Griz ranked 11th in The Sports Network's 2012 preseason poll

Senior RB Caleb Walden

Senior RB Caleb Walden

Aug. 13, 2012

Philadelphia, PA - Voters tabbed The University of Montana Grizzlies 11th in The Sports Network's Football Championship Subdivision 2012 preseason poll, the organization announced today (Monday, August 13).

The Grizzlies, coming off an 11-3 season, return just seven starters from their Big Sky Conference (7-1) co-championship team. Montana has five starters back on offense and two on defense.

The Grizzlies have finished 20th or higher in The Sports Network's final poll the past 19 years (since 1993) in a row.

"That is very gratifying for our kids in the program," said Griz head coach Mick Delaney. "They come here because of that situation. They know that year-in and year-out, regardless of who is here and who leaves, and who comes back, that Montana guys play hard, and they play to win.

"Everybody in FCS football realizes that Montana is going to show up each and every week and play hard," Delaney said. "The guys that are here now know that it's their turn to step it up, and their turn to hopefully make a mark on the national scene."

Sam Houston State was selected the No. 1 team in the poll. The Bearkats gained 79 of the 151 first-place votes and 3,708 points in the national poll.

Defending national champion North Dakota State was the second pick, totaling 59 first-place votes and 3,625 points.

The Bearkats, the Southland Conference champion which finished 14-1 last season, return eight starters on offense and nine on defense. NDSU, which also finished 14-1 last season and is the defending Missouri Valley Football Conference champion, has 13 returning starters.

The Grizzlies advanced to the FCS semi-finals a year ago, losing 31-28 to the top-ranked and host Bearkats. Defending Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern (11-3), which has reached the national semifinals in each of the past two seasons, was picked third in the preseason poll.

The Big Sky's Montana State (10-3) was picked fourth, while fellow league member Eastern Washington (6-5) was tabbed 12th. Appalachian State (8-4), the Grizzlies' second game of the season in 2012, was picked sixth.



James Madison (8-5) was picked fifth. The rest of the Top 10 was Appalachian State; No. 7 Towson (9-3); No. 8 Old Dominion (10-3); No. 9 Northern Iowa (10-3); and No. 10 Wofford (8-4).

Five of Montana's 2012 opponents which were not ranked in the top 25, were listed in the "others receiving votes" category in the preseason poll. Those teams were Northern Arizona, Liberty, South Dakota, Southern Utah, and Idaho State.

The CAA had the most teams in the preseason Top 25 of any conference with six, followed by the Missouri Valley Conference with five. The Big Sky, Southern and Southland conferences had three each, while the Ohio Valley Conference had two, and the Big South Conference, Ivy League and Patriot League had one each.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25 each season. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon, except for the final weekend of the regular season, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 18, prior to the selection of the FCS playoff field. The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 5 in Frisco.

Sports Network Preseason Poll

Team (First-place votes)-2011 Record-Points

1. Sam Houston State (79)- 14-1-3,708

2. North Dakota State (59)- 14-1-2,625

3. Georgia Southern (6)-11-3-3,249

4. Montana State (3)-10-3-3,217

5. James Madison (3)-8-5-2,812

6. Appalachian State (1)-8-4-2,800

7. Towson-9-3-2,674

8. Old Dominion-10-3-2,484

9. Northern Iowa- 10-3-2,168

10. Wofford-8-4-2,080

11. Montana-11-3-2,018

12. Eastern Washington-6-5- 1,897

13. Youngstown State (1)-6-5-1,860

14. New Hampshire- 8-4-1,857

15. Delaware-7-4-1,810

16. Lehigh-11-2-1,514

17. Stony Brook-9-4-1,339

18. Eastern Kentucky-7-5-1,055

19. Illinois State-7-4-1,052

20. Stephen F. Austin-6-5-863

21. Maine-9-4-721

22. Jacksonville State-7-4-625

23. Indiana State- 6-5-522

24. Central Arkansas-9-4-508

25. Harvard-9-1-477

Others receiving votes: Murray State 292, Northern Arizona 259, Norfolk State 222, Chattanooga 191, Liberty 150, South Carolina State 137, Bethune-Cookman 134, McNeese State 127, Grambling State 87, Tennessee Tech 77, Portland State 73, North Dakota 68, Alabama State 66, Jackson State 63, Southern Illinois 63, William & Mary 59, Southern Utah 54, Georgia State 49, Furman 43, Albany 39, Richmond 31, Villanova 30, Penn 16, Duquesne 14, South Dakota State 10, San Diego 9, Elon 9, Drake 8, Holy Cross 7, Prairie View A&M 6, South Dakota 6, Alabama A&M 4, Southeast Missouri 4, Georgetown 3, Idaho State 3, Sacramento State 3, Cornell 2, Bryant 1, Eastern Illinois 1, Jacksonville 1, Missouri State 1, Samford 1, UT Martin 1, The Citadel 1, Western Illinois 1.


Numerous players did not participate in last Sunday evening's scrimmage due to minor injuries. On defense, two potential starters, junior tackle Alex Bienemann and senior end Josh Harris did not play, nor did true freshman safety Herbert Gamboa. Missing on offense were sophomore running back Jordan Canada and senior wide receiver Bryce Carver.

COMMENTS FROM COACH DELANEY AFTER LOOKING AT FILM ON SUNDAY NIGHT'S SCRIMMAGE: "I thought our running backs were very physical last night (August 12). Danny (Moore), and Caleb Walden, and even the young kids, in (freshmen) Nelo Butler, Jacob Elder, and Joey Counts. Peter (Nguyen) only had a few plays, but he was outstanding when he was in there.

"I thought (senior) Greg Hardy at tight end had a good evening on the offensive side. You know our offensive line is going to be a physical, good group. I am very happy with where they are at right now.

"Defensively, the key to any defense is always not how big you are, but how fast you run," Delaney said. "We have guys flying to the football at every single position. (Sophomore tackle) Tonga (Takai) and Josh Harris have been very steady for us, and it looks like Tyrone Holmes (a 6-4, 265-pound freshman end from Eagle Point, Ore.) is going to be a real force for us. He's got great get-off and great quickness.

"Our safeties are playing better then they have since they've been here, and Aric's (Williams, UM's cornerbacks coach) got our corners filling and tackling, and playing well," he said. "The strength of our team on defense, we've said day-in and day-out, is our linebackers. I am very excited about where we are right now."

COMING UP: A position-by-position breakdown on both sides of the football.

TOMORROW: Defensive coordinator Ty Gregorak and defensive line coach Ligi Suianunoa talk about the defensive line. (Part 1 of a 3 part series on the defense).

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