Mountaineers Take On No. 1 Montana Grizzlies, Loud Crowd in Semifinal
A black speaker sat on the 23-yard line Monday evening, a short Armanti Edwards pass away from where the Mountaineers offense worked on its game plan.
For 20 minutes, that speaker, along with the Kidd Brewer Stadium PA system, blared crowd noise onto the field.
The offense, though, worked through the racket.
If everything is bigger in Texas, maybe everything is louder in Montana. At least ASU football coaches think the Montana Grizzlies’ crowd will be.
“We’re just trying to get our players indoctrinated to the environment. It’s not a huge issue,” coach Jerry Moore said. “It’s pretty close to being like it is out there.”
The Mountaineers play at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Mont., against the No. 1-ranked Grizzlies in the FCS national semifinals.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN, which might be a good omen for the Mountaineers. They are 15-0 all-time when playing on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, including a 2-0 mark on the flagship channel.
The additional noise at practice was easily noticeable to players and visitors, and it isn’t something the coaches have done often.
“It was just like it’s going to be on Saturday,” said wide receiver Brian Quick. “They’re just trying to get us prepared for it to be loud up there.”
Washington-Grizzly Stadium is a 23,117-seat capacity stadium that is usually packed. Its enclosed seating arrangement, along with fans’ close proximity to the field and the fact that the playing surface is 20 feet below ground level, makes for a loud afternoon.
“We’re a team that doesn’t huddle, so it makes a lot of difference,” Moore said. “So two or three days [of practicing with the crowd noise] should help us. It helps you in the process of communicating. It really doesn’t have anything to do with the game itself. We do a lot of talking at the line of scrimmage, and it makes a difference.”
Still, some players aren’t worried about the noise that the Grizzly faithful will generate during the Mountaineers’ offensive series.
“I don’t think the noise will be too much of a factor,” running back Devon Moore said. “We’ve played in pretty loud places before. We went to LSU and to Michigan. I’m not really worried about the crowd.”
The worry, though, is about the Grizzlies themselves.
They spread the field and have a balanced attack. They average 163.9 rushing yards and 267.8 passing yards. Quarterback Andrew Selle has completed 63.3 percent of his passes and has thrown 24 touchdowns, compared to only five interceptions.
Like ASU, the Grizzlies have a big-time rusher. Chase Reynolds leads the Grizzlies with 1,245 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“We know that Montana is a passing team,” linebacker Jacque Roman said. “Our goal is to stop the run, but there will be more focus on the pass.”
ASU won its second-round playoff game 35-31 against Richmond on Saturday when Edwards connected with Matt Cline on a 4-yard pass with 10 seconds left.
The Grizzlies didn’t have a close game, as they walloped Stephen F. Austin 51-0. The Grizzlies, who lost to Richmond in the national championship game last season, were the recipients of 10 turnovers during the lopsided win last week.
LeGree Takes November Honor
Defensive back Mark LeGree was named the Southern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Month for November after he intercepted four passes in the month.
He intercepted passes in three of ASU’s four November games, including two in the Southern Conference championship game against Elon.
The junior finished the regular season with seven interceptions and is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the nation’s top FCS defensive players, for the second straight season.
Moore Named AFCA Regional Coach of the Year
Football coach Jerry Moore was named the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division I FCS Region 2 Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career.
He earned the honor after the Mountaineers won the Southern Conference championship and posted a 9-2 regular season record.
Moore also earned the honor in 1994, 1995, 2005, 2006 and 2008. He was recently named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year for a record seventh time. He’s also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, which is presented to the nation’s top FCS coach.