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Young UM kickers show good 'pop'

Young UM kickers show good 'pop'

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Griz tracks

Week one for the Montana Grizzly football team came to an end on Friday with coach Joe Glenn pleased with the progress of his kickers, and the squad's overall work ethic.

The kicking and punting spots were areas of great concern entering fall camp. True freshman Chris Snyder is expected to handle the place-kicking duties, while senior Mike Reidy, who joined the team last spring, has emerged as the top punter.

"What's comforting is our kicker and punter are coming through," Glenn said. "That was such an unknown. We feel like those two guys are working hard and improving and have potential. They both have the pop you need."

Fans will get their first glimpse of Snyder when the Grizzlies hold their first scrimmage of the fall Saturday at 10 a.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

"I'd say the work ethic of the team is special," Glenn said. "I think they sense something special. They are working very hard."

Saturday's scrimmage will consist of roughly 80 plays. Glenn said the No. 1 offense won't go against the No. 1 defense as was the case during the spring scrimmages.

The No. 1 offense will go against the No. 2 defense and the No. 1 defense will battle the No. 2 offense. The third units also will square off.

"Even though we're not done with installation, we need a scrimmage to get a marking point," Glenn said.

As of now, it looks like Snyder and Dave DeCoite (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) will be the only true freshman activated for the season.

DeCoite, who's brother, Dan, is battling for the starting spot at middle linebacker, was recruited as a free safety, but has seen most of his reps at cornerback.

"(Dave) DeCoite will be a great special teams and role player in the secondary," Glenn said. "He gives us depth at corner."

Bumps and bruises: Left tackles Brian Pelc and Jon Skinner did not practice Friday afternoon. Skinner injured his left ankle and Pelc sustained a pulled groin. Freshman Dylan McFarland took the majority of the reps with the first-team offense at left tackle.

Wide receivers Randyn Akiona, Brock Sunderland and cornerback Demetrious Williams have returned to practice. All three missed time early in the week with minor injuries.

Jeff Shoate, who did not return to the Grizzlies this fall, posted a message on the "Grizzly Bulletin Board" on the University of Montana's official Web site. Shoate, who stayed in San Diego to be closer to his wife and child, said in the message he plans to play football at San Diego State.

"Now that I have the chance, I would like to say thanks to all my friends and teammates for a great year of college football," the message said. "Sorry I had to leave, but I'm here with my family."

He encouraged the secondary to "Keep doing your thang (show 'em that Portland game was a fluke last year)."

He also thanked secondary coach Dave Doeren, Glenn and the rest of the staff for being "understanding."

Shoate played last season as a true freshman and left spring camp as the No. 1 strong safety.

When it became clear Shoate wasn't coming back, the bulletin board was full of messages from Griz fans thanking him and wishing him luck with his family and future.

Around the Big Sky: Cal State Northridge defensive end Ramsey Venner was ruled ineligible by the school. Venner, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound transfer from Fresno State, was penciled in as a starter.

Former University of Montana quarterback Darren Rowell has been promoted from tight ends coach to wide receivers coach at Northern Arizona. Rowell joined NAU's staff last season. He takes over for Scott Criner, who has joined the staff of the XFL team in Las Vegas.

The Montana State Bobcats opened camp on Thursday with more new faces than old ones. Of the 90 player who reported, 47 are new to the program.

"These two days are love and wrap. We wrap an arm around them whenever they make a mistake," coach Mike Kramer said about breaking in the new players.

Reporter Jon Kasper can be reached at 523-5247 or by e-mail at jkasper@missoulian.com.

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