MISSOULA — Drake is coming to town this weekend. Not the rapper, though, the FCS football team.
Drake — a private Division I university in Des Moines, Iowa — went 7-4 last year. Like Montana, Drake also beat Valparaiso last season. The Bulldogs won their contest, 38-13, and the Grizzlies won their game, 45-23.
Drake plays in the FCS Pioneer League — a 10-team conference made up of non-scholarship programs. Montana head coach Bobby Hauck believes the Bulldogs aren't to be overlooked.
"Drake, we're well aware of what teams in their league have done to teams in our league the past couple years," Hauck said Tuesday. "Youngstown (State) got beat by Butler last week out of their league at Youngstown, so we're well aware of that."
Hauck's referring to how San Diego went to Northern Arizona last year in the FCS playoffs and trounced the Lumberjacks, 41-10. And in 2016, San Diego topped Cal Poly in the playoffs, 35-16.
But enough about the past. No. 14 Montana and Drake kick off on Saturday at 1 p.m. on SWX Montana. Here are five things to watch during Saturday's game, listed in no particular order:
The Grizzlies can only go up from their paltry run-game efforts last week. Running backs Adam Eastwood and Alijah Lee combined for just 19 yards rushing against Northern Iowa's defense. Junior quarterback Dalton Sneed's 58 yards on the ground boosted Montana's numbers.
Lee and Eastwood have both attended Division I FBS schools — Washington State and San Diego State, respectively — so their talent isn't in question. It's just whether they can find the holes to run through.
Intensity from Drake
Drake is getting a redo on its start to the season. The Bulldogs were midway through the first quarter in their game against Division II William Jewell when a storm cell moved through the Midwest that ended up canceling the game.
Due to NCAA rules, any statistics from the game are not to be counted and the game is marked down as a no contest.
The Bulldogs are likely to be chomping at the bit to get this one going, so watch for them to come out of the gate ready to go.
One of the biggest storylines this week is that Montana didn't have any film to watch from this season on Drake since the Bulldogs' game was washed out.
Because of that, Montana's coaches will need to make on-the-fly adjustments to what they see from Drake.
"Film is everything in our world, whether it's practice film or game film, whatever, to get things figured out," Hauck said Tuesday.
Four pass interference penalties were called on Montana last Saturday — one by sophomore cornerback Lewis Cowans, one by senior safety Reid Miller, one by junior cornerback Justin Calhoun and one by sophomore cornerback Dareon Nash. Redshirt freshman safety Robby Hauck also drew a flag for a late hit in the fourth quarter.
There were four other penalties called on Montana in its game against Northern Iowa, two holding penalties, a false start and an offside.
Look for Hauck's disciplined team to clean up some of that stuff.
Hauck and his team were happy with the win, but as the oldest cliche in the book goes, there's always something to work on.
"There's a whole litany of things. We can give you an hour clinic talk if you wanted to but neither one of us have that much time. We just need to get better," Hauck said Tuesday. " ... We need to play a little cleaner down the field. We need to challenge some of the routes a little better. Just general things. There's always footwork cleanup to be done and improvement to be made."
In addition to those five things, here are five key stats to know:
0-0: Montana and Drake have never played before.
3: This game is just the third time the Grizzlies have played a team from the Pioneer League. Montana topped San Diego in a snowstorm playoff game in 2014 and beat Valparaiso last season.
13: A total of 13 Grizzlies started in their first game at Montana last week — quarterback Dalton Sneed, receiver Samori Toure, tight end Colin Bingham, running back Adam Eastwood, offensive lineman Conlan Beaver, center Cody Meyer, offensive lineman Dylan Eickmeyer, offensive lineman Colton Keintz, linebacker Dante Olson, defensive lineman RJ Nelson, defensive lineman Reggie Tilleman, safety Robby Hauck and safety Gavin Robertson.
14: The Grizzlies skyrocketed to No. 14 in the STATS FCS Top 25 after holding off a late Northern Iowa comeback last week. Northern Iowa was ranked No. 13 last week and Montana was barely in the rankings at No. 24. Montana moved up 10 spots in the poll, marking the biggest upward move of any ranked team.
81: Wins for Bobby Hauck as a head coach at Montana. He needs four more wins to match Don Read's program record of 85 wins and five more to surpass him.