Griz, Bobcats Look to Improve Offense

By Beacon Staff

Both the Montana and Montana State football teams are looking to improve their offensive production in home games Saturday.

Montana (6-0, 3-0), which fell to a third-place ranking in the Sports Network poll after three lackluster wins, plays host to Northern Colorado (0-7, 0-3), which is still looking for its first win this season.

No. 20 Montana State (4-2, 2-1) takes on Sacramento State (1-5, 1-3). Both games kick off at 1:05 p.m.

Griz fans have been grumbling lately about Montana’s lack of domination over its opponents after an 18-10 win over Weber State, a 24-23 win over Eastern Washington on a last-second field goal and a 17-3 win over Sac State that looked more respectable after Torrey Thomas returned an interception for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Montana had just nine first downs against Sac State and just 80 yards rushing and 93 passing.

“I’m not into numbers other than the W on the left-hand column,” said Griz coach Bobby Hauck. “But we didn’t play well enough on offense last week and that’s my job to make sure it improves this week. I need to do a better job coaching.”

Montana has the No. 8 offense in the nine-team Big Sky Conference, but they’re No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense.

Offensive tackle Cody Balogh said Montana’s opponents “have been coming with their A game against us. That said, offensively we haven’t really done what we’re capable of doing these past couple weeks.

“Northern Colorado is a good team, but we’re going to focus on us this week, because we’ve got some stuff we need to take care of,” Balogh said. “It’s about us this week, and getting our stuff straight, so we can help the defense out and repay the favors they’ve been giving us.”

In Bozeman, Montana State is also looking to boost its offensive production. With the exception of a strong second-half against Idaho State, the Bobcats’ offense has scored just one touchdown per game against Weber State, Southern Utah and Eastern Washington.

“We’re looking at ourselves right now and wondering how we can be better teachers,” coach Rob Ash said of the coaching staff. “We know what we want to do, and we’re getting it right – or close to right – most of the time, but it hasn’t quite clicked yet.”

“We said in our staff meeting (on Tuesday) that we don’t want to have another Sunday where we say we could have done this or should have done this,” Ash said. “We want to have a week where we say: ‘This time, it did come together.'”

Cory Carpenter will start at quarterback Saturday, after Jack Rolovich aggravated a shoulder injury in the 35-13 loss at Eastern Washington.

Carpenter started six games last season before suffering an ankle injury.

“It gives me a lot of confidence that he’s played before,” Ash said. “He’s an experienced guy. That gives me, the whole team, a lot of confidence.

Ash said he’s impressed with Sacramento State’s speed.

“They are a fast football team that played a great game against Montana, and they really played well against Northern Arizona,” Ash said. “They are really aggressive on defense, their linebackers are very active and they lead the Big Sky in sacks by a pretty good margin.”

The Bobcats are looking to extend their home winning streak to eight games, but it looks like they’ll be playing in rain or snow for the fourth time in the past five games.

The Bobcats played in the mud against Southern Utah two weeks ago, but groundskeepers think they’ve got the field back in shape for Saturday’s game.

“If the rain comes down slowly and we get no major dumps (of snow) we should be OK,” said Dave Hawkins, MSU’s groundskeeper and turf specialist.

In other Big Sky games, Northern Arizona (4-3, 3-1) is at Weber State (2-4, 2-2), Portland State (2-4, 2-1) is at Idaho State (2-4, 1-3) and No. 22 Eastern Washington (4-2) at Brigham Young (4-2).