No. 3 Montana turns attention to FCS playoff team in South Dakota

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Posted at 10:06 AM, Sep 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-10 12:06:31-04

MISSOULA — It's full-steam ahead for the second week of the college football season for the Montana Grizzlies.

The No. 3 Griz opened the season with a 47-0 thrashing of Northwestern State, but now turn their attention to Missouri Valley Conference school in South Dakota.

The Coyotes were a playoff team a year ago, and bring a plethora of experience back from last year's team into this campaign.

"Sound is the key word, they aren't going to beat themselves," Griz coach Bobby Hauck said. "They're going to be hard to move. Last time we played they did some things that challenged us with some of the movement things up front. They've got nine starters back on offense including four of the five offensive linemen so they're experienced and it's going to be a big challenge."

Hauck was also impressed with South Dakota's defensive line, a group he thought played well in their season-opening loss to FBS Kansas State.

For Montana, it's about improving on their already strong start.

Quarterback Lucas Johnson shined in his first game as a Griz, throwing for four touchdowns on the day, while the special teams also came up with a score.

And Montana's run game was diverse with Johnson and their stable of running backs, as the offense found a nice balance.

"Having explosive ball carriers that we have in our offense, it makes our job easy," Griz junior center AJ Forbes said. "Just make our calls, block our guys, do our job and let the guys with the ball in their hands do their thing."

The defense picked up where it left off from a year ago, and even new starters stepped up to the plate, with Anaconda native Braxton Hill earning defensive player of the week honors in his very first start, using last year's experience as a backup to propel him into this season.

"I would say it was no different than last year, just any time you step out on the field you do anything you can to help the team win," Hill said. "It was great to be out there and great to back playing games in front of the home crowd and just glad we got the win."

The Grizzlies saw South Dakota in 2019, and are looking for similar results as that victory three years ago.

"It's a huge game for us to try to get to 2-0," Hauck said. "We know that they'll be well coached, coach (Bob) Nielsen does a great job. They'll be big and physical and we'll have our hands full."