D-II Central Washington Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 GNAC) at #4 MONTANA GRIZZLIES (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky)
Saturday, September 6, 2014 – 3:37 pm MT
Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217) – Missoula, MT
While the Griz played their first game of the season against Wyoming on Saturday, the D-II Central Washington University Wildcats will be traveling to Missoula to take on Montana for its first game of the 2014 season. Montana is familiar with Central Washington, having played them in 2008 when the Wildcats took the Griz down to the wire with Montana needing to kick the game-winning 42-yard field goal to break a 35-35 tie to win 38-35 as time expired. This time, the upset-minded Wildcats are looking to finish the job.
- Head Coach – Ian Shoemaker, 1st season at CWU (0-0)
- Conference – Great Northwest Athletic Conference – DII (GNAC)
- 2014 GNAC Preseason Prediction – 2nd Place
- Overall Record – 483-320-32
- 2013 Record – 7-4 (7-3 GNAC), 3rd Place
- 2014 Record – 0-0 (0-0 GNAC), Tied for 1st
- Series History – Montana leads the series 1-0
- Last Meeting – September 27, 2008 – Montana won 38-35 in Missoula.
In 2013, Central Washington ranked dead last in total offense in the GNAC, gaining only 3,524 total yards on offense (320.4 yards/game). With coach Ian Shoemaker taking the reins this season, he says his team will run a no-huddle, multiple tempo, multiple shotgun type of offense. On Saturday, expect a heavy dose of the running game from Central Washington. Last season, the Wildcats ran the ball 491 times for 1,962 yards on the ground, averaging 178.4 yards/game. Much of CWU’s running game success came from returning Junior RB Jordan Todd, who led the way with 1,298 yards, 9 touchdowns, and averaged 121.3 yards/game.
At QB, Sophomore Jake Nelson is another threat who will lead this Wildcat Squad. Last season, the Wildcats threw for 1,562 yards. Nelson led the way with 1,282 yards, 13 touchdowns, and completed 62.3% of his passes.
Last season, the defense was the strength of this team, and it looks to be stout again for the 2014 season. For overall defense, the Wildcats were the best in the GNAC holding opponents to 298 yards/game. Opponents struggled to run and pass against the Wildcats as Central held teams to 87.7 yards/game on the ground and 105.4 yards/game in the air.
One of the biggest players returning for the Wildcats on defense is Junior Cornerback, Isaiah Davis. Davis is regarded as one of the nation’s top-rated D-II players, and was named to the 1st-team defense on the 2014 D2football.com Preseason All-American team. Davis started all 11 games for the Wildcats in 2013 where he had six interceptions. Davis was the top punt returner in the GNAC, averaging 13-yards per return, and was 4th in kick returns (24.9 yards/return).
While this may not be as strong of a team as the 2008 Wildcats, they still are a high-quality D-II team that is looking to catch the Griz napping who are coming off of a close game against Wyoming. While Wyoming’s quarterback didn’t test the Griz secondary, Central Washington’s quarterback will definitely be a significant step up and will challenge the secondary. With the Wildcats having an aggressive defense, expect them to test the O-Line and put pressure on Jordan Johnson. This will be a good game for the Griz O-Line to improve. The Griz should win this one comfortably, but that’s what we thought back in 2008. The Griz cannot look past this Wildcat team and must correct the mistakes from the Wyoming game if they want to keep Central Washington from leaving Missoula with an upset.
- Similar to Montana’s #37 Legacy, Central Washington also has its own legacy – #44. The #44 jersey is given to a defensive player who exemplifies the standards of a Wildcat Defender: dedication, toughness, discipline, and tenacity. This year, the tradition of the #44 jersey will be worn by Tovar Sanchez, Defensive Lineman.
- Current Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin was the head coach for Central Washington in 2007. In his only season with the Wildcats, he lead the team to a 10-3 record and an appearance in the 2007 NCAA Division 2 Playoffs.
Last thought – What Griz Nation needs to do: BE LOUD, EARLY AND OFTEN!
This should be a win for the Griz, but it won’t be an easy game and we can’t overlook this Wildcat squad. With CWU going with a no-huddle offense, be loud early and often to keep them out of sync. Bring the noise, Griz Nation! Beat the Wildcats!
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