Griz open week report: Montana moves up to 13th in Sports Network poll

Jamaal Jones had a team-high 6 catches in the ASU win.

Jamaal Jones had a team-high 6 catches in the ASU win.

Sep 3, 2013

The University of Montana Grizzlies moved up seven notches in the Sports Network's weekly poll, released on Monday (Sept. 2). Montana went from 20th to 13th in the Sports Network poll, which is voted on by 152 members of the media and sports information directors around the country from the FCS.

Montana, coming off an impressive 30-6 home victory over previously 12th-ranked Appalachian State, was tabbed 18th in the weekly coaches' poll, which included 26 voters. The Mountaineers are now 21st in the SN poll and are not included in the coaches' poll since they are in the transition of moving up to the FBS.

The Big Sky Conference has excellent representation in the Sports Network poll, with five teams in the top 25, led by Eastern Washington and Montana State are ranked two-three. Other league teams ranked in the SN poll are Cal Poly (12th) and Northern Arizona (22nd). Two-time defending national champion North Dakota State is ranked first in both polls. (The top 25 teams in the poll are listed below).

Montana is 97th overall in this week's Jeff Sagarin Rankings (EWU is 80th and MSU is 104th). The Grizzlies are ranked fifth in the FCS by Sagarin (EWU is third and MSU is seventh).

The Grizzlies set an all-time attendance record with 26,293 fans at the Appalachian State game last Saturday night in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The old record was 26,210 in the Griz-Cat game last season. It was the fourth time in 196 games UM has gone over the 26,000 mark in WGS. The other two times were in 2011 (26,066 vs. EWU) and 2010 (26,019 vs. MSU).


Montana's Big Sky "Player of the Week" nominees this week were junior quarterback Jordan Johnson on offense, senior safety Bo Tully on defense, and sophomore punter Stephen Shaw in the special teams area.



Johnson completed 19-of-23-0 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, and had two carries for 5 yards. Tully garnered 6 tackles, had an interception that led to a UM touchdown, and he also had a fumble recovery. Shaw punted three times for a 54.3-yard average, and had one punt inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

Johnson has moved up to 13th on UM's career passing yards with 2,695 yards in 13 starts. He recently passed Josh Swogger (from Vienna, Ohio), who passed for 2,685 yards in the 2006 season. Johnson's 24 career touchdown throws rank him 14th in that category.

Junior running back Jordan Canada now has 1,278 career rushing yards (in only four starts), and is 22nd on the Grizzlies' all-time list. Canada's 14 career rushing TDs tie him for 14th all-time with Casey Reilly, who had 14 from 1969-71. Canada rushed for 112 yards in the Appalachian State game - his third career 100-plus yard contest.

Junior halfback Travon Van's debut at Montana was impressive, as the junior transfer from Marshall rushed 20 times for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Canada and Van both had 100-yard games in the App. State victory. The last time the Griz had two players gain 100 yards in a game was the opener last season against South Dakota, as Dan Moore ran for 148 yards and Peter Nguyen had 102.

Senior linebacker Jordan Tripp is now 24th in career tackles with 242, and recently passed LBs Dan Downs (from Helena) and Kurt Schilling (from Shelby), who played together from 1991-94 and had 241 career stops each.

Montana had four players make their first career starts against App. State. That group included senior tight end Clay Pierson and sophomore defensive tackle Caleb Kidder, and transfers Jamaal Jones (a wide receiver from Washington) and Jamal Wilson (a fullback from Boise State), who are both sophomores. Jones had a team-high 6 catches (for 60 yards) against ASU, while Kidder had 3 tackles, including a stop for a loss.

Montana dominated the Mountaineers in a couple of key stat areas. Number one, the Griz converted 9-of-15 (60%) third down conversions, while ASU was 3-of-13 (23%). ASU was only in the red zone once (they were 1-of-1 on red zone score chances and UM was 5-of-8).

Number two, the Grizzlies had 36:05 time of possession and ran 75 plays, while the Mountaineers had the ball for 23:55 and ran 59 plays.

The Griz currently have 18 players on their roster who have played in 20 or more games, and seven whom have played in 30 or more, and two with 40 or more under their belts. The leaders are senior linebacker and team co-captains Brock Coyle (41 games) and Tripp (40 games).

The Griz did not play any true freshmen in the opener.

Montana's bye week was Nov. 10 last season - the week before the 112th Griz-Cat game in Missoula. The Grizzlies' next game, Sept. 14 at North Dakota, is a non-league contest because the game was arranged before UND joined the Big Sky Conference. UM goes to Grand Forks again in 2014, playing UND in a conference game on Oct. 4.

Several Big Sky teams have very tough match-ups during UM's bye week. On Thursday, Sept. 5, Sacramento State plays at Arizona State (0-0) . On Saturday, Sept. 7, Weber State plays (1-0) at Utah, Portland State is at Cal, #6 South Dakota State plays at North Dakota, UC Davis is at former Big Sky member Nevada, No. 12 Cal Poly is at Fresno State, and No. 4 Montana State is at SMU.

The Sports Network Poll (Sept. 2)

RANK- School............Rec....Pts.

1.-NDSU (145)............1-0.....3,793

2.-E. Washington (7)....1-0 ....3,564

3.-Montana State .......1-0.....3,319

4.-Sam Houston St.......1-0.....3,267


6.-South Dakota St.....1-0.....2,744

7.-Central Arkansas....1-0.....2,557


9.-Northern Iowa ......1-0.....2,357

10.--Georgia Southern..1-0.....2,191

11.--New Hampshire.....0-0.....2,112

12.--Cal Poly...........1-0.....1,857

13.--Montana ...........1-0.....1,842

14.--Eastern Illinois..1-0 ....1,717

15.--Richmond ..........1-0 ....1,690


17.--Stony Brook.....0-0 .....1,235

18.--McNeese State...1-0......1,213

19.--Illinois State ..0-1.....1,164

20.--James Madison....1-0.....1,147

21.--Appalachian St...0-1.....841

22.--Northern Arizona..0-1 ...583


24.--Coastal Carolina..1-0....484


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