Possibly the biggest worry for the Vikings heading into their matchup at Montana State this Saturday is their opponent from a week ago. Yes, in a sense, the mere fact that Portland State played Montana just six days ago may be the No. 1 factor in determining how well the team performs against the Bobcats.
Possibly the biggest worry for the Vikings heading into their matchup at Montana State this Saturday is their opponent from a week ago.
Yes, in a sense, the mere fact that Portland State played Montana just six days ago may be the No. 1 factor in determining how well the team performs against the Bobcats.
Head coach Jerry Glanville said it is all about emotions.
“The bottom line is it’s hard to get that emotional two weeks in a row,” Glanville said. “Montana State will have the same emotion towards us. We have to find it again.”
For the Vikings, playing Montana is a completely different experience than taking on any other opponent. And, with that, comes an inordinate amount of emotion that is exerted in preparation for the Grizzlies.
Glanville said the key to finding success against the Bobcats on Saturday will be replicating that same level of emotion, which begins with not downplaying the matchup with Montana State simply because they are not the Grizzlies.
“We talked about it with the players and told them ‘The best plan won’t work unless we find that emotion again,'” Glanville said.
Aside from the emotional concerns, Glanville said stopping the Bobcats’ potent rushing attack is at the top of his list of priorities.
Glanville’s eyebrows rose as he spoke about senior running back Demetrius Crawford, who ranks second in the Big Sky at over 92 yards per game and almost five yards per carry.
“He’s a big-time back,” Glanville said of Crawford, who rushed for 160 yards in a win over Northern Arizona last Saturday. “He’s a darter and he makes you miss.”
A rash of injuries has forced the Bobcats to shuffle their depth chart at quarterback several times this season, and it looks like last week’s third-stringer Mark Desin will start against the Vikings.
With that said, Glanville believes Portland State needs to focus on stopping Crawford before the Vikings turn their attention to the Montana State passing game, which is statistically the conference’s worst at just over 173 yards per game.
One wrinkle in the Montana State offense to keep an eye on is the option. For the third week in a row, the Vikings will be facing off against the “Utah option,” which Portland State has been successful defending thus far.
“I hope we can stop it one more time,” Glanville said.
This week, offensive coordinator Mouse Davis has had a side-by-side comparison of the two team’s outputs from last season’s matchup written on the white board behind his desk.
On Thursday afternoon, Davis filed through the statistics one category at a time, pointing out that each was comparable, that is until he got to the line that said “Interceptions.”
When he reached that category, Davis tapped the board–which showed Portland State throwing five and the Bobcats tossing three–and asserted that if the Vikings want to beat Montana State, they must cut down on the turnovers.
Over the past two weeks, Portland State has thrown six interceptions, and against a defense Davis claims is “aggressive” and “covers well,” it will be crucial for the Vikings quarterbacks to be careful with the ball. “We started so poorly last week,” Davis said. “And it gets you in a negative point of view, and that can’t happen.”
Davis said the Vikings are a bit “nicked up,” as they will not have senior offensive tackle Landan Laurusaitis or senior wide receiver Ty Coleman, and could be without junior wide receivers Mario D’Ambrosio and Raymond Fry III.
On the defensive side, Glanville said senior cornerback Reggie Jones might not be healthy enough to play Saturday, leaving junior Jordan Brown to most likely start in his stead.
Regardless of who is injured or healthy, Glanville said practice was a bit different this week due to the fact that the Vikings are being forced to take on two formidable squads in the Grizzlies and Bobcats in the same number of weeks.
“This is the least hitting we’ve ever done,” Glanville said. “Hopefully that will translate into us hitting on game day.”