Montana will come into Husky Stadium on Saturday sporting a #9 pre-season ranking and an offense packed with All Big Sky talent. But like so many teams, they have barely played since the 2019 season, where they made a run to the FCS Playoff quarterfinals. In the spring the Grizzlies played just two games, crushing both Central Washington, 59-3 and Portland State, 48-7.
The offensive coordinator is Timm Rosenbach, a former All-American QB for WSU in the mid-late 80s. He later took over as QB coach and developed a couple Cougar quarterbacks Husky fans may remember: Matt Kegel and Alex Brink. As the Montana OC, he wants the Grizzlies to be a physical running team (83 rushing vs. 72 pass attempts last season), and this is partially evident by only listing two receiver positions on the depth chart. Somewhere Jimmy Lake is smiling in his RTDB hat. They will line up with 3 or 4 wideouts plenty, but that is an indication about the approach the Montana coaches are taking on offense. They line up in the pistol formation a lot, either running or utilizing play action and sending receivers to the flats. That said, this offense ultimately rests on the shoulders of their experienced quarterback, Cam Humphrey.
Let’s take a closer look at this Grizzly offense, starting with their star QB.
The Issaquah native is the star and leader of this Montana team. His first action was in 2019, relieving the injured starter. He was impressive with 761 yards and 6 touchdowns. He then won the starting nod in the two game spring season, and totaled another 472 yards and 5 touchdowns, completing 66% of his passes. He also rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown and threw just one interception. He distributes the ball well, with seven players making double digit receptions in each game.
Humphrey has a good build at 6-2 and 201 pounds, with enough athleticism to make throws on the run. If flushed from the pocket he can roll to his left, open his hips and flick the ball downfield. He is equally comfortable stepping up into pocket when facing pressure. The redshirt senior has been around the program a long time and has a knack for knowing where to go with the ball every play. He has a lot of command finding the open man and minimizing mistakes.
Worth mentioning is the offensive line, which returns four starters from the 2019 season that saw them generate 440 yards and 36 points per game. They are led by senior LT Conlan Beaver, a player they love to get in space to pave the way for the running backs. I don’t know if it is typical for an FCS team to have an offensive line with all 300+ pounders, but merely looking at the sizes on their depth chart, one would not automatically assume FCS.
Humphrey’s favorite target is the diminutive Gabe Sulser, who caught 8 balls for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. He will often be found over the middle on slants, and is a dependable target. The other primary outside threat is Sameul Akem who stands at 6-4 and put up similar numbers to Sulser the past couple of seasons. The big loss from this group was All -American Samori Toure who is now at Nebraska.
In the running back room, the Grizzlies suffered another unfortunate loss when recording setting Marcus Knight was injured and will be sidelined for now. He scored a school record 25 touchdowns in 2019, but will be replaced by the capable duo of Xavier Harris and Nick Otsmo. Harris is speedy and will run a traditional option-pitch play with Humphrey a few times a game. Both he and Otsmo will be featured heavily in the pass game as well, as they combined for 11 catches in two games last season.
Montana is a great team and should make a lot of noise in an absolutely loaded Big Sky this year, with 6 teams in the league having legit FCS Playoffs hopes. However, as is always the case in these matchups, they will have a significant physical disadvantage against the Huskies. In particular, it is always a challenge for FCS teams to match the speed of a power 5 team like Washington. This game should be no different. Cam Humphrey and Gabe Sulser may convert a few frustrating 3rd downs to keep drives alive, but Washington’s defense is in position to shut down Pac-12 teams, and if they bring the requisite energy, should have no problem doing the same to Montana.
How many points will Montana score?
This poll is closed
35 or more