After missing all of 2015 because of a knee injury, Montana's leader on the offensive line Ben Weyer will be out all of this season as well.
Griz head coach Bob Stitt confirmed the news at Monday's press conference, though he declined to comment further on the specifics of Weyer's latest leg injury. The senior center from Bozeman was hurt during UM's season opener against Saint Francis on Sept. 3.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder has a long history of knee injuries since joining the Grizzlies. His first came in 2014 when as a sophomore starting at guard, Weyer tore his PCL against Wyoming in the season opener. He played throughout that year, but then in August 2015 was injured during fall camp and required surgery.
Weyer's procedure last September aimed to fix two torn ligaments, the ACL and PCL, in his right knee as well as clean up damage to the joint's meniscus.
Lightning struck again late in the third quarter of Montana's first game this season. On a routine play, Weyer went down at the line of scrimmage clutching that same right knee. Though he jogged off the field after being down for a number of minutes -- to raucous applause from 26,000 fans at Washington-Grizzly Stadium -- the injury was worse than it appeared.
"Doctors took a look at him and he's gonna be out for the season," Stitt said Monday.
The Grizzlies held Weyer out of preseason full-contact scrimmages and limited his participation in fall camp in August.
Weyer had the option of petitioning the Big Sky Conference for a fifth year of eligibility after last season's injury. Such a hardship waiver may be requested when a student-athlete is misses the first half of their sport's season because of injury or illness, and has participated in either three or one-third of his or her team's total scheduled contests (whichever is greater).
Weyer's case would check both boxes for either the 2015 or '16 season should he attempt for a sixth year of eligibility. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2012. If Weyer petitioned to gain a medical hardship waiver after last year's injury remains unclear.
Robert Luke, now a junior, started all 13 games in Weyer's place last season, but it was junior Cooper Sprunk who has replaced Weyer so far this fall. Sprunk started against Northern Iowa on Sept. 10 in UM's second game and is projected to start again this Saturday when the Griz visit Cal Poly to start Big Sky play.
Stitt also said Monday that he expects to have senior running back Joey Counts back when the Griz host Southern Utah on Oct. 1 for homecoming.
Counts has not played this season while facing a DUI charge in Lake County stemming from a July arrest, his second arrest since last Halloween.
A Missoula County Attorney's Office petition to revoke a deferred sentence from his criminal trespassing misdemeanor conviction from last November has been delayed until this November.
Though the legal issues are still pending, it would appear the football coaching staff has punished Counts under a second Category II violation of the UM student-athlete code of conduct. That carries a suspension of 30 percent of the upcoming season, or 3 1/3 games in an 11-game schedule like Montana's this fall.
A third Category II violation, such as if Counts is convicted of the misdemeanor DUI, would mandate dismissal from the team.