Blue Sky Ahead with Maroon Sprinkled In

Blog by “Voice of the Griz” Mick Holien

There just isn’t much choice than to bring out those old sports clichés when things aren’t going right.

You know some of the ones I’m talking about: Back to the drawing board; We’ll get back after it; One game or even one loss doesn’t make a season; We want to playing our best at the end of the season not the start; We just want to get better every week; We have to stop turning the ball over, committing penalties and start punting better.

But while some axioms often seem to make their way into interviews with coaches – most likely because they have answered the same questions from the same reporters week after week – most of them have not applied to the University of Montana football program in recent years.

When you lose a single conference game in four seasons and eight league games in this decade, that doesn’t leave you much room, or need for that matter, to try to explain just how the team is going to change its Modus Operandi and win the next week.

But I guess they just about all apply for the Homecoming game Saturday in Missoula against Sacramento State.

And because of the opening league loss at Eastern Washington, such things pretty much apply to the remainder of the season if the Grizzlies are to continue their string of 15 straight league titles and 17 consecutive playoff appearances.

But here’s the rub – That’s what they have been trying to do the last two weeks with mostly no success and still they’ve lost just by two at Cal Poly and really by just 2 in Cheney before the frantic no-time-0n-clock last-play debacle.

And by the way, since I haven’t seen it pointed out anywhere, why didn’t Renard Williams, who recovered the Justin Roper fumble, just fall down – game over – and not run the ball into the end zone?

What if, in a bizarre turn of events, he had the ball stripped and returned against the flow for a winning Grizzly touchdown? Stranger things have happened but I sure don’t fault him by any means by responding to a rush of adrenalin and heading for paydirt.

But that’s neither here nor there. The emotions of finally beating the Griz for the first time in his career and for Eastern to prevail for the first time in Cheney since 1991 sent him chugging for the meaningless Coup De Gras to set off the second celebration on the red turf.

I do question the fans and the band rushing onto the field. With everyone’s emotions high, it’s just asking for trouble to let that happen and there was plenty of badgering of opposing players.

There isn’t much doubt that the Grizzly mystique that has shadowed the Big Sky Conference since 1993 has been tarnished and there also is little doubt that there is as much parity in the circuit as has existed in several years.

I had to chuckle when I read Craig Haley’s Sports Network story that said Montana should stand 5-2 after the next month with four easier games coming up on the schedule.

Now honestly I don’t look any farther down the football schedule than the next game but this year I sure don’t see any givens at home or on the road.

And when your next opponent has never beaten you in 15 games and is coming off one of the biggest victories in its league history after beating a good Weber State team, I think I’d prefer to talk about the chances of being 2-2 Saturday night.

I’m not here to say the wheels of the Cadillac have fallen off, but there’s no question there’s a flat tire that has to be fixed.

I’m not ready to throw in the season’s towel either and again being a half-glass-full kind of guy I know there’s plenty of blue sky sprinkled with maroon in the near future.