MISSOULA — We're well into November in Montana and the weather has taken a downturn in the temperatures, but this weekend the Montana Grizzlies will be avoiding the snow and heading to a dry environment for their next football game, as they head down to Flagstaff to take on Northern Arizona, home of the Walkup Skydome.
Up and down is one way to describe NAU's season, as the Lumberjacks come into Saturday's game with a 4-5 record with some good wins, but some bad losses. The Lumberjacks hold a win over FBS Arizona, but have also lost to Northern Colorado, a team Montana just beat 35-0. However, NAU has had a gauntlet of a schedule after opening the year against FCS No. 1 Sam Houston State and South Dakota, while also playing UC Davis and Sacramento State during league play.
"They beat UA of Tucson, they beat Idaho at Idaho," Bobby Hauck said at his Monday presser. "Those were kind of eye-opening wins when I looked back at it. Been an interesting year for them, I’m sure that coach (Chris) Ball would say the same thing but they’re well coached in all three phases, they’re going to play hard. It’s what they do. They look very athletic to me including the offensive line so should be a good game."
Montana's recent win over Northern Colorado makes it three straight victories for the Griz football team, with wins over Idaho and Southern Utah before that.
The Griz (7-2, 4-2 Big Sky) are 3-1 on the road this season but it's the first time they'll be on the road in back-to-back games, and this week's game comes just before the highly-anticipated Brawl of the Wild with No. 3 Montana State. It's the second time they'll play in a domed environment this year including at Idaho on Oct. 23.
The Grizzlies got starting quarterback Cam Humphrey back from injury against the Bears, but again the injury bug hit the Griz last week as they played without a pair of starting offensive linemen and also lost some players during the game against the UNC, including nose tackle Eli Alford and running back Xavier Harris who was making his return from an extended absence due to injury.
But backups have continued to step up for Montana to kickstart this latest winning streak, something Hauck believes will be the case again on Saturday.
"I’m proud of our guys because when they’re banged up they go out there and fight their way back on the field and make plays and if they can’t go the next guy has done a good job of trying to step up so we’ll just keep doing it, hopefully we can hold up," Hauck said.