Montana 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Montana Grizzlies
Big Sky


Montana made a big splash to open the season when they knocked off North Dakota State 38-35. But after that things got bad in a hurry. The following week the Grizzlies lost to Cal Poly at home and, after a week off, lost at Liberty. At the time, neither of those losses seemed too bad, but both Cal Poly and Liberty struggled later. By the end of October Montana was 4-4 and not at all in a good position to make the playoffs. But they won their last three games against Idaho State, Eastern Washington and rival Montana State to finish 7-4 and earn a trip to the playoffs.  

2015 Record: 7-4, 6-2
Coach: Bob Stitt

Big Wins: 9/26 Northern Arizona (23-14), 11/14 Eastern Washington (57-16)
Bad Losses: 9/5 Cal Poly (19-20), 9/19 at Liberty (21-31)

Few teams in the nation get to the quarterback better than Montana. Defensive end Tyrone Holmes is impossible for most teams to stop. On the year he has tallied 14.0 sacks, 20.0 tackles-for-loss and seven quarterback hurries. Players like Ryan Johnson and Caleb Kidder can take advantage of the opportunity when the opposition forgets about the rest of the line and keys in on Holmes a little too much. But the leader of the defense is senior linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren. He has tallied a team high 125 tackles, with fellow senior Jeremiah Kose close behind with 95 tackles. The consistent pressure has turned Montana’s secondary into one of the best in the Big Sky. J.R. Nelson and Nate Harris are very good cornerbacks and throwing on this Montana team is not easy.

Montana has shuffled through a few quarterbacks this year with Chad Chalich, Makena Simis and Brady Gustafson all making some starts. But it is Gustafson who will take control of the Grizzlies offense when he is healthy. After suffering a broken foot, Gustafson returned for the Eastern Washington game and threw for 266 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Jamaal Jones, Ben Roberts and Chase Naccarato have been relatively productive despite the quarterback carousel. However, a lot has been asked of the passing game. Running back John Nguyen has struggled at times and on many occasions the ground game has been basically abandoned. Nguyen is a speedy little back who can make plays, which is why Coach Bob Stitt will get him involved in the passing game as well, but Montana needs to be able to establish a run game if they want to make a serious playoff run.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: John Nguyen, RB, 752 yards
Passing: Brady Gustafson, QB, 1,460 yards
Receiving: Jamaal Jones, WR, 1,092 yards
Tackles: Kendrick Van Ackeren, LB, 125
Sacks: Tyrone Holmes, DE, 14.0
Interceptions: Kendrick Van Ackeren, LB, 2; JR Nelson, CB,2; Eric Johnson, S,2

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.6 (64th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 275.8 (20, 5)
Total Offense: 428.4 (27, 6)
Scoring Offense: 29.7 (43, 7)
Rushing Defense: 190.9 (87, 8)
Pass Defense: 186.5 (24, 2)
Total Defense: 377.4 (56, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.1 (43, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (50, 3)
Sacks: 3.60 (3, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.60 (91, 12)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2014    First Round    Defeated San Diego
2014    Second Round    Lost to Eastern Washington
2013    Second Round    Lost to Coastal Carolina
2011    Second Round    Defeated Central Arkansas
2011    Quarterfinals    Defeated Northern Iowa
2011    Semifinals    Lost to Sam Houston State
2009    First Round    Defeated South Dakota State
2009    Quarterfinals    Defeated Stephen F. Austin
2009    Semifinals    Defeated Appalachian State
2009    Championship    Lost to Villanova
2008    First Round    Defeated Texas State
2008    Quarterfinals    Defeated Weber State
2008    Semifinals    Defeated James Madison
2008    Championship    Lost to Richmond
2007    First Round    Lost to Wofford
2006    First Round    Defeated McNeese State
2006    Quarterfinals    Defeated Southern Illinois
2006    Semifinals    Lost to Massachusetts
2005    First Round    Lost to Cal Poly
2004    First Round    Defeated Northwestern State
2004    Quarterfinals    Defeated New Hampshire
2004    Semifinals    Defeated Sam Houston State
2004    Championship    Lost to James Madison
2003    First Round    Lost to Western Illinois
2002    First Round    Defeated Northwestern State
2002    Quarterfinals    Lost to McNeese State
2001    First Round    Defeated Northwestern State
2001    Quarterfinals    Defeated Sam Houston State
2001    Semifinals    Defeated Northern Iowa
2001    Championship    Defeated Furman
2000    First Round    Defeated Eastern Illinois
2000    Quarterfinals    Defeated Richmond
2000    Semifinals    Defeated Appalachian State
2000    Championship    Lost to Georgia Southern
1999    First Round    Lost to Youngstown State
1998    First Round    Lost to Western Illinois
1997    First Round    Lost to McNeese State
1996    First Round    Defeated Nicholls State
1996    Quarterfinals    Defeated East Tennessee State
1996    Semifinals    Defeated Troy
1996    Championship    Lost to Marshall
1995    First Round    Defeated Eastern Kentucky
1995    Quarterfinals    Defeated Georgia Southern
1995    Semifinals    Defeated Stephen F. Austin
1995    Championship    Defeated Marshall
1994    First Round    Defeated Northern Iowa
1994    Quarterfinals    Defeated McNeese State
1994    Semifinals    Lost to Youngstown State
1993    First Round    Lost to Delaware
1989    First Round    Defeated Jackson State
1989    Quarterfinals    Defeated Eastern Illinois
1989    Semifinals    Lost to Georgia Southern
1988    First Round    Lost to Idaho
1982    First Round    Lost to Idaho

*all team stats through 11/14


Playoff Central