Montana coach Mick Delaney says his Grizzlies will have to play their best game of the season to beat Montana State on Nov. 17 in Missoula. And he’s probably right.
And so Delaney and his coaching staff are spending their bye week focusing on health while working out some kinks. Their goal is to have all hands on deck -- refreshed and renewed -- by the time the Bobcats invade Washington-Grizzly Stadium next Saturday.
Montana has won two straight games for the first time this year, and played pretty well in the process. So is the bye coming at the wrong time for Montana? Not so, Delaney said Wednesday:
“The bye probably came at a perfect time for us. I know there are pros and cons of having a bye, especially when we’ve struggled to win two games in a row to keep the momentum going. But more importantly for us is to get healed up a little bit. We haven’t lost anybody other than Dan Moore, but we’ve got a lot of nicks and bangs and bruises. So we’ll go fast and short this week and see if we can’t get everybody completely healthy for our cross-state rivals.”
Moore is obviously the most important factor in that process. Moore was the scourge of the Bobcats in last year's game in Bozeman, when he rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.7 yards per carry in the Grizzlies' 36-10 win.
But Moore suffered a high ankle sprain against Eastern Washington earlier in the year and has missed five straight games. Though Delaney says Moore is "bound and determined" to play against the Bobcats, but he's still working to get healthy.
Other than that, Delaney says the Grizzlies are using their off-week to freshen up mentally. Delaney said he thought QB Shay Smithwick-Hann pressed a little bit in last week's win over Weber State, and that he's working to get refocused.
Delaney said his team won't focus on a specific game plan for the Bobcats until next week. In the meantime, Delaney says the team is trying to stay sharp and focus on its own systems.
The Bobcats will probably be favored to win in Missoula next Saturday, but if nothing else, the Griz have history on their side: Montana has won 22 of the last 26 Cat-Griz games, and has lost to the Bobcats just twice in the 26-year history of Washington-Grizzly Stadium (2002 and 2010).