Grizzlies Ranked 10th in 2012 College Sporting News preseason poll

Senior halfback Peter Nguyen

Senior halfback Peter Nguyen

July 31, 2012

The University of Montana Grizzlies have been picked 10th in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) preseason poll conducted by the staff of College Sporting News the organization announced today (Tuesday, July 31).

Last season the Grizzlies were 11-3 (7-1 in the Big Sky Conference), advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons, and won (or shared) their 16th Big Sky Conference title in the past 19 years.

UM has five starters back on offense, and two of them were all-conference picks a year ago. Senior tight end Greg Hardy (14 starts) was a first team selection in 2011, while junior tackle Danny Kistler (who started 14 games at left guard last season) was named to the second team.

Other starters returning are senior wide receiver Sam Gratton (14 starts), and senior running backs Peter Nguyen (six starts) and Dan Moore (five starts). Gratton and Nguyen were honorable mention All-Big Sky picks last season.Also back is Kjelby Oiland, who had 12 starts at right guard a year ago, and will start at center this season.

Gratton had a team-high (tie) 36 catches last season, while Nguyen led the Griz with 835 yards rushing.

The Griz defense returns just two starters on "D" in junior linebacker John Kanongata'a (11 starts) and junior free safety Bo Tully (eight starts). Kanongata'a was UM's second leading tackler last season with 93 stops, and a second team all-league selection. Tully is the team's third leading returning tackler and had 52 stops in eight starts last season. Another key player back is junior Jordan Tripp, who started the first four games a year ago (he started all 11 games in 2010), but was injured and lost for the remainder of the season.



The North Dakota State Bison, which won the school's first Division I football national title last year, is ranked No. 1 in the poll. Finishing a close second to the Bison in the preseason poll is last year's runner-up, the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The top-ranked and host Bearkats defeated the Grizzlies 31-28 in a FCS semifinal game in 2011.

Last season there was definitely parity in the FCS, as NDSU and SHSU both made their respective school's first national title game appearance. The battle for the top spot should once again be wide open, as 33 schools received votes in the CSN poll.

The Montana State Bobcats were tabbed fourth in CSN's preseason poll. MSU was recently picked as the preseason favorite in the Big Sky by the coaches and media, while the Eastern Washington Eagles and Grizzlies were chosen to finish two-three in both of those polls.

The Grizzlies tied the Bobcats for the league's regular-season championship, but Montana earned the Big Sky's automatic FCS playoff berth thanks to its 36-10 victory over (then) top-ranked MSU in the teams' regular-season finale in Bozeman.

EWU, the 2010 national champion, started the 2011 season with four straight losses, but finished with six wins to end the season. The Eagles are ranked 12th in the CSN poll.

Montana plays four of the teams which are ranked in CSN's preseason poll. The Grizzlies play sixth-ranked Appalachian State on the road on Sept. 8, and then a week later (Sept. 15) host 23rd-ranked Liberty. UM's other two match-ups against teams in the CSN poll are on Sept. 29 at EWU and Nov. 17 in its final regular-season contest at home against long-time rival MSU.

2012 College Sporting News FCS Preseason Top 25
1. North Dakota State
2. Sam Houston State
3. Georgia Southern
4. Montana State
5. James Madison
6. Appalachian State
7. Towson
8. Old Dominion
9. Northern Iowa
10. Montana
11. Lehigh
12. Eastern Washington
13. Delaware
14. New Hampshire
15. Wofford
16. Stony Brook
17. Youngstown State
18. Illinois State
19. Maine
20. Eastern Kentucky
21. Central Arkansas
22. Indiana State
23. Liberty
24. Murray State
25. Stephen F. Austin

Others receiving votes: Bethune-Cookman, Harvard, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Grambling State, Norfolk State, Southern Illinois, Villanova, Jacksonville State

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