Montana 2016 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Montana Grizzlies
Big Sky
During his first year at the helm in Montana in 2015, Coach Bob Stitt led the Grizzlies to the playoffs. He has done the same in year two. This time around the Grizzlies hope to avoid North Dakota State in the second round. Last season NDSU easily handled Montana by a score of 37-6 following the Grizzlies narrow 24-17 victory over South Dakota State.
2016 Record: 6-5, 3-5
Coach: Bob Stitt
Big Wins: 9/3 St. Francis (41-31), 9/10 at Northern Iowa (20-14)
Bad Losses: 10/22 at Northern Iowa (34-45), 11/12 at Northern Colorado (25-28)
Montana has a very potent pass offense led by quarterback Brady Gustafson. In nine games he threw for 2,785 yards and 25 touchdowns. The 6-7 senior is a very experienced signal caller and he also has a great stable of wide receivers to work with in 2016. Perhaps the most surprising is freshman Jerry Louie-McGee. Despite playing in just eight games, Louie-McGee leads the team with 73 receptions. Justin Calhoun, Keenan Curran and James Homan are all deeper threats and Gustafson has thrived with so many quality options at his disposal. If John Nguyen or Jeremy Calhoun are able to create at least the threat of a ground game, Montana’s offense is very tough to stop. 
The defense has played very well this season too, but there have been some exceptions, most notably in the 42-41 loss at Cal Poly and the 45-34 loss at Northern Arizona. Cal Poly’s option offense is always tough for teams to defend, but the Mustangs were able to grind out plenty of first downs on the ground and plenty of big plays through the air. Northern Arizona only totaled 406 yards against Montana, but their balanced attack was efficient and effective. Normally Montana’s defense is very good in the red zone, but that was not the case against the Lumberjacks. Another balanced offense that can avoid mistakes could give this defense trouble and then it is up to the offense to keep up.
Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: John Nguyen, RB, 679 yards
Passing: Brady Gustafson, QB, 2785 yards
Receiving: Jerry Louie-McGee, WR, 651 yards
Tackles: Josh Buss, LB, 43
Sacks: Ryan Johnson, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Justin Strong, S, 3
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 160.0 (54th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 333.9 (4, 2)
Total Offense: 499.9 (6, 2)
Scoring Offense: 41.7 (6, 2)
Rushing Defense: 129.1 (25, 2)
Pass Defense: 216.1 (55, 2)
Total Defense: 345.2 (31, 1)
Scoring Defense: 27.3 (56, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (52, 5)
Sacks: 2.60 (22, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.30 (79, 11)
Recent Playoff Appearances:
2015    First Round                 Defeated South Dakota State
2015    Second Round            Lost to North Dakota State
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 11/12