Montana Grizzlies 'encouraged' by progress in spring football

KPAX 040822 Griz Spring Game JDO28.jpg
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 11, 2022

MISSOULA — Spring football is in the books for the Montana Grizzlies.

The conclusion of the scrimmage last Friday marked the final day of spring ball, and UM head coach Bobby Hauck said he was pleased with how this latest spring session went.

"I think the spring has been really good," Hauck said after the game. "I think there's been some good performances. I'm really encouraged by a lot of guys that haven't played a lot of college football being more ready to do that. So I thought the spring was good."

Hauck said he won't take too much away from Friday's scrimmage, a game where no points were scored until the third quarter as both the offensive and defensive units ran a limited option of plays.

But as the Grizzlies go forward, there will be plenty to keep an eye on come fall camp.

Montana is entrenched in a quarterback battle between Kris Brown and Lucas Johnson, and the Grizzlies are also looking to replace three starting offensive linemen and both of their starting defensive ends from last season, positions where young guys are looking to step up.

Plus, how will UM's injured running backs from a year ago in Marcus Knight and Nick Ostmo return? And which young players will step up to replace stalwarts like wide receiver Samuel Akem on offense, or linebacker Jace Lewis on defense?

Redshirt junior linebacker Braxton Hill and sophomore receiver Aaron Fontes are two players looking to do exactly that.

"Growing up you see guys like Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle and you just want to be them and then you get here and you just watch the seniors and you just see the atmosphere and it's just awesome and everyone loves Montana football and it just makes it that much more fun," Hill said. "And then when it's your turn, it's your turn and all you can do is leave it out there and enjoy it."

"It feels good. My freshman year I got not too many reps but I got a few reps and some game time and now just coming into spring I feel a lot more comfortable with the plays and all that so just all around felt like a better player coming out here for the team," Fontes added.

But with spring now completed, Hauck's takeaway is he likes what he sees so far, and feels good about where the team currently sits. The team will head into a "strength and speed segment" over the next few weeks until finals, according to Hauck. The players will get a few weeks off after that before coming back for summer workouts and eventually fall camp in August. UM opens the season on Sept. 3 in Missoula against Northwestern State.

"The single biggest takeaway I've got from this spring would be I think we're going to have a good football team," Hauck said. "I think we're going to be fun to watch. I think we've got great guys with a great attitude, and I think we'll have a good team."