Subscribe for 17¢ / day
Bob Meseroll mug

As frightening as this sounds, Bob Stitt has a vision of 26,000 Will Ferrell impersonators on their feet clanging cowbells at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

As if one Will Ferrell isn't frightening enough.

Before you send the men with straight jackets to corner the Griz coach, realize he was speaking metaphorically.

The subject of his "Saturday Night Live" reference was redshirt freshman receiver Jerry Louie-McGee, a ready-for-prime-time player.

Louie-McGee turned in another performance Griz fans have come to expect just four games into the season: nine catches, 118 yards.

But unlike last week when Louie-McGee caught a Griz-record 21 passes, the Montana coaching staff was much more creative in how he was used. Take away Louie-McGee's 61-yard TD catch last week, and he gained just 4.7 yards a catch on his other 20 receptions on a succession of bubble screens.

This week, Louie-McGee was as dangerous without the ball as he was with it.

For instance, the Griz faked a fly sweep to Louie-McGee in the second quarter and tossed a short pass to John Nguyen on a wheel route. The defense bought the fake and Nguyen dashed 28 yards for a score.

"We felt like they might get very aggressive to try and stop Jerry," Stitt explained. "When you've got a weapon like that they have to be aggressive and get toward the line scrimmage. We've got good receivers and those guys were getting open and getting some big plays."

The creativity used in getting Louie-McGee the ball made the Griz far less predictable this week.

"It's fun to get him the ball any way you possibly can," Stitt said. "That's all I've heard since the first couple games. 'More Jerry, more Jerry.' It's kind of like more cowbell. I think every time he touches it everybody ought to act like Will Ferrell and get the cowbell going, a little Blue Oyster Cult. They want more Jerry? We'll keep finding more ways of getting him the ball."

Now that Louie-McGee is known around the Big Sky Conference, his value as a decoy will only increase. 

"It's huge," Stitt agreed. "When a defensive coordinator looks at a guy like that, you'd better stop him. Then when you have to over-play to stop Jerry -- and I still think he had 100 yards in the first half, don't know what he had on the game -- he's big for the team. That's what it's all about. It's about the team having success because you've got a superstar player there that they've got to stop."

But using Louie-McGee as a decoy issn't always predetermined. Quarterback Brady Gustafson surveys the defense and takes what's there.

"It just happens that way," Stitt said. "The play is there and the quarterback does a great job of, 'Hey it's not there, so we're gonna do this or check to somebody else.' Brady's got things going on all the time that you don't know as a fan. They take Jerry away and he's gonna go back to James; he's got a skinny post to James. That's fun. When you get a quarterback that can really grasp this and go, it's tough to stop."

That's James as in James Homan, a junior transfer who came into the game with two catches on the season. Saturday he had six for 103 yards and a touchdown.

"Jerry's a great athlete, great player," Homan said with his soft Texas twang. "They've got to be worried about Jerry Louie-McGee. When they do that, other people have got to step up, and today I tried."

It might be someone else next week, or it might be Louie-McGee having another record-setting day. The point is, opposing defenses will be guessing.

And if Stitt has his way, they'll go home with the clang, clang, clang of Jerry Louie-McGee ringing in their ears.

Sports editor Bob Meseroll can be reached at 523-5265 or at bmeseroll@missoulian.com.

0
0
0
0
0
You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

Assistant News Editor