was just time for the 16-year winning streak to be broken: UM had previously suffered several year- and career-ending injuries, it was in a freaky snowstorm, Edwards was injured and never found his rhythm (1-19 at one point) and the coaches inexplicably wouldn't take him out, and the Griz flat weren't emotionally in it, for whatever reason(s).

Expect the new coaching staff to put the fire back in Griz bellies this year. People near the program are reporting that a new sense of discipline and purpose are readily apparent in the team during Spring ball.

On top of all that, there will be around 4,000 more Griz fanatics exhorting the Griz on in what is already the loudest stadium in I-AA.

Does that answer any questions? The short answer: We (both the Griz and their fans) expect to go all the way in 2003. Period. If I'm the first one here to have voiced that opinion, so be it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that.
I am glad we (NDSU) are playing the best to begin our I-AA stint. It will tell us where we need to be to get there as well. I think you guys (Montana) will most likely win but don't be surprised if we put up a good game. We too have a new coach, new quarterback, and possibly a new running back from what we are hearing from the spring practices. Our new coach came from the Nebraska system (Craig Bohl) and was fired last year so I think he will have something to prove as well. Our new quarterback is a transfer from the Big 10 Northwestern (Tony Stauss). He started three games last year at Northwestern but the coaching there decieded to go with a more running quarterback instead of the drop back style like he is. We also have some speed at the wide receiver spot in a transfer from Division II, Nebraska-Kearney (Alan Burrell) and returning WR (Marquis Johnson). Our offensive line has produced NFL caliber talent in the past and from looking at the line now, they have similar sizes. Many of our offensive lineman our around 300 lb and 6'3" or taller.

On the defensive side, there are many returning starters but some new faces that could impact the team. Our defensive scheme is changing from a 3-4 to a 4-3 def. line to linebacker system. From what I have heard this defense is going to take more chances and blitz a lot. Past teams tended to play more of a base set and hold their ground.

There is a lot of optimism in Fargo and through Bison fans with seeing what we have seen this spring. The big thing for us is that we need these star players to stay healthy. Last year, we had so many injuries that I think at one time we had half the starting line-up made up of freshman or sophomores that hadn't started before. Much of our 2-8 season last year can be attributed to that and that our old coaching staff ran a rather vanilla offense and defense. There tended to be very little that surprised the opposing team.

As for Montana playing 2004 in Fargo, this is what I had heard. I thought that the series was a home-home. Expect Fargo to be rocking when Montana comes to town as I expect Missoula to be rocking this year.
To give ourside of the story :wink: , I think that the Bobcats and Grizzlies were pretty darn equal by the end of the season last year. In the Cat/Griz game, our defense completely dominated their offense, while we just managed to put up enough points to win the game. We only allowed the Griz 199 total yards of offense, their lowest total in like 13 years. Some may blame it on the snow storm, but the Griz have put up 70 points in snowstorms past, and we all had to play on the same field. The thing that was most evident was that we just seemed to want it more. Anyway you look at it... THANK GOD we finally got that stupid monkey off our backs!!! To qualify my statement that I thought our teams looked pretty equal by the end of last season, we both played McNeese (the #1 seed) pretty closely, and both teams had a very legit shot to win against them. Our season was kind of divided into two portions, the second half being far better after we switched QBs and started a true freshman who doesn't seem to lose very often.

Both the Bobcats and the Griz have a lot to look forward to this season. We both return a ton of starters, and both have some very good people coming in. We were forced to go get some JC offensive linemen and receivers to replace graduates and fill weak areas, so until they play, it's tough to say how they will fit in. They sound very good on paper, though. I fully expect both teams to make the playoffs and host a first-round game at the least. I would not be surprised if both teams go into Cat-Griz with only one loss each, with another conference championship at stake. Should be fun...
Idaho State will surely be in the mix this year, and will probably be better than they were last year. I would go so far as to call them a I-AA power in the not-too-distant future. As for the rest of the conference, Eastern and Portland State will be worse than they were, and NAU, Weber, and Sac State won't put up much of a fight. With the Bobcats, you have two big question marks. (1) Will someone replace Ryan Johnson? and (2) Will opponents be able to contain Lulay better now that teams can sufficiently prepare for him?
The Griz really have one question to answer: What kind of coach will Bobby Hauck be come gameday?
I have to reply to BOZONECAT on this one.

I agree with Boze on the snow thing. I don't even know why that was factered in on the game. The Griz have put up 70 points in the snow, and just like every year prior to last years loss, we have played in the snow.

On the crap side of things, MSU's D did dominate our offense. They wanted it more. I think with injuries and other factors, the fire just started to fizzle. Even in the games that the Griz won, they never really dominated. I think there was maybe two games where the D and the O where clicking on all 8 cylinders during the same game. For most of the season it was just the D running on all 8.

It also didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out our offensive plays. What? We ran about 5 to 7 different plays all season. Factor that in with injuries and you had a team with a lot of tradition, expectations, but very little to back up what they did years prior to last.

Last season made a lot of Griz fans eat their words. The very words they were used to being backed up by a dominating Football team.

Let's just say this season will have more expectations... new QB, coach, seating or not. The tools are there. Now we'll just have to wait and see if they can use them.

As for our Bison game??? Who cares. Maine is our first target. We'll deal with the Bison when they come to Missoula. I don't hold a lot of stock in how dominant a team was in their old division. Otherwise U of Idaho, Nevada, and to a lesser extent , Troy State would have been kicking ass in their new divisions. Not to say that NDSU won't do well, but projecting success based off of your D2 performances three years ago, and even prior to that, aren't always safe bets. Especially when you can't even get your own state to support the move up. And I'm talking state government, which equalls funding... not UND opinions.
BozoneCat: Not that I was dissin' the 'Cats--you had a very good squad last year, and the game would have been close regardless of the weather and the Griz injuries, but both of those things did play a part. The weather, although not determinative, did help keep the score down for both teams. It's pretty hard to throw accurately in 20-30 mile/hour winds, for any team. And the Griz were fairly decimated by the time of the Griz-Cat game. Shaker is correct on the Griz offensive lack of imagination last year, too. The biggest factor, though, was probably emotional: The 'Cats just seemed to want it more. Who wouldn't, after 16 years of frustration?

Montana's new coaching staff seems to have the players' attention, and respect, a lot more than last year's. And don't expect that your defense will be able to figure out our offensive plays before they happen, which even casual Griz fans could last year.

I'm sure it'll be a good one, but (in a long-range prediction that is admittedly based on not much more than speculation) the Griz will win because they have new weapons, new tactics, and a score to settle.
When we played MSU, the cats had the overall better team on the field and they also had the better attitude. Our injuries started to play on the minds of the coaches and players. It was like, who's next? The coaches even discussed after so many injuries, what would be the breaking point of the team. It was determined if Trey or Vernon went down, we would be done. Trey played against MSU and EW at about 1/2 speed. Take that and all the other injuries, the attitudes started to go down and the Griz Mystique/dominance of MSU was in big trouble. But some of those kids did play with big hearts. We only lost by 3 points with 1/2 our starters on the bench. Also MSU was peaking going into that game and in my opinion, we had already peaked at Idaho. I firmly believe, we win by 20+, had we played the kittens the week we played I-duh-ho. Just my humble opinion.
I think it is interesting that you say that if Trey or Vernon went down......EW and MSU Trey was 1/2 speed. But the ultimate demise of the Griz Last season was with 4 minutes left to go in the McNesse game.

Vernon went out of the game...we had a 17 point lead, and even the McFans KNEW that this game was history...........then the Bombs started dropping.....and it was no coincidence that that were falling most of the time on Vernon's replacement.

I still think that the Griz would have been in the Championship if Vernon would have been able to complete that game. There is no way the Villinova would have come to Wash/Griz and beat the Griz. But I don't know how we would have matched up with WKU. Oh well.....coulda, shoula, woulda.......Man I can't wait for this season!
Our past D2 success is a statement about the program not a game. Our program has been geared to success and has had its share. as all of you know its a cyclical thing and good programs keep coming up with good teams. I think NDSU will be able to do that. From what Ive heard we have home/home with both the Montana schools. MSU starts in 2004.

If we have any chance at all its going to be a tough Defense and a scoring offense that will take advantage of your defensive backfield inexperience. We have the players to do that, but games are won by the players and you have more talent than we do. It will take a superb effort to win this. The Griz have to be at least 3 TD favorites. for that reason Im sure this game isnt going to ignite much excitement for your fans or hopefully even your team.
Hey JBB,
Sorry to dissapoint you on the supposed "non-excitement" factor of our 1st home game. We WILL be fired up and I can assure you the team will be rearing to go. We have been salivating over this team since last year, and for those of us that aren't going to Maine this will be our first taste. You guys have been talking your team up pretty good. Sounds like ya'll play smash mouth football. Everyone keeps assuring us that in 5 years you will be a powerhouse. Thing is, I belive it. So come the first game we meet as 1-AA peers we will have to give you a whoopin so tough that you will still fear us in 5 years. Im sure you will put up a valiant fight. But don't think that we will "play down" one bit. I have a feeling our foes, old and new, will be asking themselves, "What the Hauck happened to the Griz?"
Well, so much for the suprise attack. We will get a warm up too, with Tusculum in Fargo the week before our game with you. UNC was one of the 10 best in D2 last year. If we can hang in as well as they did it will be a geat game for us. It doesnt get all that much easier after that with Davis coming to Fargo.

The thing about the BISON is this, we are coming off a terrible season that cost the coaches their jobs. We have what looks to be a great coaching staff, a slew of talented players and about 4 months to get ready. It may not be enough time, but I have a good feeling about the team and think they might have it together by the time our NCC schedule starts. I dont think we will finish in last place next year.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the reason that UNC held in so tough was that UNC had an idea of what we were running and the fact that Coach Glenn didn't want to embarrass his former mates.
I can't say I agree with that. 14-14 going into the fourth quarter is more than just trying not to embarrass the old team. I doubt NDSU will put up the same kind of effort coming off a 2-8 season whereas Northern Colorado was one of the best in D2 last year.
NDSU will be a better team this year and should play loose in the game. Really, there is nothing to lose for the Bison as we are expected to lose. I expect the Bison defense to blitz a lot which will mean whoever the quarterback is will have to get rid of the ball early and make a quick decision with the ball.

The Bison will probably pass more then any of the past years. We have the most talent in the wide receiver area and the offense should be more wide open.
What your running will be interesting because you have a new coach. Is he going to do what Glenn did? We know Glenn. We have new coaches too, so Im not too sure your team will have any idea what we are running. You guys had kind of a down year yourselves. You can be as optomistic as you want, but you never know. It's pretty much the same for us.
By all accounts, we'll have a pass-first offense and a flex defense, kind of back to the old days for us.

We did have a down year, but it would have to be after winning the national championship. 11-3 in DI-AA is not the same as 2-8 in D2, so this still has all the makings for a blowout. I know crazier things have happened than NDSU beating the Griz, but I can't think of why that would ever come to be.

I agree if Montana brings a similar team as two years ago that it should be at least a 3 TD win. I hope that it is a close game though. If it is close, it means that NDSU can compete against the best in I-AA and should mean that the other DII teams next year better be wary of the Bison.
With what Montana is returning it is going to be VERY tough for the Bison to compete well. The Griz are a playoff calibre D1AA team. The big question mark is going to be what is the effect of the new coaching staff on the Griz as well as what is our new staff at NDSU able to put together. For the Bison to win this one at Missoula it will take incredible coaching by Bohl and staff as well as some new players showing up big. If that gets combined with a disaster on the part of the new Griz coaching staff.... we may have a shot at it.

Down the road 3 to 5 years I think that the Bison will be back in playoff form. It will just take some time to fix the disaster that the former Bison coach created. I do hope this meeting becomes an annual home and home. It could develop into a tremendous rivalry. As for this year.......I suspect the most enjoyment for us Bison faithful will be tailgating and pregaming in Missoula.

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