Griz Look Solid on Both Sides of the Ball in Second Spring Scrimmage

By DAVE GUFFEY

The offense showed improvement and the defense was once again stellar, as the University of Montana Grizzlies held their second scrimmage of 2015 spring drills Thursday evening in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The offense, which did not score a touchdown in UM’s first scrimmage of spring drills last Saturday, scored two tonight, and both cam via the passing game, and they also made two field goals, and the Grizzlies’ veteran defense registered a pair of interceptions and four sacks.

The first touchdown came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Makena Sims to redshirt freshman receiver Zach Hollenbeck.  The second TD throw was on the final offensive possession of the scrimmage –  a 3-yarder from Brady Gustafson to senior wide-out Ellis Henderson.

DT Caleb Kidder (Photo by Todd Goodrich, UM)

DT Caleb Kidder (Photo by Todd Goodrich,UM)

“It was a lot better today,” said head coach Bob Stitt.  “I was excited about the drives that we put together.  We had some 14, 15-play drives, and those are really going to take its toll on the defense.”

Senior kicker Daniel Sullivan scored the first points of the scrim, connecting on a 26-yard field goal, and later in the scrimmage was followed by senior Chris Lider booted a 30-yard three-pointer.  Sullivan and junior Harrison Greenberg each made their one PAT attempts following those two TD receptions.

Gustafson, a junior from Billings, was 11-of-22-1 for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Simis, a sophomore from Boise, Idaho was 7-of-9-1 for 45 yards and a score.   Eric Prater, a redshirt freshman from Lake Havasu, Ariz, went 5-of-11-0 passing for 57 yards.

“We are definitely excited about the way we are playing,” said Gustafson, who passed for a school-record 6,202 yards as a prep at Billings West High School.  “It’s not all there, but I mean we can see progress.  We see signs of success throughout the week of practice, and even in the scrimmage.  There are certainly some positive take-aways from tonight’s scrimmage.”

“They’re coming along,” Stitt said about the quarterbacks.  “As they get more reps they’re going to get more comfortable with the things that we’re doing.  Particularly Brady.  He had some nice checks, and he had one to score the touchdown to Ellis.  That was a great man-to-man check at the end of the scrimmage, and as I said earlier, we’re going to get better as we get more reps.”

The top receivers were redshirt freshman Caleb Lyons (5-22),  Hollenback (3-51, TD); senior Jamaal Jones (3-48) junior Chase Naccarato (3-26), redshirt frosh Reese Carlson (2-17), junior Ryan Burke (2-9), and Henderson 2-7, TD.

Junior halfback John Nguyen led all rushers with 11 carries for 66 yards, and he was followed by sophomore Lorenzo Logwood (13-38), and redshirt freshman Carl Johnson (6-26).

End Tyrone Holmes and tackle Caleb Kidder led the defense.  Kidder, a junior from Helena who missed last season with an injury, had a team-high 8 tackles, along with a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a pass deflection.  Holmes, a senior returning starter from Eagle Point, Ore., had 6 tackles, a pair of sacks, and a TFL.

Caleb is tougher than heck inside,” Stitt said. “And I am really impressed with all of the DBs, especially McKinley.  He can lock them down.  I’m excited about our offense being able to do something against that defense, because I know how good they are.”

Senior linebacker Connor Lebsock and senior safety Eric Johnson each had interception.  Other leaders for the “D” were sophomore linebacker Connor Strahm (6 stops), sophomore cornerback Ryan McKinley (6 tackles, 2 PDs), and redshirt freshman safety Manu Rasmussen (6 tackles).

“I was excited about the defense and the way they came out and got two take-aways,” Stitt said.  “We had some things going on offense, and the defense came right back with a turnover, and then they finished the scrimmage with a turnover.  So, I was really please on both sides, and we want good things happening on both sides and not be one-sided.”

The Griz will take a few days off for spring break and they resume practice on Monday, April 6.  UM’s annual Spring Game will be Saturday, April 11, in Carroll College’s Nelson Stadium, starting at 1:00 p.m.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS

PASSING:  Brady Gustafson 11-22-1 =- 105; Chad Chalich 1-2-0 = (-6); Eric Prater 5-11-0 =- 57; Makena Simis 7-9-1 =- 45. Totals: 24-44-2 = 201, 2 TDs.

RUSHING: John Nguyen 11-66; Lorenzo Logwood 13-38; Carl Johnson 6-26; Prater 2-9, Simis 1-2, Chalich 1-2; Gustafson 5-(-21). Totals: 39-for-122.

RECEIVING: Caleb Lyons 5-22; Zach Hollenback 3-51 (TD); Jamaal Jones 3-48; Chase Naccarato 3-26; Reese Carlson 2-17, Ryan Burke 2-9, Ellis Henderson 2-7 (TD), Josh Janssen 1-13, Nguyen 1-9, Tristen Clark 1-6.

DEFENSIVE LEADERS

TACKLES: Caleb Kidder: 8; Tyrone Holmes: 6; Connor Strahm: 6; Ryan McKinley: 6; Manu Rasmussen: 6; Kendrick Van Ackeren: 5; Connor Lebsock: 4; Jeremiah Kose: 4; Markell Sanders: 4.

SACKS: Holmes: 2; Herbert Gamboa: 1; Kidder: 1.

INTERCEPTIONS: Eric Johnson: 1 and Lebsock: 1.

PASS DEFLECTIONS: McKinley: 2; Kose: 1; Jake Dallaserra: 1; Mick Delaney: 1; Tyler Richtmyer: 1; Kidder: 1; Chris Parker: 1; Addison Owen: 1.

TACKLES FOR LOSS: Kidder: 1; Holmes: 1; Zach Peevey: 1; Van Ackeren: 1.

PUNTING

Steven Shaw: 2 for 32.5-yard average.

Chris Lider: 4 for 41.0-yard average.

SCORING

Daniel Sullivan, 26 Field Goal

Chris Lider, 30 Field Goal

Zach Hollenbeck, 14 pass from Makena Simis (Harrison Greenberg kick)

Ellis Henderson, 3 pass from Brady Gustafson (Sullivan kick)