Things I wish I’d written, Cat-Griz version
After 10 or so days, I am so over Montana State’s 21-16 victory over Montana in the 110th Brawl of the Wild. Two fumbles inside the 5-yard line. Another untimely interception. A fumble by MSU that went through the legs of a Griz defender, letting the Cats recover.
Man. And there’s more:
1) Both third-quarter fumbles – not just Gerald Kemp’s but Chase Reynolds’ – could have been recovered by the Griz. Big Jon Opperud was tantalizingly close on both. Go Fetal!, as they say.
2) Justin Roper’s interception didn’t help things but it seemed to me – and I might be the only one who feels this way – that he played better after the short sideline confrontation with defensive coordinator Mike Breske that followed. Coach Robin Pflugrad was most impressed with Roper’s physical, 6-yard TD run in the first quarter. I thought his 16-yard keeper ahead of Reynolds’ fumble was better.
3) For all that, Roper dropped a snap in the fourth quarter: A 5-yard loss to begin a 3-and-out.
4) Antwon Moutra, the junior receiver from UCLA, made some hellacious blocks. One came on Reynolds’ 59-yard TD run on the Grizzlies’ first offensive play, and the other came on a 20-yard option pass to Gerald Kemp (Pflugrad rates Moutra as UM’s best blocking receiver, slightly ahead of Sam Gratton).
4) Then, after Kemp was tackled at MSU’s 14, the Griz set Reynolds up for a screen play … and Alex Verlanic’s snap bounced back to Roper, who barely had time to get a pass off once he recovered it. Incomplete. “Everybody was blocked,” Pflugrad would tell me later.
Those are the little things that separate 7-4 from 8-3 or even 11-0. Can’t do much about it now. All I can do is hope for an Eastern-MSU rematch. The Cats beat the Eagles 30-7 back in September. This time Eastern won’t have faced the hated Griz the week before. It’d be interesting to see if Eastern does better without a “Griz Hangover.”