[Vandal] Battle For The Little Brown Stein Returns

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Sat Oct 23 08:57:52 PDT 2021


>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSaturday, October 23, 2021

Battle For The Little Brown Stein Returns
By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — One team started the season by pulling a startling upset of a ranked FBS opponent before last week falling to an unranked FCS foe.
The other is coming off one of its worst FCS losses in program history.
Both No. 11 Montana (4-2, 1-2 Big Sky) and Idaho (2-4, 1-2) will be eager to get their seasons back on track in the latest battle for the Little Brown Stein when they kick off at 4:30 p.m. today (ESPN+/SWX) at the Kibbie Dome. The contest will be the 87th between the Grizzlies and Vandals.
Montana turned heads after defeating No. 20 Washington in Week 1, but it has dropped two of its last three games, including a loss to Sacramento State last Saturday. Idaho, meanwhile, is coming off a 50-point loss to No. 2 Eastern Washington in Cheney.
Both squads are eager to move on.
“We have to move past it,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “We watched it Sunday night and ... we’ve already been game-planning since then for Montana.”
Said Montana coach Bobby Hauck, “Any team that’s played has lost a game. So that’s what you do: You go to practice, you go to work and you go to try to get the next one.
“That’s what competition is.”
The Grizzlies will obviously be the big favorites against the Vandals — UM only lost to EWU by six — but the two teams share a couple of similarities.
In addition to their identical conference records, both teams have played multiple quarterbacks — a theme in the Big Sky this year.
Some teams cycle quarterbacks by design, like Sac State in its win over UM; others do it because of injuries, like the Grizzlies; and some do it because of a combination of design and injuries, like Idaho.
Montana’s starting quarterback, Cam Humphrey, has missed the last two games with a leg injury.
In his place is redshirt freshman Kris Brown, who tallied a couple of rushing touchdowns against the Hornets but also tossed an interception and was sacked four times in the loss.
As for Idaho, it’ll likely be without quarterbacks Mike Beaudry for the second straight game and CJ Jordan for the third consecutive contest.
That means rushing specialist Zach Borisch and true freshman Gevani McCoy will likely split duties again against the Griz.
Borisch is 10th in the Big Sky in rushing yards with 317 and four touchdowns, but he and McCoy had combined for only one pass going into the tough loss against EWU.
Petrino said another full week of practice is a big benefit to Borisch and McCoy, since they’ve spent much of the season behind Jordan and Beaudry in practice.
But it’ll be a tough task going against a stingy Montana defense that allows just 16.2 points per game and held its first three opponents to a single touchdown.
“Their defense really plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Petrino said. “They fly around, play with great effort, play with great toughness and just play together as a team.”
The key to the Grizzlies’ defensive philosophy?
“They’re going to blitz, then they’re going to blitz some more, then they’re going to blitz some more,” Petrino said. “They’re going to do it to stop the run and the pass.”
That could spell trouble for Borisch and McCoy, who would be playing in his second-career college game, both of whom took numerous big hits against the Eagles last week.
Idaho can’t afford to lose another quarterback.
In addition to its dynamic defense, Montana is also known for its spectacular special teams.
Wide receiver/returner Malik Flowers has five-career kickoff returns for touchdowns and leads the Griz with 100.2 all-purpose yards per game.
“Special teams will be a big thing,” Petrino said. “We cannot give up points there.”
Idaho owns a 55-29-2 record against Montana since the rivals first played in 1903. But the Vandals haven’t beat the Griz since 1999.
Montana has won six straight against Idaho in the last two decades. That includes a 15-year gap from 2003-18. The rivalry was renewed in ’18 upon the Vandals’ return to the Big Sky from the FBS ranks.
“It’s our second-oldest (rivalry) and there’s a lot of Grizzly fans that care a lot about this game, especially guys that are my age or a little older — they think it’s a really important game,” Hauck said. “For us, it is. We are familiar with them and we see them in recruiting and everything else.”
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