MISSOULA — Montana junior Kordell Pillans played multiple spots on the offensive line before joining the Griz: right guard, right tackle and left tackle.
The junior college transfer had been at right guard since the spring and moved to left guard early in the season. He made his first two starts for the Griz the past two weeks at left guard as he filled in for starter Angel Villanueva. On the left side of the line, he's more involved with protecting the quarterback's blindside.
The 6-foot-6 Pillans has played in six of eight games, including all four conference games. He's continuing to work himself into being a regular contributor for the Griz and is already down to 310 pounds after he came to Montana at 340 pounds.
Pillans sat down with 406mtsports.com to talk about his first season:
Q: It's been a cold few days here (in Missoula). But how does this weather compare to Kodiak, Alaska?
A: It’s actually a lot better there. It’s like 50 degrees up there (Editor’s note: it was 47 degrees on Tuesday). It’s south-central Alaska, so that keeps it a little bit warmer. Plus, it’s an island, so the water keeps it warm. It doesn’t ever really get this cold. When it does, it’s pretty rare.
Q: You transferred here in January, so how did last winter compare?
A: It’s the worst winter I’ve ever been. It’s kind of funny because I’m from Alaska and the first winter in Montana is the worst one I’ve went through.
Q: So, biggest misconception people have about Alaska when they find out you’re from there?
A: It’s not so bad up here because people live in the cold, but back when I was in Phoenix all the time, they were like, ‘Oh, man, you grew up in an igloo?’ Unfortunately, I didn’t. Might have been fun. But I had a house.
Q: In this weather, (coach) Bobby (Hauck) preaches running the ball, which you guys did Saturday. How crucial is that to having success the rest of the year?
A: It’s going to be really important. We got to keep running the ball and get better at and keep getting more dominant. We got guys like Angel (Villanueva) and Cy (Sirmon) that emphasize it every day that we got to get better at it and keep working and keep improving there. It’s going to be really important. I think this group’s up to the challenge.
Q: Do you feel it when you start to wear teams down as the game goes on, like Saturday?
A: Yeah. That’s our goal going into every game, go in there and work to wear them down, keep grinding them down, keep running the ball.
Q: What sort of attitude does it take as a guard to win the line of scrimmage?
A: You got to be nasty. You got to do that every play.
Q: You’ve made two consecutive starts now at left guard, so how does this level of competition compare to junior college?
A: Junior college, you’ll play a guy who’s really good and then the next week you’ll play some guy that isn’t. It’s an obvious difference. Here, you’re playing with a group of guys that are great. Everybody is great. And then you’re playing against other guys who are good. Nobody that we’re going to be playing against is a bad player. So, that’s the big difference between here and junior college is you’ll have some kids that shouldn’t really be playing as much there.
Q: What do you feel you’ve picked up the most on since joining the team in the spring?
A: Just the knowledge of the game and the knowledge of my position.
Q: What are the main areas you’re still working to improve at left guard?
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A: Just little basic technique things, trying to get those better and working with these guys every day trying to get better at that.
Q: One of the things you talked about before the season was getting in better playing shape. Where are you at with that?
A: Right now, I’m about 310-312. Getting down there. Just keep it going. I’m going to try to get down to 305, 300. Just going to keep grinding in the weight room and out here, and I’ll make it there pretty quickly.
Q: Some fun ones to close out. It’s Halloween week, so are you a fan of the Halloween holiday?
A: Yeah, it’s fun. Just go out and eat some candy and dress up. It’s an O-lineman’s dream holiday.
Q: Any favorite Halloween costumes you've dressed up in?
A: When I was 4 or so, I was a firefighter. Great costume.
Q: Are you a fan of horror movies?
A: Yeah, I love them. If I get a chance to watch them, I will. They’re a lot of fun. I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what my favorite one is, but I love watching horror movies.
Q: What’s your go-to music?
A: I listen to everything. A lot of country. A lot of rock.
Q: Have you been to any concerts?
A: This last year, when I was down in Phoenix, I went to a Post Malone concert. I’m a big Post Malone person. Big Post Malone fan. So, there’s that.
Q: Do you have any talents outside of football?
A: Not really. Hunting, fishing, but those aren’t really talents.
Q: Those are big here. Have you gotten to do any of those since you came here?
A: Unfortunately, I haven’t. All my rifles are back home in Alaska. I usually get on the boat with my dad and go fishing. The only time I’ve been doing that is when I was back home. Wish I had more time to do it here.
Q: Why jersey No. 71?
A: I wore No. 74 way back in the day. I tore my MCL Sept. 17, (2017), so I was like, ‘I can’t go back with that number.’ So, I was just shopping for numbers pretty much. I just landed on 71. I like it. I had a good year with it, and so I stuck with it. I just like the number.
Q: Lastly, what’s like been like playing for Bobby?
A: He’s awesome. He’s an amazing coach. Amazing person outside of the field. Love it. It’s been a lot of fun here so far.