It was 107 degrees in Queen Creek, Ariz., on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, during the Montana Grizzlies’ first football practice of fall camp, trainer J.C. Weida took a reading on the floor of Washington-Grizzly Stadium: 108 degrees.
So Adam Brzeczek felt more or less at home.
“It was a little toasty today,” said the Arizona native who transferred up to UM from Stanford last week.
Brzeczek joined holdovers Shay Smithwick-Hann and Trent McKinney and fellow newcomer Brady Gustafson as quarterbacks in UM’s August debut. Brzeczek didn’t get the reps of Smithwick-Hann or McKinney, but he’ll take what he can get.
“This is my first day in the offense,” said the freshman, who was listed at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds at Stanford, and 6-0 and 195 at UM. “I learned more out here today than I have in the last few days.
“Once we get out here, start running it and get live action, it really starts clicking. Just learning the signals and getting some experience with the offense is huge.”
That’s not to say it went all that smoothly for an offense that is mixing in new faces at receiver as well as QB. Josh Stuberg won a tip drill to pull down an interception on the team’s first 11-on-11 play at River Bowl; back in the stadium, Bo Tully jumped a route and picked off a pass as drills wound down.
In between those picks, the Grizzlies’ latest No. 37 – Jordan Tripp – deflected back-to-back passes by Smithwick-Hann.
It wasn’t good enough for first-year coach Mick Delaney, who has a talented if inexperienced bunch back from a team that went 11-3 in 2011.
“The enthusiasm, the energy was fantastic,” Delaney began. “I’m really happy with that.
“The execution on offense and just being able to operate – that was very poor today. But we’ll get better. We’ve got four quarterbacks who haven’t taken a snap but as I told them, there’s no time to say, ‘I’m young; I haven’t done it.’ ”
Smithwick-Hann, a Kalispell Glacier product, actually threw all of three passes last season. He also had some nice plays during the three hours of drills on Tuesday.
“On those one-a-day schedules it’s a long practice, but that’s when you can really get better,” said Smithwick-Hann. “You fight through that latter end of practice but… when we go long it only makes you better.”
At the end of 28 more practices, one or two of these QBs are going to play a lot for the Griz in place of suspended starter Jordan Johnson.
“For me personally, it’s an opportunity I’ve always looked for since I was little,” said Smithwick-Hann, whose dad Jim played tight end at UM in 1971-72. “But one of the biggest things that got me here was Ryan Fetherston telling me that you can’t be a Griz if you aren’t willing to compete every day.
“That’s something I look forward to; fighting for this quarterback position. There’s a lot of talent out here. We may be young but we’ve got great minds and we’re excited about it.”
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Brzeczek’s history with UM doesn’t go back as far, though he received a recruiting letter or two and remembers watching them play on ESPN.
His original college choices, however, were Brown of the Ivy League and Stanford. He walked on at Stanford but didn’t move far up the depth chart.
“It was a great experience – great teammates, great coaches – and what it came down to was the financial issues were a big problem for my family,” Brzeczek said. “We didn’t think we could swing it for four years, and I looked at other options.
“I was very interested in Montana because I’d seen them play before. They play hard and fly around.”
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The Griz flew around Tuesday despite the heat. The trio of new freshman receivers – Chase Naccarato, Ryan Burke and Taylor Walcott – all had flashes, as did the running backs. At the end Delaney had the rookies race 30 yards. Naccarato edged freshman running back Joey Counts in the final race.
“I really wanted (Naccarato) and Walcott to run but Walcott was cramping up a bit at end of practice. It was awful warm today,” Delaney said. “You’ve got to love a guy like Joey Counts, who is 238 pounds, getting out there. First one to jump out there and volunteer and I tell you, he was real close.”
QUICK KICKS: Gavin Hagfors, a redshirt freshman who came to UM as a running back, worked out with the tight ends Tuesday. … LB Addison Owen sat out the first day of drills. … P Stephen Shaw has to finish some paper work before he can join the team in fall camp. … The Griz go again at 2 p.m. Wednesday, though most the team was out on the River Bowl field well ahead of that time Tuesday. … The first two-a-day practices are on Sunday. The morning schedule is at 8:30 a.m. and the evening is at 7:45. Sunday’s late practice will include the Grizzlies’ first scrimmage.