After a bad day, and especially at spring football drills, you don’t go back to the drawing board.
But you certainly go back to the film room.
So Tuesday will be spent breaking down why the Grizzlies’ offense moved the ball so much better on Monday than during their first scrimmage two days before.
“Not as good as Saturday,” Legi Suiaunoa, the Montana Grizzles’ defensive line coach, said of Monday’s practice at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. “We had some runs creased.
“I don’t know if it was a little bit of complacency after the scrimmage – patting themselves on the back a little bit. The guys are working hard but definitely, today, we’ve got to check film. We had some problems that have to get fixed.”
The Griz were in full pads again Monday, and the offense did have the better moments in a lively practice that ended with the offense having first-and-10 near midfield. The script called for three final plays: Either the defense held or the offense got in field goal range.
On third-and-7, quarterback Trent McKinney scrambled to the right and ran for over 20 yards down the west sideline. He avoided a fast-closing Tyrone Holmes and got out of bounds ahead of linebacker Jordan Tripp, who kept running, cursing, up the players’ tunnel.
“Miscommunication,” said Suiaunoa. “The end … went inside. Obviously we had some wrong people doing the wrong things. Trent had an alley and made the play.
“And obviously the offense came back strong, with a vengeance. They wanted to run the ball and did some things. But we’ve got to be able to respond. We’ve got a good chance to be a really good defense, but we can’t be inconsistent.”
The end offset some fine plays by the defense, including several by the men up front like defensive tackles Caleb Kidder and Tonga Takai and defensive ends Derek Crittenden, Zach Peevey and Holmes. They’re big up front, and talented, and it certainly showed on Saturday.
“It’s good that we’ve had – at least some of us – a couple years playing together,” said Alex Bienemann, a senior defensive tackle who had a strong Saturday but got banged up and sat out Monday’s practice. “The chemistry at this point – D-line wise, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody else in the country is, position-group wise.
“Obviously there’s a lot of ability, too, and that helps, but I think our ability just to play with and off each others skills are starting to come through.”
Ryan Johnson, a redshirt freshman defensive end from Vancouver, Wash., made a couple plays Monday; on Saturday Peevey knocked down a couple scrimmage passes. Takai made his presence known by clearing the lanes for middle backer Kelsey Lippert – on the field more because Brock Coyle also sat out Monday’s practice – to make hits.
They just need to do every down in front of their task-master defensive coaches. They saw too many long runs by TraVon Van, Joey Counts and Jake Elder on Monday.
“They had a good day on Saturday,” Suiaunoa said. “They played well and they played together – I thought that was the biggest thing in terms of that front seven. And today for one reason or another we weren’t all on the same page. So we need to get some things fixed.”
* * *
Kidder wears 44, which was willed to him by Tripp when the latter was awarded the No. 37 jersey at the outset of last season.
Kidder’s number stands out in the trenches, especially at defensive tackle. The true sophomore out of Helena is apparently done getting reps at defensive end.
“Gained too much weight,” said the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, who doesn’t seem to mind lining up inside. “I like D-tackle. I like wherever the coaches put me, as long as I get on the field.”
* * *
The Grizzlies had originally announced four scrimmages this spring but since the NCAA only allows three, there won’t be one Friday.
That will be a normal (closed) practice inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and the last one before UM goes on spring break.
QUICK KICKS: UM coach Mick Delaney also moved Wednesday’s practice back from 8:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. ... Receiver Taylor Walcott made some nice catches on long throws from Shay Smithwick-Hann – a 50-yarder – and McKinney. … Jordan Johnson, who has a sore hamstring, had few reps but threw a couple sharp completions late in practice. … Zach Gratton intercepted a Brady Gustafson pass late Monday, then had the ball jarred loose by receiver Kevin Berland. … Safety Herbert Gamboa had several nice defensive plays in run support Monday. … Butte’s Jake Dallaserra, a receiver last spring, has switched to safety.