Grizzly ‘D’ shines in practice game

MISSOULA — The Griz defense stood out this morning (Saturday, Aug. 16) in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, as the University of Montana held its second scrimmage of 2014 fall camp.

The “D,” led by their veteran defensive line and speedy linebackers, limited the offense to just one touchdown and 216 total yards on 52 plays.

The defense was especially stingy in the run game, giving up just 57 yards on 27 carries, allowing only 2.1 yards per tote, and recovered two fumbles.

The passing game by UM’s four quarterbacks was efficient, though, as they completed 16-of-25 attempts for a solid 64 percent, but had  just 159 passing yards (9.9 yards per completion), and were intercepted twice.

“I really thought our defense played well today,” said head coach Mick Delaney.  “They tackled very well and for the most part they flew around and got to the football, and got a few of turnovers.  They got a fumble recovery in the red zone and a couple of interceptions as well.  There were a lot of good things out there on defense.”

“Senior defensive end Zack Wagenmann had two sacks and a pair of quarterback hurries, while senior nose tackle Tonga Takai had two tackles for loss.  Senior defensive tackle Trevor Rehm also had a sack.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Connor Strahm (Eugene, Ore.), had the play of the day, as he picked off a pass and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown, but the play was nullified because of a penalty.  Strahm’s display of speed was no big surprise, though, as he had 92 receptions for 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season as a wide receiver for his state champion Sheldon High School team, and he was the state’s 6A defensive player of the year for the Irish, playing safety.

Redshirt freshman Josh Janssen (Missoula) continues to play well, as he had two catches for a scrimmage-high 44 yards, with a long of 30 yards.  Seniors Kevin Berland and Mitch Saylor, and sophomore Ryan Burke all had three receptions today.  True freshman running back Lorenzo Logwood (Oakland, Calif.) had a scrimmage-high 26 yards on seven carries.

“Josh has had a nice pre-fall,” Delaney said.  “The receivers are kind of like the O-line.  There are a lot of guys there who wouldn’t be getting those first team reps if everything was normal and we didn’t have those guys out with injuries.  Our young receivers, Ryan Burke and Josh, along with Chase (Naccarato) and Kevin Berland all really did some nice things out there today.”

Senior quarterback Jordan Johnson completed 12-of-15 (75 percent) passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.  His TD throw was an 8-yarder to Burke.

“I think we are making a lot of progress on offense,” Delaney said.  “It’s real easy to get frustrated with the offense, but when you step back and look at it; we have a lot of young guys on our offensive line with not a lot of experience yet, and they have their hands full going up against that defensive line of ours.

“That D-line we have is a formidable group, and our linebackers have outstanding speed, so it’s no surprise that our offense struggles a bit against those guys,” Delaney continued.  “Like I said earlier, we’re getting better on offense, and we’re getting better on the offensive line.  Those young guys getting reps on the offensive line is going to help us in the long run.”

The only other scoring today was by UM’s three place-kickers, Harrison Greenberg, Chris Lider, and Daniel Sullivan, who were a combined 8-of-9 on field goal attempts.

“I was happy with the kickers today,” Delaney said.  “I thought they were very good, probably the best they’ve been in pre-fall.  Chris had a really good week, and I think all three of them are getting better, and it’s still a very competitive situation.  We’ll keep that competition up next week, and then make a decision (on a starter).”

“Top to bottom I think we got out of it (the scrimmage) what we wanted, it’s hard to tell,” he said.  “We had a couple of injuries and you never like that.”

After this morning’s scrimmage the team showered and then donned their game uniforms and returned to the field for “Media Day” and to have team and individual photos taken.


Scoring: Ryan Burke 8 pass from Jordan Johnson.

Passing: Jordan Johnson 12-16, 133 yards; Brady Gustafson 2-4, 9 yards; Shay Smithwick-Hann 0-2; Makena Simis 2-3, 17 yards.

Rushing: Lorenzo Logwood 7-26; John Nguyen 7-13; Treshawn Favors 5-12; Nate Hanser 3-6; Jordan Canada 5-0.

Receiving: Josh Janssen 2-44; John Nguyen 1-28; Kevin Berland 3-25; Ryan Burke 3-20; Mitch Saylor 3-17; Jamal Wilson 1-9; Josh Horner 1-7; Nico Graham 1-5; Mike Ralston 1-4.

Field Goal kicking: Chris Lider: 3-of-3 field goals (37, 40, 42); Harrison Greenberg: 4-of-of-4 (37, 37, 40, 42); Daniel Sullivan 1-of-2 (40 G, 42 NG).

Defensive highlights

Junior safety Eric Johnson: fumble recovery.

Senior tackle Trevor Rehm sack.

Junior linebacker Connor Lebsock: fumble recovery.

Sophomore tackle Zach Peevey tackle for loss.

Senior end Zack Wagenmann 2 sacks.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Connor Strahm interception, tackle for loss

Sophomore cornerback Tyrel Garner jarring pass breakup.

Junior corner back Nate Harris interception.

Punting: Stephen Shaw 3 for 42, 44, 37; and Lider 1 for 40.

GRIZ NOTES: All-American candidate Ellis Henderson remains out due to illness, as was honors candidate and fellow wide receiver Jamaal Jones, who has missed the last few days with an injury.  Also still out with injuries are starting offensive tackles Trevor Poole and John Schmaing.

Naccarato (Spokane), freshman running back Nate Hanser (from Broadview), and redshirt linebacker Zach Vis (from Lynden, Wash.) all sustained e injuries in today’s scrimmage.

“I think consistency is going to be the big thing, of both sides of the ball,” Delaney said, when asked about his main goal of the remainder of fall camp.  “I think we had only one defensive penalty today, and offensively we had a few, but those are things that we can coach up and get fixed. “

— Montana Sports Information 

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