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Grizzly Football: Montana (5-1, 2-0) at Sacramento State (4-2, 2-0) Game Thread

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  • Grizzly Football: Montana (5-1, 2-0) at Sacramento State (4-2, 2-0) Game Thread

    In my twenty years of coaching football, one of the hardest things as a coach to prepare for are those things you can’t know or see. Sacramento State is a lot of can’t see less than they are can’t know. You can watch 1,000 hours of football on Sac State and have a good idea about what they might do both offensively and defensively, but you won’t completely know.

    Hauck and company have the added advantage of an extra week of planning, but planning for Sacramento States offense is going to be a test. Their defense is a weird compliment to their offense in that what makes their offense so successful is precisely why their defense has been so dominant to begin the year. As a coach you want to work within the parameters of what you know WILL work. Montana State found out last week to their own dismay that their framework offensively and defensively were ill suited to get the most out of their personnel.

    Why MSU’s offense failed:
    1. I think it was less a failure of scheme, but usage of personnel. MSU clearly succeeds when they can control how teams attack them, and they spent the first half trying to be cute on how they attacked Sac State. They used at one point four different quarterbacks and in a wide array of different formations. MSU tried getting Sacramento State and Thompson to play their hand, and at no point where they really got Thompson and Sacramento States defense out of their comfort zone. By the time they got back to what made them good, they were forced to keep Rovig at quarterback and they had to pass their way back into the game.

    2. Give credit to Thompson as he has mastered in his time as DC the ability to provide flex looks and philosophies. They are a bear to handle up front, because their rules are less strict and more general guidelines. He lets their DE play some games and in combination with their athletic linebackers they created problems in blocking assignments. MSU offensive front wasn’t able to get those clean assertive lines they are used to having. Thompson is a stunt master, so it gets increasingly hard for run oriented teams to get their calls right.

    Why MSU’s defense had a rough day.
    1. I am working on a blog on this so I’ll keep this short. The 4-3 and its several iterations is a terrible matchup for RPO especially when you have a team that uses floating personnel so freely. Sterk had been an absolute monster up until last week, and SS scheme just rendered him and MSU’s DL toothless. Thomson wasn’t under duress much and MSU couldn’t seem to vary its front 6-7 enough to cause Thomson vision problems.

    2. At this point, and this will come off as heavily critical, why 4-3 DC’s trying to play teams like SS with their base personnel. That meant that MSU would have to make concessions somewhere in coverage or alignment to keep their base personnel on the field. They were allowed to isolate Sterk at DE, and Thomson had some incredibly clean reads on RPO looks that you just don’t get anymore. MSU is a heavy 4-3 team, and their personnel is meant to grind and wear on offenses. You have to be so good on the perimeter, and while MSU has improved at corner and at safety, they got exposed a bit on Saturday. MSU did well, but at the same point they weren’t able to impose themselves the way they were used to.

    What Montana needs to do.

    I am of the belief at least defensively, Montana provides a test with their scheme that can in theory take away some of the things SS likes to do. Like in the Davis game, Montana’s talent up the seams is going to be a key element in this game. Robertson, Hauck, Sandry and Lewis have been monsters this year, and they can positionally align to SS and not get caught up in the concession game that 4-3 schemes have to. I’ll write to this more in my blog, but UM’s ability to bring varied pressure and not be predictable has the potential to alter SS RPO game. You don’t need to get to the quarterback, but you do need to make RPO guys unsure about what they are seeing.

    Offensively if they can get their slot receivers into the game through screens or otherwise, it’ll test that flex look that Thompson loves so much. JLM/Sulser could get a bunch of looks as fly sweep or as screen options. Their defense is a 3-4, but if you force those flex teams to use one of their box defenders it makes the assignments all that much easier. Sacramento State is going to get after Sneed because I am not sure there is a secondary in the conference that matches up well with UM’s perimeter threat. I think this is why the slot guys are in for a big week, because of what Akem and Toure represent on the perimeter and what I think SS is going to try to do with their front 6/7 to get after Sneed. I just don’t think you can defend akem’s side of the field with one high and one low. Sort of forces teams to give help, and if you are running slot with him, you’d almost need to play 3 over 2 to be sound or feel secure. That gives Toure great matchups as well as JLM/Sulser and Mitch Roberts in a 2x2 look.

    Anyway. Should be interesting. Vegas sees UM as the favorite, but only slightly. If UM can get to the mid 30’s, they have a great chance of winning.

  • #2
    Part I of my blog about Sacramento State.
    -Focuses on why or how SS makes opposing defenses look a bit slow and sometimes silly.