That Bob Stitt sure knows how to make a first impression.

The first-year Griz coach is part preacher, part river-boat gambler, part gunslinger.

And he has a message for Griz fans: Get used to it.

It's doubtful the Montana faithful will have any problem with his unique ways, not after a debut win that rivals any in Griz annals. The two Montana coaches who have brought home national championships -- Don Read and Joe Glenn -- both lost in their Griz debuts.

So, big picture, coach: What does Saturday's thrilling 38-35 win over four-time defending national champion and top-ranked North Dakota State mean?

"It's getting us on our way to where we want to be," Stitt said. "We're here to get the swagger back. We don't lose in our own stadium. Our kids fought today and we didn't win the national championship today; we won a ballgame. We're 1-0.

"We're going to keep working. I told the kids, where do we want to be in week 11. This is a piece of that whole journey. We're going to keep chipping away until we're a championship football team and this was a great start."

Add perspective to the list of Stitt's attributes.

Many must have wondered what the heck Stitt was thinking when he rolled the dice to go for a first down on fourth-and-4 at his own 45 on Montana's first possession with him at the helm. Six times the Griz forsook a punt to try to keep a drive alive; four times they succeeded.

"Everybody's got to get used to that," Stitt said. "We were four of six and going for fourth downs gives us a chance to win. People have to understand that when you convert those in the first half and keep those drives going, that's why we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

"Those guys had to defend 92 plays. When was the last time North Dakota State ever had to defend 92 plays? It's all a process. Everybody's got to stay calm and the defense has to go out and bail us out once in a while, but it will help us win ballgames."

With time winding down in the fourth quarter and the Griz trailing by a touchdown, Stitt elected to kick a field goal after the Griz had driven to the NDSU 2, drawing his team within 35-31 with 2:47 to play. That's putting a lot of pressure on your defense to get the ball back.

"We had three timeouts and our defense was playing well in the second half," Stitt said, taking the pulpit. "Again, you have to give yourself a chance to win it. That gave us a chance. You have to have faith. If you don't have faith, you're never going to win games like this, you're never going to have comebacks like this."

And if the Griz had been able to punch it in then to tie the game instead of kicking the field goal? Is there any doubt what Stitt would have called for the conversion try?

"Yeah, we already talked about it," Stitt said. "We were going to win it right there. There's no overtime. One play to beat the national champion, you're going to do it."

There will be bumps in the road; the Griz have a brutal schedule. But if Saturday is any indication, it'll be a fun ride.

"As soon as Joey ran into the end zone, my eyes started tearing up," Jamaal Jones said of Joey Counts' game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-a-foot with seconds left to play. "Those are the type of things you dream of, especially as a senior, especially with that being my last first game. That was picture perfect." 

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.