By Mick Holien
I guess when you have been around a football program so long you always are going to encounter competitive situations with coaches that were brethren, so to speak, in another life.
And for me it has always been that way since Jerome Souers took the helm at Northern Arizona some 20 years ago.
He always seemed to have former UM players as key parts of his staff dating back to Bill Smith, Grizzly former defensive coordinator and a superb player in his own rite at Boise State where the field is named in honor of his father, a legendary Bronco coach.
But this year it all goes a bit deeper.
The Griz are headed on a Beachliner today for Pocatello to face an upstart Idaho State team that’s right in the middle of things in the Big Sky Conference.
And at the helm is former offensive coordinator Rob Phenicie, who is in his inaugural head coaching position.
Matt Troxel, who dad quarterbacked Montana in another life and also is the former Hellgate coach left Bob Stitt’s staff after a short stint last summer to take over the Bengal offense a better position than he occupied on Mike Kramer staff.
And add to that of course that former Grizzly defensive boss Ty Gregorak is over there in Bozeman chomping at the bit to get a win streak going the way of the Bobcats after the Missoula win last season.
If playing against your buddies and trying to hang one on them provides the utmost of satisfaction well it’s sure there for Montana for the next few weeks.
For Montana since they got rid of the league monkey in Oregon last week with a circuit road win, Saturday presents a great opportunity for some validation.
But the Bengals protected their home venue last week with quarterback Tanner Gueller pacing a four-point win over Cal Poly with 341 air yards and a trio of TDs.
Montana has won 11 straight over Idaho State including a thriller overtimer the last time they met at the Mini Dome.
The last Bengal win in 2003 when ISU won with a field goal in double OT.
One has to figure the surprise of the season is how well the offense has clicked and how poorly the defense has performed.
The O has scored at least 40 in every game except against the Huskies but remember defense wins championships and it’s time for this one to be a factor