Griz Host First Scrimmage of 2014 Spring Drills


The University of Montana Grizzlies held their first scrimmage of 2014 spring drills today (Saturday, March 22) on a brisk morning in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and head coach Mike Delaney was pleased with what he saw, so he even ended the session a little earlier than anticipated.

The Griz worked on goal-line situations, different phases of their run and pass game, and on special teams with a major emphasis on field goal kicking, in the situational scrimmage which lasted a little more than an hour-and-a-half.

There were a few touchdowns scored in the opening portion of the scrimmage, which was a first-and-goal drill.  The touchdown in the goal-line drills included a 2-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Jordan Johnson to sophomore tight end Jordan Harper; a 1-yard run by quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann; and a 3-yard run by redshirt freshman Treshawn Favors.

The other scoring play was a 12-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to senior halfback Jordan Canada.

One of the big questions going into spring drills was how would the Grizzlies replace their outstanding three senior linebacker, who were all named to the all-league team a year ago.  Delaney said he thinks UM’s young group of linebackers are making very good progress.

Included in that group of linebackers is junior Jeremiah Kose (Oceanside, Calf.) who had an early scrimmage highlight, picking off a Johnson pass in a “skelly” drill.  Kose had a promising start for the Grizzlies last season, but suffered a season-ending injury and played in only two games.

“Oh yeah, that’s always good, unless you’re the quarterback,” head coach Mick Delaney quipped about Kose’s interception.  “If you’re the quarterback you’re not too happy about it.  That’s an area people are talking about – the linebacker area.  I am really happy with our six guys who are playing there.  They are guys who have played some, but not a lot, but they’re going to be good football players.

(Junior linebacker) Connor Lebsock (from Billings) is banged up a little bit and did not go today, but the two freshmen, Tucker Schye (Malta) and Connor Strahm (Eugene, Ore.) are doing a nice job, and (junior Hebert) Gamboa just gets better every single day,” Delaney said.  “And then Kose and (junior) Kendrick Van Ackeren are also doing a really nice job.”

Delaney said one of the priorities this spring is to establish a place-kicker.  Junior Chris Lider, and sophomores Harrison Greenberg and Ben Worst are the three players competing for that job.  Worst started the last 11 games of the 2013 season, and made 9-of-17 field goal tries.  That trio went a combined 10-of-17 (58.8%) in field goal attempts in today’s scrimmage.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Delaney regarding the competition for the place-kicking job.   “We are going to try to find a kicker by the end of spring, and say ‘okay,’ that’s what we’ve got, and that why were doing more than usual in that area.  We got some heavy competition there, and we’ll see what happens.”

Delaney said that they ended the scrimmage early for a couple of reasons.

“Well, first of all we only had six offensive linemen who could go, with another seven standing on the sideline who were dinged up enough that we held out today,” Delaney said.  “And second, I watched every single play, and I thought we got out of it what we needed, and why keep it going?  I felt like we accomplished everything that we had set out to do.”

Next week’s practice schedule

Monday, March 24: Practice #6, 3:15-5:15 p.m.

Wednesday, March 26: Practice #7, 3:15-5:15 p.m.

Friday, March 28: Practice #8, 4:15-6:15 p.m.

March 29-April 6: Spring Break.  Tuesday, April 8: Practice #9, 7:00-9:00 p.m.


RUSHING – John Nguyen 3-20, Favors 3-8, Canada 2-3, Travon Van 1-1, Austin Spring 2-4, Johnson 1-10, Smithwick-Hann 1-1, Brady Gustafson 1-(-8).

PASSING – Johnson 6-11-1 – 52; Smithwick-Hann 5-8-0 – 28; Gustafson 3-4-0 – 19; Makena Simis 0-2-0 – 0.

RECEIVING – Chase Naccarato 2-15, Canada 2-31, Van 1-4, Favors 1-9, Nguyen 2-13, Austin Carver 2-10, Jamaal Jones 1-2, Nico Graham 1-5, Cooper Sprunk 1-10, Harper 2-2.

FIELD GOALS–Ben Worst – Good: 32, 35, 37, 36; miss: 34.  Chris Lider – Good: 34, 36, 37; miss: 32, 34, 36.  Harrison Greenberg – Good: 34, 34, 36; miss: 32, 37, 36.


TACKLES: Tonga Takai=3; Derek Crittenden=2; Kendrick Van Ackeren=2; Ryan Johnson-2; Zach Vis=2; Nate Bradley=1; 2-Ryan McKinley=1; 51-Tucker Schye=1; Joshua Dennard=1; Mick Delaney=1. 

PDS: Nate Harris=1; Zach Peevey; Connor Strahm.

SACKS: Zack Wagenmann=1; R. Johnson.


INTERCEPTIONS: Jeremiah Kose=1.

Numerical Roster (PDF)