"One game at a time"

That gimmicky cliche seems to be the mantra for this team. After the game, I spoke with Coach Tinkle, Dave Vanderjagt and Andrew Strait about how their goals may have been altered since a few weeks ago, when the team was just hoping to make the Big Sky Tournament. Below are their responses in the order mentioned above. Sorry for any annoying clicking sounds.

Griz vs. Sac State: Live from The Zoo

After a bombed out MacBook hard drive, I'm back. Tonight I'll be doing the same thing I did for the Griz-Cat game and doing live updates from the student section. Comments and photos may not be as frequent but they'll be there.

For live photos from tonight's game against Sac State, go to flickr.com/grizzoulian. For some live comments on what's going on, go to twitter.com/colinokeefe. Also, the live comments will shown in the little flash item below.

Also, I'm going to try and get player and coach comments after the game. If you have any ideas or certain questions you'd like me to pose, leave them in the comments.

Sac State kicks MSU in the groin

As I mentioned, there were two positives that emerged from last night, here's the other.

The Montana State Bobcats basketball team was livin' the good life. On top of already beating a WAC and Pac-10 team, they had recently outplayed and demoralized the rival Griz. With the worst team in the conference next on the schedule, it looked like the hot streak would run at least one more game. Nope.

The Sac State Hornets, who had not beat a Division I team all year, knocked off the Cats 78-77. The Cats battled back from being 9 down with less than six minutes to go and led with 1:15 left. Then Sac missed a shot, Cats got the ball and were fouled with 17.9 seconds left.  Phil Friesen missed both. Hornets got the ball and freshman guard Vinny McGhee Jr found senior forward Justin Williams for a 16-foot baseline winner with 4.7 seconds left.

Here are some quotes from the Bozeman Chronicle:

“Yeah, I'm frustrated,” MSU coach Brad Huse said, before quickly crediting Sacramento State with dictating the pace and flustering his team, which shot 38.0 percent an committed two technical fouls.

“We came back and had a chance to win it, and it would've been a good win on the road.”[...]

“We got beat up by a freshman guard tonight,” Huse said, adding: “We're not going to win a lot of games unless we get more balance in scoring.”

Agreed Taylor: “People who usually make shots didn't make shots.”
It's worth noting that Carlos Taylor scored 34. Again.

Now the Cats head to NAU, where'll they'll take a long bus ride up to 7000 feet and try to succeed where the Griz didn't. Needless to say, it wouldn't be surprising to see both the Griz and Cats sitting at 1-2 after Saturday. If the Griz are 0-3, I'm gonna lose it.

Montana Grizzlies 2008 football schedule

The 2008 football schedule is out. As reported on here first, the Griz will open their season down San Luis Obispo against the Cal Poly Mustangs.

Here's the complete schedule:
Date ..... Opponent ..... Time
9.6 ..... at Cal Poly ..... TBA
9.13 ..... Southern Utah ..... 1:05 p.m.
9.20 ..... UC-Davis (Homecoming) ..... 1:05 p.m.
9.27 ..... Central Washington ..... 1:05 p.m.
10.4 ..... at Weber State * ..... TBA
10.11 ..... at Eastern Washington * ..... TBA
10.18 ..... Sacramento State * ..... 1:05 p.m.
10.25 ..... at Northern Colorado * ..... TBA
11.1 ..... Northern Arizona * ..... 12:05 p.m.
11.8 ..... at Portland State * ..... TBA
11.15 ..... Idaho State * ..... 12:05 p.m.
11.22 ..... Montana State * (108th meeting) ..... 12:05 p.m.

* Conference game
The OOC is alright. We probably shouldn't be playing a DII school but whatever. Here's O'Day's rationale on playing schools from a lower division. It's his response to playing Ft. Lewis last year but fits around the fact that we're playing Central Washington:
Last year, we played Fort Lewis (Don Read loved the Division II schools to let young kids get experience) and UM Athletics netted about $300,000 - not counting what the Adams Center received for ticket fees ($1 per ticket), or what dining services produced in sales, or the bookstore... not counting what the Missoula economy saw by another home game (estimated at between $5-$7 million per home weekend).  We admit that was a "money game," as do most teams at our level.   Still, it is no different than Oregon hosting Montana for $450,000 or Iowa hosting Montana for $650,000.  Their fans expected big wins at our expense, and they, too, need to produce funds to pay their bills.
After the non-conference slate, what should be two of our toughest BSC games are on the road: we have to go to Portland to play the Vikings and to the Cheney to play the Eagles. Those should be two very challenging games. Then we cap off the season with the Brawl in Missoula and hopefully another Big Sky Championship.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 9

This weekly feature is actually becoming weekly as it's back for consecutive weeks.

Griz get two game lead with victory over NAU. It's the Griz's most impressive win of the season and it almost guarantees them at least a share of the Big Sky championship. Lex carried for 130 yards in the second half and essentially carried the Griz to victory. Finally, we are starting to see the team everyone thought to compete for a National Championship.

Montana State embarrassed by Northern Colorado. Northern Colorado finally got its first win over a Big Sky team since joining the conference. It wasn't over a bottom-feeder like Sac State or Idaho State either. It was over 19th ranked Montana State. This will undoubtedly knock MSU out of the rankings, the BSC title chase and probably the playoffs.

Weber State 73, Portland State 68. Um, what the hell? It's the most points scored in an NCAA football game since these types of things were first recorded. Freshman quarterbacks—one a redshirt and one a true freshman—combined for 13 passing touchdowns. Portland State QB Drew Hubel, a true freshman making his first start, passed for nine touchdowns. I'm sure Mouse Davis likes to see that but I doubt this is what Glanville had in mind when he said PSU would have the hardest hitting defense on the West Coast.

Eastern Washington hands Sac State another close loss. Half the conference decided they weren't going to play defense this weekend. The Hornets and Eagles amassed more than 900 total yards in EWU's 31-24 win.

Idaho State thumped by Cal Poly, 48-28. Here's another team who felt defense really wasn't essential. Cal Poly quarterback Jonathan Dally threw for 453 yards and ran for 119 more. Idaho State is now 3-5 overall and 2-3 in conference.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 8

Photo by Todd Goodrich for Montanagrizzlies.com

This weekly roundup on action in the Big Sky has been less than weekly but here it is for this weekend's games.

The Bears are who we thought they were, but are the Griz? The Griz racked up an impressive 627 yards and 52 points in their dominant win over Northern Colorado but who really knows what that means? Will the win set the Griz offense on a track that leads toward Chattanooga or is this simply a good win over a bad team? Griz fans can hope for the former but the next two games should be a better indicator than this win over a team that hasn't beat a Division I team since moving up.

Bobcats survive Sac State. As many Griz fans expected/hoped for, the MSU offense had a bit of trouble against the Hornet defense. The Cats were down 6-0 at the half but outscored the Hornets 20-3 in the final two quarters. They've now won eight straight in what has effectively been dubbed "The Ashtray."

Weber ends NAU's two game BSC win streak. Not a whole lot going on in this one. The Lumberjacks had a chance to tie it with about 9 minutes left in the game but a two point conversion was batted down. A few plays later, Weber scored and the game was out of reach.

Portland State falls to Idaho State, 38-20. Going into this season, Portland State had hopes for a Big Sky championship. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. Sorry Jer. The Viks were up 13-3 at halftime but the Bengals scored four third quarter touchdowns with two of them being on defense. The Vikings are 2-5 overall and 2-2 in the Big Sky. The only thing that may salvage their season: an upset over UM. I'm not too frightened but it is on my mind.

Eastern gets crushed by BYU. Fans of FCS, or at least Big Sky teams, hoped EWU's impressive offense would at least put a little fear into BYU, maybe make a game out of it. That did not happen. While the Eagles suffered a 42-7 defeat, they did get $325,000 for making the trip.

Happy Birthday to the ugliest mascot in the world

It's Herky the Hornet's birthday and somebody made a video. Enjoy.

Sac State is a trap game

I'm not saying we will lose, I'm just saying if we did, it wouldn't totally shock me. This is they prototypical trap game. Outside of against D-II Ft. Lewis, the Griz have yet to play a game where they looked solid all-around. They're coming off a big rivalry came with a ton of emotion. Odds are they're not going to take Sac State too seriously. Sac State idiotically scheduled their Homecoming against the Griz so they should be riding a little bit of something, right?

For most of this season, Sac State hasn't looked very good. They lost at Portland State 24-35 and at Weber State 7-26. In the one game the Hornets played at home, they looked great. They beat the normally formidable NAU 38-9. They have the athletes to put up some points.

There are two scenarios, the Griz come in and give us fans the gave we've been waiting for or they play down and live or die in another close one. I don't know if the Griz can pull out another close game. I see either a Griz blowout or loss.

Griz Volleyball faces best team in the Big Sky

The Montana Grizzlies Volleyball team faces the Sacramento State Hornets at 7:00 in the WAG tonight. Sac State came into this season as the favorite to win the conference. They're currently 15-3 overall and 4-0 in conference. The Griz aren't sitting quite as nice. They're 6-9 overall and 2-3 in conference. This matchup is looking a lot like last year's.

From MontanaGrizzlies.com.
Last year in early October Sacramento State made a visit to Montana under similar circumstances to this week. The Hornets were 18-4 and a perfect 6-0 in Big Sky Conference play, having won all six league matches in 3-0 sweeps.

This year Sac State is 15-3 and 4-0 in Big Sky play, with all four wins coming in three-game sweeps.

In 2006 Montana not only took a game off the Hornets, the first league team to do so, but pushed Sacramento State to a fifth game. Tied at 12-12 in game five, the Hornets produced three straight kills to put the match away.

"The similarities are the same every year when you talk about Sacramento State," Montana coach Jerry Wagner said. "They are coached by a fabulous coach, and they are always more consistent than you. The difference between last year and this year is I think they might be even better this year than they were last year.

"You've got to be more than at the top of your game to put yourself in position to challenge for a victory. Last year we were able to really come together and put an extremely hard-fought and consistent effort together, and that gave us an opportunity to have a breakthrough outcome against an exceptional opponent. We'll have to follow the same recipe on Friday night if we're going to have another opportunity."
I'm hoping this year's matchup compares to the '06 version as I'll be attending my first volleyball game of the season tonight.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 5

It wasn't here last week, but this weekly recap of Big Sky games is back for week 5.

Montana very unimpressive against WSU. It was a lot like the USC-Washington game. Both the Trojans and Griz were ranked number one but put up less than inspiring performances against decent yet unranked teams who wore purple and had school names starting with a W. I don't think the Trojans committed nearly as many penalties though.

Portland State beats Eastern Washington, 28-21. The Viking offense looked very strong in the win as they racked up 520 yards of total offense. Even so, it was a close game. The game ended when Portland State picked off a desperation pass in the end zone.

Sac State rolls over Northern Arizona, 38-9. NAU head coach Jerome Souers didn't give the Hornets much credit, saying "it was one of those games that whatever could go wrong, did go wrong." You know what, you got stomped. It wasn't just things going wrong. Sac State obviously played well.

Montana State rallies from 10-0 deficit to beat Idaho State. The Bobcats had a strong third quarter and Demetrius Crawford ran for 173 yards on 23 carries as the Bobcats' 40-20 win put the Bengals 0-2 in the conference.

Northern Colorado loses to Cal Poly, 56-21. What can I say? They got this losing thing down.

Castles in the Big Sky: Week 3

Portland State saves their season with a 35-24 win over Sac State. The Vikings probably went into this game the same way Michigan will go into their conference schedule. PSU will not get great playoff seeding but they can still win the conference and make the playoffs. Unlike the Wolverines, the Viks can still win a National Championship. It's not likely, but as a Cubs fan, I like to think anyone can win once they get in the playoffs.

Montana State kills Dixie State, 61-7. Nice job guys, nice job. Some people mark this as some sort of sign that MSU is fine and will be something of a contender. The win is what it is. If you're proud of a D-II shilacking, that's not good. I'm not saying the Cats will or will not be a factor in the 'Sky but the only message this sends is that they can blow out a team from a lower division. Good to know.

NAU falls to Appalachian State, 34-21. It would've been nice to see a Big Sky team get mentioned on SC for beating the giant-killers from Boone, but it didn't happen as the Mountaineers won their 17th straight game. It could've been worse. If NAU can keep it within two possessions, maybe the Griz can pull off a win.

Weber State blown out by Cal Poly, 47-19. The Weber State secondary allowed Mustangs quarterback Jonathan Dally to rack up Colt Brennan-esque numbers in the loss. The kid tossed 6 TDs on 328 yards.

Northern Colorado loses to San Diego, 49-13. This type of score was expected with the Bears coming off a huge loss to D-II Chadron State. On a positive note, they did find a running back. David Woods finished with 180 all-purpose yards.

Eastern beats UC Davis, 41-31. It wasn't Bengals-Browns but the Eagles and Aggies combined for almost 1,000 total yards. The Aggies had more yards and the Eagles had more points.

Idaho State trounced by Oregon State, 61-10. You know the deal. Big Sky team plays FBS opponent, Big Sky team loses by 30+ while the FBS team puts up huge numbers. Whatever pays the bills.

Sac State linebacker: we have the best D

Sacramento State linebacker Cyrus Mulitalo gave Kroy Biermann, Tyler Joyce and the rest of the Griz defense some bulletin board material when he discussed the Hornet defense with the SacBee.
"As a total unit, we should be one of the top defenses in the nation," said Mulitalo, a 6-1, 245-pound junior. "Definitely top in the league, easy."
This looks like he's touting and maybe even challenging his defense but in reality, this could place the burden on his offense. If the Griz see this and pin it up in the locker room, they'll have plenty of motivation to shut down the Hornets.

Big Sky Power Rankings: Griz sit at sixth.

According to this week's BSC Power Rankings, which are done by Kellis Robinett of the Idaho State Journal, the Griz are the sixth best team in the Big Sky Conference.

Normally I would think this is a total farce but the Big Sky Conference is all over the place this year. Just look at NAU's ranking and caption. While you're at it, check out Northern Colorado's as well.
3. Northern Arizona (8-7, 3-1) With a trip to Northern Colorado coming up, move NAU to 4-1.

9. Northern Colorado (2-14, 0-4) One RPI service ranks the Bears last among all Division I teams.
Well, in this year's BSC conference, guaranteed wins are a sure thing like Ohio State rolling over Florida was a sure thing. Tonight, NAU fell to UNC on a layup with ten seconds to play.

Most of the other rankings held true as Idaho State beat EWU, moving to 3-0 in conference, and Weber State beat Sac State. Weber State is now sitting pretty after wins on consecutive nights and a 5-1 record in conference play. It is kind of odd that WSU has played six games while some teams have only played three.

Griz basketball faces Sac State

Tonight the Montana Grizzlies take on Sacramento State in the Tree City as they look to win two of three on the road to start conference play.

The Griz are coming off a 74-71 loss to Eastern Washington. Winning two out of three on the road to start conference play would be great but imagine if we would've had a shot at 3-0. It'd be like starting off 20 meters down the track in a 100 yard dash seeing as the Griz only lost one game in Dahlberg last year. A road win over probably their biggest contender could have been very influential in deciding where the BSC tournament is hosted.

That game's over though and going into this game, the Griz come in looking once again like BSC contenders. They are ranked second on Idaho State Journal writer Kelis Robinett's BSC power rankings.

This doesn't say too much seeing as it's the second week of conference play and only one team has come out of it unscathed. This team is Weber State, who beat the Northerns and if NCAA Tournament selects were made today, ESPN says they'd be a 15 seed. Needless to say, the BSC is about as wide open as Joakim Noah's teeth.
Even though the Griz once again appear to be contenders, they are still looking for more consistent play. If there was a stat that measured the scoring differential about 5 minutes into the game, I'm guessing they dominate this useless stat like Mike Vanderjagt dominated FG accuracy. Yeah, it only counts if you make them/have the lead at the end of the game.

It seems as though the Griz have come out great and then seem to fade towards the end of the first half with the opposing team making a run and usually leading going into the break. Then, when the Griz should be coming out strong after the break, they fade a little bit more. The game is usually decided with somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes left in the game They either drop out of contention or make a run to turn it into a game. This sounds like an awful way to play the game.

Info on Sac State: they're 6-8 overall and 1-1 in conference play. They beat Northern Colorado but lost to Northern Arizona. Note of interest: They got trounced by Mamba Karl and Boise State by 33 while our Griz beat them by 4.

Week 4 football preview

  • This week's rankings: The Griz come in at #5 but talk about all things evening out; after their upset at Colorado MSU has plummeted out of the rankings faster than Brett Boone left the majors.
  • Not going to be a blowout?  The Griz have won all 11 meetings by a combined score of 419-174 but apparently the Hornets' defense has improved.
  • Interview with the Moose: Your schedule is always going to be hard if you're not very good.
  • Swogger will probably play. Hauck wouldn't admit it but he'll be in there. He practiced with the first team and I think all of us want to see regular TD hookups from the WSU-UW dropdown duo of Swogger and Chambers.
  • What Bobby did with his off week; and other questions.
  • Griz can't get to the QB. One sack in 8 quarters, ouch... or not.
  • GrizTracks Preview. It's not gonna be pretty. Their prediction: 31-3 Griz.