Senior WR Bryce Carver
Aug. 8, 2012
As all college football fans know, there are 11 players on offense and 11 on defense in every game.
Interestingly enough, The University of Montana's 2012 Grizzly football team is comprised of 11 seniors - one of the smallest such groups in many seasons at UM.
That's not to say that all 11 of those upperclassmen will start this season, but first-year head coach Mick Delaney will lean on all of them, along with a handful of younger guys, to provide much-needed, valuable leadership to his team this season.
UM's 11 seniors are center/snapper Brett Brauer, wide receivers Bryce Carver and Sam Gratton, tight ends Jacob Haas and tight end Greg Hardy, defensive end Josh Harris, offensive guard Jake Hendrickson, running back/fullback Dan Moore, running back/returner Peter Nguyen, linebacker Josh Stuberg, and running back Caleb Walden.
"We are very fortunate this year, in that we have 11 seniors, and I think everyone of them displays some type of leadership," Delaney said. "You take Josh Harris on defense. He doesn't say hardly anything, just his presence and how hard he works and how hard he plays makes him a leader.
"Peter Nguyen, on the other side of the ball is the same way," Delaney said. "Peter wouldn't say `mush' if he had a mouthful, but he's there every rep and every drill, and he's always the first guy here. That type of leadership is kind of a silent leadership, but by his work ethic it commands a ton of respect from his teammates. Those two guys (Harris and Nguyen) are kind of the opposite of what I am and never say anything, but when they do it means something.
"On the other side of that you've got to have some guys who are a little bit boisterous and take charge - as long as they do that in a positive way," Delaney continued. "I don't like leaders who belittle their teammates. We coaches do enough of that. We have players who take care of each other, and speak out - (juniors) Jordie Tripp and Brock Coyle, and (senior) Josh Stuberg, a big part of our linebacking core.
"One of the guys on defense right now who I am extremely happy with is (junior cornerback) Sean Murray. Sean hasn't been a real force as a player here, and he's kind of been up and down. We had long talks in the spring, (Aric) Coach Williams and him and I. Sean has really come around. He did not miss a work out all summer. I think he has a chance to be a prolific corner this year. I guess you'd say that he's earning his leadership stripes.
"On the offensive side we've got two wide receivers, in Gratton and Carver, who are both leaders for us," Delaney said. "Bryce kind of re-dedicated himself focus-wise and really has gained the respect of his teammates by his play and effort this past spring. Sam's been a leader since the day he came here. He's not afraid to tell anybody the way things are. He does it in a respectful way.
"Sam and Greg Hardy are two guys I look up to tremendously, and they both know that they can come to me and share what's concerning them, whether it be about a scheme or anything else that they think will help our team," Delaney said. "They're guys that the team really, really respects.
"We have a couple of younger guys on the offensive line in junior (tackle) Danny Kistler and (center) Kjelby Oiland, along with (sophomore tackle) Trevor Poole, who really pulled that whole group together," Delaney said. "We have as good of a looking group of young guys who are physically and mentally at that offensive line as we've had since I've been here. We only have a couple of seniors in that group (Brauer and Hendrickson).
"Our expectations of our seniors is to have the best season of their careers here," Delaney said. "Whether they played as a true freshman and its their fourth year, or whether redshirted along the way because they were a freshman who sat out or got injured along the way. Now they're senior and they must play better than any other time in their career.
"In the four years (since 2008) that I have been fortunate enough to be here I think back of guys like (running backs) Andrew Schmidt, or the two Palmer brothers (wide receiver Tyler and defensive end Jace), and some guys who maybe weren't stars a juniors but came back as seniors and had really, really solid years," Delaney said.
"(Center) Alex Verlanic is another one," Delaney added. "He did not play a lot until the middle of his junior year. It's critical those guys play well, That, in turn, produces from those type of guys. I am really going to push, push, push that those senior concentrate on having the best season of their career, and if they do that, I think we will be fine."
The Grizzlies continue their one-a-day practices and prepare for Sunday night's first scrimmage, as they will don their helmets and shoulder pads on Thursday, August 9, (they are allowed to wear helmets only the first two days of practice). The first of three scrimmages is this Sunday, August 12, starting around 8:30 p.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
MORE ON THOSE 11 SENIORS: Nine of UM's 11 seniors have been with the team as freshmen. Hendrickson transferred from Scottsdale CC. Walden walked on three years ago after an outstanding prep career at Capital High School in Boise, Idaho. Carver and Nguyen are fourth-year seniors, although Gratton would have played as a true freshman, but was injured in fall camp.
MONTANA CONNECTION: Forty of the 95 players in fall camp are from the state of Montana, including 14 different towns or cities in the Treasure State.
CAMP INJURY NOTE: Redshirt freshman linebacker Addison Owen (6-2, 220), who wears No. 49, has been unable to practice so far in fall camp because of an injury.
FOOTBALL GAME TV UPDATE: The Griz are still in the negotiation process of televising all of their 11 regular-season games this year, beginning with the opener against a good South Dakota team on Sept. 1, as well as their Sept. 15 home contest versus Liberty.
ROOT SPORTS: Montana will have six of its Big Sky games televised by Direct-TV owned ROOT Sports, beginning with its Sept. 22 Homecoming game against Northern Arizona. Other Griz games on ROOT are home games against Idaho State and Montana State, and road contests at Eastern Washington, Northern Colorado, and Weber State.
Mick Delaney RADIO SHOW: Coach D's first radio show is Tuesday, August 21, from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and will be held in conjunction with a Grizzly Sports Property function in the Canyon Club in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Over the rest of the season the "Mick Delaney Radio Show" will be every Tuesday from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at Paradise Falls, located at 3612 Brooks Street in Missoula.
FOOTBALL COACHES SHOW: The Griz are also still in the negotiation process for the Mick Delaney/Grizzly Football television show, and UM hopes to announce something by next week.
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