Following is the game notes for the University of Montana Grizzlies season-opening football game Saturday against South Dakota. The notebook is provided by UM Sports Information.
GAME No. 1: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA COYOTES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA GRIZZLIES, SATURDAY, SEPT. 1: KICKOFF AT 1:37 P.M.
THE GAME: The 10th/11th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies open their 2012 season at home Saturday, Sept. 1, playing the South Dakota Coyotes for the 16th time and the first since 1999, starting at 1:37 p.m. in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217).
GRIZ IN OPENERS: Montana is 67-42-2 all-time in season openers (since 1897). UM is 52-20-1 in season openers at home. The Griz played in front of the biggest crowd in school history — 94,661, in Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium in their season opener last year.
FB PARENTS DAY: Prior to the game the parents of the Griz players will be introduced.
GRIZ RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the play-by-play for Griz football for his 20th season in a row in 2012. Former (1991-94) Griz wide receiver Scott Gurnsey and Greg Sundberg, Executive Director of the Grizzly Scholarship Association, provide in-booth color. UM’s flagship station is KGVO Radio, 1290 AM/101.5 FM.
TV: The UM-USD game will be televised by Max Media (ABC/FOX) of Missoula. Announcers: Chris Byers (play-by-play), John Edwards (color), and Shaun Rainey (sidelines). The game is available on KWYB-ABC 18 & 28 Butte/Bozeman, KTMF-ABC 23 & 42 Missoula/Kalispell, KFBB-ABC 5 Great Falls, KHBB-ABC 5 Helena, KULR-NBC 8 Billings, and KXGN-NBC Glendive.
UM HAS 7 STARTERS/33 LETTERMEN BACK: The Grizzlies return just seven starters and 33 lettermen from a senior-laden team that posted an overall mark of 11-3, won the Big Sky Conference regular-season championship (7-1), and advanced to the FCS semifinals.
STARTERS RETURNING: UM’s five starters back on offense: junior tackle Danny Kistler, junior center Kjelby Oiland, senior wide receiver Sam Gratton, senior tight end Greg Hardy, and senior running backs Dan Moore and Peter Nguyen (who split starting duties). Starters back on “D” are junior linebacker John Kanongata’a and junior safety Bo Tully.
BIG SKY CHAMPS AGAIN: Last year the Grizzlies won or shared their 16th Big Sky title in the past 19 years.
PLAYOFF VETERANS: Last season was the 18th time in the last 19 years that Montana has participated in the national playoffs. The Griz advanced to the FCS/Division I-AA playoffs for the 21st time, losing 31-28 at No.-1 ranked Sam Houston State in a semifinal game.
26 CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS: Montana’s victory at Northern Arizona on Oct. 22, 2011 was its sixth of the year — giving the Grizzlies their 26th winning seasons in a row, a streak which started in 1986.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Montana is 171-21 (89.1%) all-time in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The Grizzlies are 46-3 at home since the 2006 season, and were undefeated at home in 2008 (9-0), 2009 (9-0), and 2011 (8-0). UM is 31-1 at home over the past four seasons.
THIRD IN FCS IN ATTENDANCE: Montana was ranked third in the FCS in average attendance in 2011 (averaging 24,878 in eight home games).
NGUYEN 18TH IN SINGLE-SEASON RUSHING YARDS: Junior running back Peter Nguyen rushed for 835 yards last season, the 18th most yards ever gained in a season at UM.
KISTLER NAMED PRESEASON AA: Kistler was named to The Sports Network’s preseason All-American second team on offense.
TWO NAMED TO PRESEASON TEAM: Hardy and Kistler were named to the 2012 Big Sky preseason all-conference team. The Grizzlies had no players named to the defensive squad.
JOE RETURNS: USD head coach Joe Glenn was the Grizzlies’ mentor from 2000-02, and went 39-6 in his tenure and his 2001 Montana team won the Division I-AA national championship (a 13-6 win over Furman). Joe’s winning percentage of 86.7% is the best in Big Sky history.