NOTE: This is the first installment of a summer-long series projecting the Top 10 players at each position for the 2014 Big Sky Conference football season.
Jordan Johnson is back next year. As are Jordan Canada, Travon Van, Ellis Henderson, Jamaal Jones and several solid linemen. Offensively, the Grizzlies look well-stocked personnel-wise.
Turn back the clock to November of 2012. Montana had just lost to rival Montana State at home, which gave the Grizzlies a 5-6 record, their first losing season in a generation. It was then that coach Mick Delaney issued a bold promise, saying:
MISSOULA — Quarterback Jordan Johnson and linebacker Brock Coyle shared the Steve Carlson Award given to the most valuable player on the Montana football team.
Generally speaking the news was good for the Montana Grizzlies, although there were one or two reasons to raise an eyebrow.
This is certain: The team the Grizzlies face in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs will be a 10-game winner with a conference title under its belt.
Montana State must beat Montana for any chance to extend its season with a playoff berth. And even then it’s not a given.
First off, let's get this out of the way: Jordan Johnson says he's fine. Montana's junior quaterback didn't play in the second half of last week's 42-6 victory over Weber State because he felt sick, but Johnson said it wasn't a result of a hit he took during the game. He said wasn't feeling …
Rob Ash was struggling to wrap his head around how Montana State tripped over its own tail in a must-win game against Southern Utah, so he put off discussing the annual clash with archrival Montana.
Vernon Adams is the biggest star in the Big Sky Conference. And he shined brightly again Saturday in Eastern Washington’s 54-29 dismantling of Montana State.
VERMILLION, S.D. — For the third time in four weeks, the Montana Grizzlies showed they’re tough enough to take a punch and resilient enough to respond with a haymaker.
Garrett Safron had a game for the ages Saturday against Montana. But Jordan Johnson again showed why he is one of the best clutch players in the Big Sky Conference.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When you find yourself in a shootout, it helps to have a repeating rifle.
In August, Brad Daly talked about the challenges of assuming the role held previously by graduated Buck Buchanan Award winner Caleb Schreibeis on Montana State’s defensive line.
MISSOULA — The question persisted all week: Could Montana’s defense make enough plays to limit Vernon Adams?
Good teams find ways to win no matter the circumstances.
MISSOULA — Wheezing on life support as Cal Poly lined up for a dagger field goal, Montana hit a switch and promptly flipped its desperate situation.
DAVIS, Calif. — Nine minutes into Saturday’s game it was already apparent: UC Davis’ upset plans for 11th-ranked Montana were little more than California dreaming.
MISSOULA — What a difference a Jordan Johnson makes.
MISSOULA -- Cohesiveness can’t kick a field goal or catch a pass across the middle.