April 13, 2012
As the Griz prepare for their spring game, GoGriz.com caught up with first-year offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach and talked about potential starters and his take on the offense so far this spring.
Coach Rosenbach: "I think you start with Sam Gratton. He's been unable (he's seen limited action this spring because of an injury) to practice at 100 percent, but his leadership is still there which is very important. He's been able to do a few things in individual drills the last few days, which is good so that I can get a good idea of what he's all about, other than just what I have seen of him on film from last year." Gratton, who was honorable mention All-Big Sky, stats from last year: *36-465-12.9=3 TDs. *=Tied for the team lead in 2011.
"Carver's got a lot of experience, and he's becoming a better route runner. That has been his main point of emphasis this spring." Carver's stats last season: 11-140-12.7= 1 TD.
"Sean Haynes is a good player for a young guy, whose got some speed and he can stretch the field vertically. He has to learn to become more consistent, but that will come with experience through fall camp next year. We are excited about him." Haynes did not have a reception last season. Saylor's 2011 stats: 10-110-11.0 0 TDs.
"Cam Warren is not very big in physical stature, but he's consistent and does a nice job for us. He seems to have pretty good mental connection with (quarterback) Jordan Johnson, and that's a little combo which may help us in third down situations." Warren last season: 4-51-12.8= 0 TDs.
COACH ROSENBACH: "Ellis has been hurt the majority of the spring, but when he's been out there he's shown flashes. He's got a lot of ability, and hopefully he will come along nicely and be a guy who contributes for us next year. There is a possibility that (quarterback) Gerald Kemp could end up in the slot and help us there. He is a very good athlete, but we just have to get Gerald physically healthy. I don't think he has ever had time to recovery from his injuries." Kemp's receiving stats last season: 17-124-7.3 1 = TD.
TIGHT END: Greg Hardy (6-5, 245, Sr., 3V). Others competing: Clay Pierson (6-3, 239, Jr., 2V) and Aschan Richards (6-6, 227, Fr., RS). Coming in this fall: Hayden Craig, 6-5, 246, from Dayton High School in Oregon.
Coach Rosenbach: "Hardy's out, but I have really been impressed with him by what I've watched on film from last year. I am excited about him and want to get him back on the field, and of course he's chomping at the bits and wants to be out there." Hardy, a first team All-Big Sky pick last season 2011 stats: 22-199-9.0 = 0 TDs.
"Clay Pierson , who was moved over from the defense, has been a pleasant surprise for us. He's a very intelligent guy and is picking things up pretty fast. Aschan Richards is a young kid from Butte, and he's got a great frame, he just needs to mature more physically, which I think he will. We've also got a young kid from Oregon (Craig), who we hope will be a contributor right off the bat."
RUNNING BACK: Jordan Canada (5-9, 172, So., 1V), Brett Kirschner (5-10, 195, So., 1V), Dan Moore (5-11, 235, Sr., 3V), and Peter Nguyen (5-8, 182, Sr., 3V). This is one of the most experience areas for the Griz, as Canada, Moore, and Nguyen all started at least one game last season.
COACH ROSENBACH: "Peter, Jordan, and Dan - you've got a triple threat there, even though you have somewhat different styles. Dan, sometimes because he's around those smaller backs, thinks he's got a few more moves than he does. When he learns to go a little bit north and south and be a consistent guy, once he catches the ball or receives the handoff, he's going to be a big factor for us." Moore rushing and receiving last season: 120-430-3.6 =7 TDs and 12-111-9.2 = 0 TDs.
"Peter is as dependable as you can find, and proved last year that he can be a go-to guy both running the football and catching it. Jordan's been nursing a hamstring injury, but he also showed last year that he has the ability to break loose for a big run any time he has the football. I could see him playing other positions and helping us there because of his athletic ability." Nguyen, an all-league honorable mention pick a year ago, rushing and receiving stats: *151-*835-3 TDs and 17-215-12.6 =3 TDs. *=2011 Team highs. Canada's stats last season: 113-580-5.1=9 TDs and 14-93-6.6 = 0 TDs.
"The thing about Kirschner is what he's doing academically. He's come a long way and is doing a nice job in the classroom for us, and I think that carries over into his performance on the field and his ability to finish plays. His play is a pleasant surprise and provides us with added depth." Kirschner's rushing stats last year: 39-135-3.5= 2 TDs.
QUARTERBACK: Jordan Johnson (6-1, 200, Jr., 2V). Also at the position: Kemp, who can play three different positions, and did so last season. Trent McKinney (6-0, 198, Fr., RS), Nate Montana (6-4, 210, Sr., 1V), and Shay Smithwick-Hann (6-4, 214, So., 1V). Kemp's 2011 passing, rushing, and receiving stats: 16-of-28-1 for 218 yards=2 TDs; 47 rushes for 223 yards=2 TDs, and 17 catches for 124 yards and one score.
Coach Rosenbach: "It is unfortunate that he (Johnson) could not have been redshirted (in 2010). You look and what he did, and of course I watched from afar last year and watched him grow up as a player from about the fifth or sixth game on (last season), and he was a totally different guy. He really came into his own. He allowed for his feet to let him make plays.
"People should not overlook Jordie in terms of his passing. I think he is going to become a terrific passer in this conference. His arm is stronger than most people give him credit for. That's been our focus in the spring. How are we going to make (Johnson) the better passer that he wants to be, and allow him to make vertical plays and not have to scramble and take so many hits. I don't want him to take as many hits as he has in the past." Johnson, an honorable mention all-league pick last year's passing/rushing stats: 205-of-343-9=2,440=21 TDs/89-506-5.7=4 TDs.
"Trent McKinney was recruited for this offense. Trent is a good listener and very coach-able. He can make some unbelievable plays. He is very quick and elusive, and he has a good arm. He is very strong in his lower body, we just need him to add strength up top, which he will do as he matures."
Montana's passing stats last year: 26-of-42-1 for 274 yards and 2 TDs. Smithwick-Hann: 0-of-3-0.
TACKLES: Danny Kistler Jr. (6-8, 325, Jr., 2V), who was a second team All-Big Sky pick last season, was moved from guard to right tackle in the spring. Trevor Poole (6-5, 290, So., 1V) will start on the left side. Talented redshirt freshman in John Schmaing (6-6, 255) backs up at both the tackle positions, while Zachary Taves (6-4, 260, Fr., RS) is number three at both spots. The Griz also signed several prep O-linemen who could see action as true freshmen.
Coach Rosenbach: "Kistler moving from guard to tackle - that's always a transition, and he moved to the opposite side. He's had some times where he has struggled, but the thing about "Kis" is that he's always going to work his butt off. The technique is different, plus he going from coach (Bob) Beers to coach (Scott) Gragg, and there styles are a little different too, so he's making a transition. He'll also be a guy who can play guard for us; if one of those young freshmen were to come in and contribute right away for us.
"Poole is very athletic and he can run. He's gained some weight and can still gain some more, and he will be an outstanding player in this conference."
GUARDS: Senior Jake Hendrickson (6-3 ½, 303), a redshirt last year is at left guard, while junior William Poehls (6-8, 340) will start at right guard. Poehls started a couple of games there last season, and then gave way to Kjelby Oiland. Backing up at left guard are Jordan Hines (6-4, 295, Jr., SQ), along with Shawn Bradshaw (6-3, 260), who missed last season due to an injury. Promising redshirt freshman Samson Kaleikini (6-5, 280) is the back-up at right guard. The Griz recruited five promising O-linemen from the high school ranks.
COACH ROSENBACH: "We've got William at right guard, and Jake or Jordan on the left side. William has really come on this spring, and we need to see who will win the job on the other side when we get into fall camp. Once again, one of those incoming young recruits could help us there too. We will be fine at guard, we just need to figure out who it will be on the left."
CENTER: Oiland (6-4, 295, 1V), who started 12 games at left guard, will now start at center. Oiland, who transferred to Montana from UNLV, is backed up by junior Logan Hines (6-4, 291, SQ).
COACH ROSENBACH: "Kjelby (pronounced kell-bee) needs to become more consistent on his snaps, but he's got that nastiness that you are looking for in an offensive lineman. He's very smart and makes a lot of great plays, especially in our scheme when we are asking those guys to run quite a lot. He's athletic enough to get the job done. I am excited about him, I think he is a great anchor to have in the middle of our line. (Logan) Hines will be in there competing for that second spot."
WHO HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE SO FAR? "The number one surprise would be Clay Pierson; seeing what he has done at a position that he had not played since he was in high school. And then it would be Kirschner. I felt like coming into spring drills that he might not be a guy who contributes much for us this fall, but as I said earlier, he's come on strong both on and off the field, and that's really a good thing to see."
AREAS OF EMPHASIS FOR THE REMAINDER OF SPRING DRILLS?: "We need to continue to get better at throwing the football. I feel very confident in our offensive line and think we are really going to be able to run the ball against anybody in our conference, and in the nation for that matter. Our wide receivers have to become more consistent in doing things that I've plugged into the offense, but I think that will eventually take off for us.
"I'd like to see our completion percentage up around 65 percent (it was 59.0% last season). We haven't got into it yet, but we certainly have to get into a situation where we max protect and throw the long ball, which we will get into more as we go along in spring drills and then fall camp. We are excited about adding the aspect of the long ball to our passing game, and our fans will be excited about that too."
YOU WERE OUT OF FOOTBALL FOR AWHILE, WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE BACK?: "I grew up with a 16-millimeter clicker in my hand showing film and using the clicker for my dad's (Lynn Rosenbach was the Grizzlies' running backs coach from 1980-82) meetings at our house on Thursday nights with (former Griz players) Marty Mornhinweg, (Joe), Klucewich, (Greg) Iseman, and all of those guys.
"Even if you're out of it for a little bit, it never leaves you. Your wife (his wife's name is Kim) gets sick of you being home and calling the plays when you are watching games on TV. She's like `I cannot wait for football to be over - you need to get a job.' So, that's kind of how that works."
NEXT TUESDAY (APRIL 17): A LOOK AT THE "D" WITH DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Ty Gregorak.
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