The temperature went up in Missoula and so did the intensity at Griz fall camp on Friday as Montana sported shoulder pads for the first time this season at practice No. 3.
Montana saw another day of steady improvement over the previous two days with big plays once again highlighting the practice on both sides of the ball as the coaching staff continues to install the playbook.
“It was good today, it was pretty physical, and I liked what I saw,” said head coach Bobby Hauckafter practice.
“It was fun to hear the pads cracking a little bit. They got after each other pretty well. The first team period was a little too much touch football, but they got after it after that.”
Entering the fifth overall day at fall camp, and with the heat topping the 100-degree mark toward the end of practice, today’s session was as mentally taxing as it was physically for the Griz.
Taking a page from the U.S. Armed Forces playbook, Hauck embraced the heat and work rate of the team today as he and his staff prepare the Griz for the long season ahead.
“You have to be able to focus when you’re tired, and it’s something not many people can do. It’s something our military trains extensively in that area. I think that’s where teams break down. They get tired, they get fatigued, and they don’t execute. And I think that’s where it shows up is in the fourth quarter of games,” said Hauck.
The dogs that are Montana’s defensive front seven were unleashed during the three team runs with aggressive play calling during today’s practice. Once again, some young Grizzlies turned heads with big defensive plays.
“We had some pressure in today. We wanted to see how they timed it up and if they could win one-on-one against the offensive line and they were pretty successful doing that,” said Hauck.
Standing at 6-4, redshirt-freshman RJ Nelson has the length to disrupt plenty of passing lanes. He did just that again today, getting full extension to knock-down his second pass from the line of scrimmage in as many days while pursuing a quarterback.
David Shaw, who is also an imposing figure at 6-5, also blocked a pass while the defense put the pressure on during fourth quarter red zone work.
Sophomore cornerback Lewis Cowans also picked off a pass late in the practice and returned it for a would-be touchdown.
The offense was not to be shut out of big plays, however. Humphrey showed off his arm strength later in the afternoon, hitting tight end Matt Rensvold in full extension on a post route for a 30-plus yard gain.
The Grizzly rushing game got a workout as well at practice three, with Alijah Lee making nice gains, highlighted by a 20-plus yard burst off left tackle late in the day. San Diego State transfer Adam Eastwood also saw plenty of touches as the Grizzly offense worked through situational phases.
Montana returns to the practice field at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon for the fourth practice of fall camp. The team will once again take the field in shells before suiting up in full pads on Sunday.