HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Montana.
MONTANA (7-4 IN 2017)
Big Sky (Montana was 6th in 2017)
COACH: Bobby Hauck – 1st year (80-17 from 2003-2009)
2017 OFFENSE: 35.0 ppg. (11th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 29.0 ppg. (86th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The Grizzlies won at least a share of the Big Sky title every season in Bobby Hauck's first stint as head coach from 2003-2009. He then took the same position at UNLV from 2010-2014. Hauck is now back to rejuvenate a program that has been left out of the playoffs two years in a row. There's plenty of excitement surrounding his return to Missoula after he went 80-17 at the school. But it should also be noted it may take a couple years for Montana to return to a national power. Previous head coach Bob Stitt ran a fast-paced, spread-you-out offense with no fullbacks and few tight ends. Hauck is the complete opposite.
But there's still talent there to fit his system. Last year's freshman All-American quarterback Gresch Jensen transferred, but former UNLV starter Dalton Sneed appeared to be Hauck's guy in the spring. Last year's leading rusher Jeremy Calhoun and top two receivers Jerry Louie-McGee and Keenan Curran provide nice weapons. The offensive line, though, is thin and inexperienced. The defense is going to be led by stud linebacker Josh Buss, an All-American and preseason Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. But during media days earlier this week, Hauck slipped in that Buss's availability is in question because of "severe" health problems. Hauck's full quote can be read below.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Griz may not be ready to threaten North Dakota State and James Madison just yet, but expect this team to be back in the playoff mix. This is an FCS "blue blood" who just doesn't go three years in a row not playing in the postseason. They'll be tested early with two MVFC opponents in the nonconference. Those games are going to determine just where this program is in Hauck's first season after an interesting offseason with several transferring in and several transferring out.
TOP RETURNEE: LB Josh Buss (Preseason Big Sky DPOY)
THE NEXT BEST: RB Jeremy Calhoun (684 yards rushing, 7 TDs); WR Jerry Louie-McGee (50 rec., 645 yards, 3 TDs); WR Keenan Curran (38 rec. 803 yards, 7 TDs); LB Dante Olson (Second Team All-Big Sky on Special Teams)
TOP NEWCOMER: QB Dalton Sneed (Played at Fort Scott CC last year, started 6 games at UNLV in 2016 )
DID YOU KNOW?: Montana made the national title game in Hauck's last two seasons as head coach in 2008 and 2009, losing both by scores of 24-7 and 23-21.
THE QUOTE: "Josh (Buss) is a tremendous guy. He's a good teammate, a good leader, a tough guy. He's what you want. The big problem with Josh is we don't know how available he's going to be. He's had some severe health problems. I don't know, even stretching well into the season, how much availability he's going to have. I hope for his sake and our team's sake that we've got him for a good part of the season. But I don't know how fast he's going to be able to come off these injuries." — Head Coach Bobby Hauck said during media day
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoGriz
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @MontanaGrizFB