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Griz claim MSU has game film advantage
Since Robin Pflugrad took over as the head football coach at the University of Montana, his Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats have played common opponents in consecutive weeks 10 times.
In 2010 and 2011, Montana played Eastern Washington, Sacramento State and Weber State the week before Montana State played each respective opponent. Each of the last two seasons, the Bobcats have played Portland State and Northern Arizona the week prior to the Vikings and the Lumberjacks taking on the Grizzlies.
In 21st century college football, the exchange of game video is of paramount importance to devising a game plan each week. Teams watch videos on upcoming opponents from different times throughout a season, but it’s almost certain the prior week’s opponent will be one game to study each week.
Theoretically, Montana State has seen the Grizzlies three times during video crossover while preparing for EWU, Sac and Weber. And theoretically Montana has seen the Bobcats twice while preparing for Portland State and NAU. Yet Pflugrad seems to think there’s a great disparity.
Following Montana’s 33-7 win over Western Oregon two weeks ago, Pflugrad first alluded to what he thinks is an advantage for the Bobcats with the 111th “Brawl of the Wild” on the horizon. Pflugrad asserts that, for the second year in a row, his team has only seen MSU in the video crossover once while MSU has seen his Griz a multitude of times.
“We are playing catch-up, there’s no question about that,” said UM’s second-year head coach. “I know it’s happened the last two years. They’ve seen us every week but one or two, and we’ve only seen them in the crossover the Portland State week. I’m almost ready to call Coach Ash and say ‘can I get a self-evaluation of us?’ I don’t know if Coach Ash would do that. I think he is a really good person and a tremendous coach, but I don’t know if he’d go that far. I might just call him and ask him what our tendencies are. You can put that in the paper.”
Perhaps Pflugrad has a point or perhaps the UM head coach is trying to stir the pot a little bit leading up to what is shaping up to be the most anticipated “Brawl” in years. Video advantage or not, Saturday’s game will be for all the marbles.
Montana comes to Bozeman looking to regain its spot atop the Big Sky Conference. A 21-16 MSU win in Missoula last season gave the ‘Cats a share of the Big Sky title and effectively kept the Grizzlies out of the playoffs for the first time since 1992. A Montana win would give the Griz a share of the league title for the 13th time in 14 seasons and earn UM the league’s automatic bid into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs
A Montana State win would clinch the league’s automatic berth for a second straight season. A victory would also give the Bobcats their first outright Big Sky crown since 1984 and would almost certainly sew up a top seed and home-field advantage for the duration of the postseason.
Players from both sides said the advantages implied by Pflugrad for the video crossover is a moot point. But Montana defensive end Ryan Fetherston said in the few times he’s seen the ‘Cats on film when preparing for other opponents, he can’t help but be impressed.
“You see them on film a couple of times and you notice them, even if you try not to, but they are there,” said the fifth-year senior from Helena. “They have a really good offense. Their quarterback is really good and leads the way. Their rushing attack is great. They are one of the top offenses in the Big Sky. We aren’t watching them, but it’s tough to not notice some of the stuff they do.”
While Fetherston may have been impressed with the short glimpses he’s seen of the MSU offense, during video crossover, the Bobcat defense he’s most likely seen the most. If UM is preparing for Portland State and watching the game film from the Vikings’ matchup with MSU a week earlier, the Grizzly defense would presumably be breaking down the PSU offense. In other words, the UM defense hasn’t seen the Bobcat offense much this season.
MSU defensive end Caleb Schreibeis said he’s definitely noticed Montana while watching film this season. But the junior said it’s UM defensive coordinator Mike Breske’s unit that is on the screen most times, not offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith’s troops.
“I wouldn’t say that’s much of an advantage,” said Schreibeis of Pflugrad’s crossover conspiracy theory. “When we see them, our defense sees their defense so I don’t know how much that helps us. It’s fun seeing those guys build up to the game, but I don’t think that’s an advantage. I’m not sure what they’re hollering about over there.”
Montana State head coach Rob Ash isn’t taking the bait either. He doesn’t see any sort of advantage in watching the Grizzlies while preparing for another opponent, or vice versa.
“The offensive guys are watching the wrong side of the ball,” said Montana State’s fifth-year head coach. “The offensive guys are watching Montana’s offense so that doesn’t help them to play the game. There’s no advantage there.”
By COLTER NUANEZ, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle