Early Defense, Late Offense the Story in Griz's First Scrimmage - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Early Defense, Late Offense the Story in Griz's First Scrimmage

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The Montana Grizzlies came out and ran roughly 75 plays in about an hour on Monday afternoon, scoring 16 points in the team’s first scrimmage of the fall season, highlighted by big plays on both sides of the ball.

If the goal of the scrimmage was to shake off the summertime rust, signs of getting there were evident two-thirds of the way through the game for the offense, just like Coach Stitt drew it up.

“We got in some situations that are difficult to recover from when you’re first and 15 or second and 20, things like that. The tempo got going, the reps got high, and the offense started going. You saw the effects of what tempo can do, running the ball, moving the ball.”

Montana ran 12 offensive series and took a while to get going against a Grizzly defense that was wound up and ready to run.

As the play count increased and the receivers made some great grabs in the last third of the scrimmage, the pieces started to fall into place for the offense, contributing to a more varied and consistent attack.

“The offensive line saw what we can do once we get the play count up to double digits, how much easier it was, and they were excited,” said Stitt. “They were excited to have some success running the ball. When we can run the ball, we can do anything. We progressed today.”

It was the Griz D that almost got on the board first when senior cornerback Eric Johnson (San Francisco, Calif.) picked off sophomore quarterback Eric Prater (Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) during the sixth series and nearly returned it for a pick-six. Overall the defense was stellar in the opening series, putting in four sacks in the first five offensive possessions.

Kicker Daniel Sullivan put the Griz on the board in the ninth series with a field goal following a 20-yard pass from Prater to senior captain Jamaal Jones (Spanaway, Wash.) that put UM into the red zone for the first time of the afternoon.

Transfer senior wide receiver Ben Roberts (Missoula) came up with the play of the day on the next drive when sophomore quarterback Makena Simis (Boise, Idaho) went for it on fourth and four, and put a 34-yard bomb down the left sideline to find the fingertips of an outstretched Roberts in the end zone for the first TD. Sullivan connected on the PAT to put the Griz at 10.

Not to be outdone, junior quarterback Chad Chalich (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) found Ellis Henderson (Vancouver, Wash.) on the next drive wide open, streaking down the right sideline for a 72-yard strike to the end zone. Chris Lider’s kick missed wide right to leave the score at 16.

NOTES:

Coach Stitt only gave his projected starting QB Brady Gustafson three drives before turning over the reigns to Prater, Chalich and Simis to see who shapes up to fill in as the No. 2 and 3 QBs on the depth chart.

All three produced similarly. Chalich went 6-11-0 (unofficially), Simis went 6-14-0, and Prater was 4-12-1 to give the offense 240 yards of total production.

The team was welcomed with good news following the scrimmage when Coach Stitt announced to the team that the NCAA had officially cleared veteran wide receiver Ellis Henderson to compete this semester.

Unofficial stats:

OFFENSE

Touchdowns

Ben Roberts 34 pass from Makena Simis (Chris Lider kick) Ellis Henderson 72 pass from Chad Chalich (Lider kick failed)

Field goals

Daniel Sullivan – made: 34.

Passing

Brady Gustafson 2-5-0 – 20; Chad Chalich 6-11-0 – 107; Makena Simis 6-14-0 – 67; Eric Prater 4-12-1 – 46. Totals: 18-42-1 – 240.

Rushing

John Nguyen 8-26, Lorenzo Logwood 6-17, Jeremy Calhoun 5-9, Joey Counts 1-3,  Prater 1-2, Simis 4-(-3), Gustafson 1-(-7), Chalich 3-(-7). Totals: 29-50.

Receiving

Jamaal Jones 4-30, Ellis Henderson 3-90 Justin Calhoun 3-19, Ben Roberts 1-34, Caleb Lyons 1-17, Josh Janssen 1-12, Josh Horner 1-11, Je. Calhoun 1-10, Reese Carlson 1-9, Logwood 1-7, Nico Graham 1-1.

DEFENSE

Interceptions

Eric Johnson (of Prater).

Sacks

Ryan Johnson 2, Holmes, Gamboa.

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