A new poll released by the University of Montana Athletic Department has the Montana Grizzlies finishing the football season at number two, behind perennial powerhouse North Dakota State.

We reached out to Associate Athletic Director for Football at UM Eric Taber for details of the new preseason poll released on Monday.

“We're in ‘talking season’ right now and the American Football Coaches Association the AFCA, that’s all the football coaches around the country are picking the Griz number two in their preseason poll, which is the first time this season, any media outlet or anybody's picked Montana number two in the preseason polls, so it's nice to be in that rarefied air of one of the top two teams in the country,” began Taber.

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Taber said North Dakota State is still the solid number one pick.

“Still North Dakota State got the bulk of the first place votes and it's hard to argue with that when you've had the amount of success that they have had in the last couple of years,” he said. “So, North Dakota State is at number one, Montana number two, just edging out South Dakota State at number three, and then our neighbors down the road in Bozeman (MSU), number four, and Villanova rounding out their top five.”

Taber said the Grizzlies are strong in all aspects of the game going into the 2022 football season.

“Montana just seems to be going from strength to strength this preseason,” he said. “Obviously our defense is just loaded. We've got guys like Buck Buchanan finalists Justin Ford and Patrick O'Connell coming back. The offense has some stars coming back with guys like (running backs) Marcus Knight and Nick Ostmo. Lucas Johnson, the quarterback who came to Montana from San Diego State as a grad transfer; he's getting nice and settled in with the team so far for fall camp.”

Taber said when Bobby Hauck returned to coach the Grizzlies for the second time, he reestablished a term that defines his team's, ‘return to dominance’.

“The mantra has been RTD ‘return to dominance’,” he said. “Part of that is being selected high in the polls and being one of the top few teams in the country. But part of that is also winning championships. The polls are one thing but, you know, putting the trophies in the cases is the real barometer for that success. So, I know that's the goal, and it's good that we've got the pieces in place where outside entities at least think we're capable of doing these things. So now he just has to go do it.”

The Grizzlies will play three home games in September starting with the season opener on September 3 against Northwestern State of Louisiana.

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