No. 5 Montana hosts Sacramento State, looks to avenge 2019 loss

Posted at 1:27 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 16:09:24-04

MISSOULA — The halfway point of the college football regular season has arrived and the Montana Grizzlies currently sit at 4-1 overall and ranked fifth in the country.

Next up Montana returns to Big Sky Conference play on Saturday when they welcome Sacramento State. To this point in the season, Griz coach Bobby Hauck said so far his team's resiliency has stood out to him the most.

"We’ve done what good teams do, find different ways to win games," Hauck said. "Still a hard working football team that’s a work in progress and when you can be that and be where we are right now that’s probably a good thing."

UM is coming off of a win over Dixie State in a game where quarterback Kris Brown made his first start, and other players have continued to fill in for injuries that have tested Montana's depth.

"Kris got his first start and I know the whole team has full belief in him and his abilities," UM offensive guard Moses Mallory said. "He practices with us everyday and he’s doing everything all of the other quarterbacks are doing and it’s good to see him stepping up and controlling the game."

Defensively UM has dealt with a depleted defensive line with Joe Babros missing his third straight game against Dixie State while DeAri Todd also didn't suit up. Meanwhile, Garrett Graves has started in place of Gavin Robertson at safety for the last three contests.

Previewing the Griz - Sacramento State football game

Still, the defense continued to flex its muscles against the Trailblazers even as more players were asked to step up and fill roles.

"I love it, I love watching them get a chance to go out onto the field and make plays," UM defensive tackled Eli Alford said. "I think (in) practice it’s just fun getting new guys to play with around me on both sides. Just get more dynamic between all different players on the defense but it’s just cool watching them go out and play and I like watching all of the guys on the defense play, watching all of them step up."

Now, the Griz, who are 1-1 in Big Sky play, turn their attention to the Hornets, a team that is 2-0 in league play so far this year and one that beat Montana in 2019. The Hornets beat UM 49-22 in Sacramento and in 2021 they hold wins over Idaho State and Southern Utah, but that loss from 2019 still lingers as the Griz pick Big Sky play back up and aim to improve their record to 2-1.

"I think every loss that we take lingers for every game we go forward with," Alford said. "It just lights a fire under the whole defense and the whole team. None of us like to lose so I think it’s going to motivate everyone, especially this week."