Quarterbacks shine during Grizzlies' second scrimmage
Montana football coach Bobby Hauck wanted his quarterbacks to step up during the Grizzlies' second spring scrimmage. What Hauck wants, Hauck gets.
Jeff Disney, Craig Ochs and Justin Hartman all shined during the 60-play scrum in front of roughly 1,000 fans Friday afternoon at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The three signal callers combined to complete 24-of-27 passes for 366 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions on an afternoon when the offense as a whole made strides. During last week's first scrimmage, the three were a combined 21-of-35 for 176 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
"All three made progress and made a jump in their level of play, which is good news," Hauck said. "They are getting better and showed vast improvement today. Now, that doesn't necessarily give us any answer who is going to be the starting quarterback after spring. They raised their level of play in my mind - without watching video - equally today.''
Hauck said he is no closer to picking a starting quarterback, but said one might be selected following next week's final scrimmage in Polson.
"After today, right now, I couldn't do it, not this week,'' Hauck said. "There was improvement. If one of the guys makes that kind of improvement this next week that they made today, then that guy could be named the starter coming out of spring ball. I would say in regards to Jeff and Craig, when each of them tried to distance themselves, the other guy raised their level of play."
Disney, the former junior college standout, was an impressive 10-of-11 for 185 yards with a 47-yard scoring strike to junior wide receiver Levander Segars, who finished with six grabs for 95 yards.
Disney was particularly sharp during the second half of the scrimmage when the offense focused on third-and-long situations. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder from Covina, Calif., completed all four of his long third-down attempts for 109 yards, including the strike to Segars.
Early on, when the offense was trying to sustain drives, Disney connected with junior wide receiver Jefferson Heidelberger on a 41-yard completion that was helped by blown coverage. The drive ended with a 42-yard Chris Snyder field goal.
Ochs, the junior transfer from Colorado, completed 7-of-9 passes for 70 yards, including a 5-yard scoring strike to Heidelberger. Ochs' second completion, a short slant to Segars, went for 32 yards.
"Things were a little bit clearer for everybody,'' Ochs said. "This week of practice was invaluable. The offense is starting to take form. It still has a long way to go, though.''
Ochs engineered a nine-play, 50-yard drive that culminated with the strike to Heidelberger, who caught a scrimmage-high seven passes for 110 yards. On the touchdown, Heidelberger lined up in the slot and ran a quick out pattern.
"It's just part of our quick game,'' Heidelberger said. "Last scrimmage we hit 80 percent or better on those, I think. That's going to be something that's one main part of our offense. We're already so good at it. Last week, some things weren't clicking, but (the short passing game) is something we've had a handle on from the get-go.''
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ochs gave the crowd a bit of a scare on the second-to-last play. Defensive tackle Blake Horgan inadvertently hit Ochs, who was scrambling in the pocket. Ochs, who sustained three concussions at Colorado, dropped to the turf, drawing a sigh from the crowd.
"I was telling coach Hauck that's the first time I got hit in a long time,'' Ochs said. "It felt pretty good. Personally, if it were up to me, I'd like to be live in the scrimmage, but I know they won't do that."
"I got it out of the way, so hopefully that puts an end to the rest of the questions,'' Ochs added.
Hartman, who joined the team in January, completed all seven of his passes for 111 yards. The Great Falls Russell product found junior college walk-on transfer Mike Costanzo on a 47-yard scoring strike during the third-and-long plays.
Although Hartman had a strong outing guiding the second- and third-team offenses, the freshman appears headed for a redshirt season.
"I would say in a perfect world we'd redshirt Justin next year,'' Hauck said. "I don't think he's quite as far along as the other two are right now, even though he's done a nice job this spring.''
Sophomore running back JR Waller led the ground attack with 39 yards on eight carries. Waller broke off an 18-yard run and also hauled in a 12-yard screen pass. Freshman Turill Engelman rushed seven times for 21 yards, including an 11-yarder on his first tote.
The defense, which dominated last week's scrimmage, had its share of highlights as well.
Sophomore defensive end Lance Spencer registered a pair of sacks. Freshman defensive tackle Kerry Mullan recovered a fumble and tallied a sack.
Former Sentinel standout Chris Polhemus, who moved from safety to cornerback this week, had the defensive hit of the day when he sent running back Pete Hamill spinning through the air.
"I thought the hitting was good and we tackled fairly well,'' Hauck said. "I didn't think we had the emotion on defense that we had a week ago. We talked to the fellows about that. We said if you're going to play great defense we can't just go out and run through the motions. You have to execute your assignment and play with a lot of emotion and passion. We didn't really have that today.''
Notes: There didn't appear to be any new injuries to report, but lingering injuries kept many players on the sideline. Eight players with starting experience on defense watched: defensive ends Tim Bush and Ciche Pitcher, defensive tackle Jonny Varona, linebackers Adam Hoge and Joel Robinson, cornerback Vernon Smith, and safeties Kyle Scholle and Dave DeCoite. Linebacker Dustin Dlouhy also missed his second straight scrimmage. DeCoite and Robinson were the only two expected to participate. DeCoite suited up and went through drills, but watched the scrimmage in his pads and a baseball hat. Š Wide receiver Dane Oliver, offensive linemen Jake Pipinich and Cory Procter, tight end Ja'Ton Simpson were offensive players who sat out. Š Walk-on kicker Paul Cahill missed a 28-yard field goal try. Š The Griz are slated to practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday before the spring game next Saturday in Polson at 1:30 p.m.. Š Hauck gave the team Saturday and Sunday off to enjoy Easter.
FG Chris Snyder 42
Jefferson Heidelberger 5 pass from Craig Ochs
Levander Segars 47 pass from Jeff Disney
Mike Contanzo 47 pass from Justin Hartman
RUSHING - JR Waller 8-39, Turill Engelman 7-21.
PASSING - Jeff Disney 10-11-0 for 185 yards, Justin Hartman 7-7-0 for 11 yards, Craig Ochs 7-9-0 for 70 yards.
RECEIVING - Jefferson Heidelberger 7-110, Levander Segars 6-95, Tate Hancock 2-31.
Reporter Jon Kasper can be reached at 523-5247 or by e-mail at email@example.com.