Johnson Leads the Way in First Griz Scrimmage of 2013 Fall Camp

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

Quarterback Jordan Johnson played in three series and the result was three touchdowns, as the junior signal-caller highlighted the University of Montana’s first scrimmage of fall camp Sunday (Aug. 11) evening in front of approximately 1,000 fans in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Johnson and the number one offense entered the scrimmage in the second series, and went 80 yards in 12 plays, culminating with a terrific rush by junior halfback Travon Van, who broke several tackles and scored on a 7-yard scoring run.

In the fifth series of the night, Johnson returned to action, and engineered a 5-play, 35-yard scoring drive, as he connected with freshman tight end Jordan Harper on a 22-yard scoring pass.

The final offensive score came on Johnson’s third series, this time the offense started from the 6-yard line of the defense.  The offense needed three plays to score from there, as junior halfback Jordan Canada moved the ball to the 2-yard line on a short pass from Johnson, and he then scored on a run on this next play.

UM's Mascot - Monte. Photo by Austin Smith for MakeItMissoula.comJohnson was 8-of-10-0 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brady Gustafson (Billings West HS) was 5-8-1 for 44 yards; sophomore Trent McKinney was 2-of-2-0 for 14 yards; while junior Shaw Smithwick-Hann and true freshman Makena Simis (Capital HS, Boise, Idaho) were each0-1-0.

“He’s (Johnson) a smart guy and a football guy, besides being very talented,” said head coach Mick Delaney.  “He just has a command of the offense and can get guys where they belong.  He checked a few plays tonight to get us into a good play instead of running a bad play, and I think that’s one thing you see that he does really well that we struggled with a year ago with some young guys without a lot of experience.”

“I thought the first offense operated very well for the most part,” said Delaney.  “We had some ups and downs, and obviously we’re both (the offense and the defense) on the same team.  What the offense did well was that I think they converted first downs on four third and longs, and that’s when the defense needs to make stops so that they can get off the field.  We’ve got this heralded defense with 10 starters back, and they’ve got to start playing like starters.  You can’t let a team convert third-and-long four times in a game.

“On the other hand, I think Jordie (Johnson) has all of the rust off it seems like right now and he really managed the team well,” Delaney said.  “There’s going to be a heck of a battle for the number two quarterback (position). We need depth there, and the other guys struggled there at times and did some good things at times.

“I like our offensive line, and I’ve liked it since day one,” Delaney said.  “I think they are big, strong, and physical.  We had three starters who weren’t in there tonight (because of injuries) but some guys stepped in up tonight.  I thought the two Hines brothers (Jordan plays guard and Logan plays center) really did a nice job.”

The final score of the evening came on a 45-yard interception return by true freshman Connor Strahm (Sheldon High School, Eugene, Ore.), who picked off a pass by Gustafson.

Sophomore halfback Joey Counts gained 29 yards on 7 carries, whole Canada had 3 totes for 7 yards, and Van just had one carry – but it was for a 7-yard TD.  Senior wide receiver Cam Warren had just one catch, but his 51-yard diving grab set up Van’s scoring run.

“I thought our run game was pretty darn good tonight,” Delaney said.  “We’ve got to run the ball, and I thought we had three guys do that well August 11, 2013 tonight.  Our bread-and-butter is going to be run the ball and play-action pass, and both of those areas I thought were very good.”

“Then again, defensively we’ve got to play the run and play-action pass better,” Delaney said.  “I thought we did a good job covering deep tonight.  Our corners and safeties did a nice job down the field, and we always had a guy in pretty good position coverage-wise all night long.  That’s puts us way ahead of a year ago when we had opposing receivers running free and uncovered.”

Sophomore tackle Caleb Kidder led the defense with 5 tackles.  Redshirt freshman end Zach Peevey (Hellgate HS) had 3 sacks and a tackle for loss.  Senior linebacker John Kanongata’a had 3 tackles and a stop for a loss.

Once again the Griz struggled with their kicking game.  UM’s three kickers went a combined 5-of-11 on field goal attempts ranging from 23 to 45 yards.

“It (the kicking game) was atrocious,” Delaney said.  “That’s unacceptable.  The kickers are no different than the left guard or the right defensive tackle or a safety – they’ve got to be accountable.  We’ll run the ball on fourth down if they can’t kick the ball.  We’ll keep switching it around until someone steps forward and takes the job.”

SCRIMMAGE # 1 STATS

SCORING PLAYS

Travon Van 6 run (Chris Lider kick)

Jordan Harper, 22 pass from Jordan Johnson (Ben Worst kick)

Jordan Canada 2 run (Worst kick)

Connor Strahm, 45 interception return

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Joey Counts 7-29, Treshawn Favors 5-7, Jordan Canada 3-7, Tra Van 7, John Nguyen 3-4, Shay Smithwick-Hann 1-6, Trent McKinney 1-(-4), Makena Simis 3-3, Brady Gustafson 3-(-1).  PASSING: Jordan Johnson 8-10-0 – 119; Smithwick-Hann 0-1-0– 0; McKinney 2-2-0 – 14; Gustafson 5-8-1 – 44; Simis 0-1-0 – 0.  RECEIVING: Jordan Harper 2-35; Kevin Berland 1-6; Nguyen 2-18; Gavin Hagfors 1-9; Van 2-17; Canada 2-16; Noah Scarver 1-4; Cam Warren 1-51; Marq Rogers 3-31.  PUNTING: Shaw 3-54.3 avg.

DEFENSE: TACKLE LEADERS: Caleb Kidder-5; Matt Hermanson-3; John Kanongata’a-3; Tucker Schey-3; Connor Strahm-3; Kenderick Van Ackern-3; Justin Whitted-3.  SACKS: Zach Peevey-3; Jesse Ginn-1; Ryan Johnson-1.  TACKLES FOR LOSS: Kanongata’a 1 and Peevey-1.  INTERCEPTIONS: Strahm.

This week’s schedule (Aug. 12-18):

Monday, Aug. 12: 1-a-day schedule.  Practice begins at 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 13: 2-a-day schedule.  Practices start at 8:30 a.m. and at 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 14: 1-a-day schedule.  Practice begins at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 15: 2-a-day schedule.  Practices start at 8:30 a.m. and at 7:45 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 16: 1-a-day schedule.  Practice begins at 2:00 p.m.

Saturday; Aug. 17: Scrimmage at 10:10 a.m.

Sunday: Aug. 18: Off.

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