MISSOULA — Every phase of the game had its pluses Sunday evening, as the University of Montana Grizzly football team held its first scrimmage of fall camp in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The controlled, situational type of scrimmage took about an hour, concluding around 9:00 p.m. There were about 70 total plays, which included the kicking game.
“There were a lot of good things out there,” said Griz head coach Mick Delaney. “The first one (scrimmage) you kind of wonder what’s your identity is going to be. And what I hoped would be our identity on defense was that we’d be fast, we’d run to the ball, and we tackle well – and we did that. I think for the most part guys were really flying around on defense, and that’s going to be a great strength for us.
“Offensively we’ve still got some work to do,” Delaney said. “It’s a work in progress, but I tell you it’s great to watch Jordie Johnson be able to extend plays. We need to get things solidified a bit blocking-wise up front, and even from the backs and from the receivers, but we’ll be fine in that area.”
The scrimmage included a solid kicking effort by sophomore Harrison Greenberg, and juniors Chris Lider (Bellevue, Wash.) and Dan Sullivan (Snohomish, Wash). All three players were three-of-four on field goal attempts, each with a long kick of 40 yards.
Greenberg, from Lake Oswego, Ore. scored the first points of the scrimmage with a 28-yard field goal. His three-pointer was a set up on a 59-yard pass from sophomore Brady Gustafson (Billings) to redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Janssen (Missoula), a completion which moved the ball to the 11-yard line.
“I think the kicking game is much improved from the spring,” Delaney said. “Harrison ended as the starter there after spring drills, but he is getting some good competition from Chris and Daniel.”
Senior halfback Jordan Canada scored the first touchdown of the night, breaking free around the left side for a 25-yard touchdown run on a series in which the offense started with the ball on the 25-yard line of the defense.
The other two TDs of the night were scored on a few series that started from the defense’s 4-yard line. The first score came on a 4-yard pass from Johnson (Eugene, Ore.) to junior wide receiver Chase Naccarato (Spokane), while the second was an 8-yard run by redshirt freshman quarterback Makena Simis (Boise, Idaho).
The defense also had its moments today. Sophomore defensive tackle Zach Peevey (Misssoula) had 4 tackles, including two for losses, while junior linebacker Hebert Gamboa (San Clemente, Calif.) added had 4 stops and a TFL. Junior linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren (Bellevue, Wash.) had a scrimmage-high 5 tackles.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Tucker Schye (Malta) and true frosh Josh Buss (Boise, Idaho), had 3 tackles apiece. Junior cornerback Nate Harris (Chino, Calif.) had 2 pass deflections, as did junior end Aschan Richards (Butte). Sophomore cornerback Tyrel Johnson (Las Vegas, Nev.), a transfer from Cornell College in Iowa, had the only interception.
“We need to run the ball a little better, but that was a real nice move by Jordan Canada on the boundary to get on the edge and get into the end zone,” Delaney said. “So, yeah, we’ve made a lot of progress in six practices. I am happy with the energy; I am happy with the effort – now we’ve just got to clean things up a little bit.”
The Griz will work on special teams and watch film of the scrimmage tomorrow, and then have a two-a-day session on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
UM’s next scrimmage is slated for Saturday, Aug. 16, starting around 10:10 a.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
— Montana Sports Information