110517 montana v n arizona8 kw.jpg

Montana safety Evan Epperly breaks up a pass to Northern Arizona's Justis Stokes.

KURT WILSON, Missoulian

MISSOULA — The biggest question mark heading into Montana's game Saturday against Northern Colorado is who the man in the pocket will be for the Grizzlies.

Caleb Hill started last week against Northern Arizona after Gresch Jensen's concussion held him out, but Makena Simis played from the second series on. 

On Wednesday, Montana head coach Bob Stitt said, "We're hoping it's Gresch. He got out there and threw the ball around a little bit (Tuesday). We definitely, we want Gresch to be the guy."

On Thursday's weekly installment of the Grizzly Coach's Show, Stitt said Jensen looked good in practice all week and that he foresees Jensen, along with Simis and Hill, getting reps in on Saturday.

"We're excited to get him back out on the field and the other guys have had a great week also," Stitt said on the show. "I anticipate all three getting snaps."

Here are four other things to watch out for in Montana's final regular season home game against Northern Colorado:

UM S Justin Strong: Strong is back from his two-game suspension after being arrested during the bye week in Pullman, Washington.

But rather than plugging Strong back into the starting rotation, Stitt said that he needs to "earn it" and that Strong will play on special teams and in substitution packages. 

"We're playing good defense with Evan Epperly in there and we're not gonna disrupt what we're doing as a defensive group," Stitt said Wednesday. "Justin is a guy we're glad to have back, but he made a mistake and hurt our football team and made a bad decision and you don't slide right back in when you come off the suspension."

UNC WR Alex Wesley: The biggest contributor to the Bears' aerial offense is Wesley.

Through eight games, Wesley's racked up 849 yards on 47 catches with four touchdowns. He averages just over 106 yards per game. 

Watch for Montana's defense to key in on Wesley.

UM's front seven: Montana's front seven has been consistently dominant all season. That won't be stopping any time soon.

One of those seven — linebacker Connor Strahm — had a career-high 16 tackles against NAU and was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week. In just seven games, Strahm has racked up 62 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, as well as two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.

Strahm isn't the only one standing out. Linebacker Josh Buss was named to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list this week too for his efforts. Buss has 89 tackles, 12 1/2 tackles for loss (5 1/2 of which are sacks), an interception, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

Strahm and Buss aren't alone.

Of the 20 sacks leaders in the conference, five of them are Montana defenders — Tucker Schye, Buss, Chris Favoroso, Jesse Sims and James Banks.

Schye, Buss and Banks are ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 respectively in the league in average tackles for loss as well. Favoroso's not far being at No. 9.

It's not easy to pick which Montana defender will have a big game on Saturday but one thing's for sure: at least one of them will. 

Spoiler streaks: Northern Colorado has lost five straight games since beating Idaho State by one point in its conference opener. With a 2-6 record with a 1-5 conference ledger, Northern Colorado is eliminated from playoff contention. 

But just because UNC is out of the running doesn't mean it can't spoil the postseason riches for Montana like last season. 

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

0
0
0
0
1

Load comments