MISSOULA — As the Montana Grizzlies were enjoying a beautiful night on Saturday for their home opener, the Drake Bulldogs were riding out a thunderstorm back in Iowa.
Drake's game against Division II William Jewell College was going well initially, as the Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter off a touchdown run by Braeden Hartwig. But with 7:18 to go in the first frame, lightning stopped the game. Drake's game — like the Nebraska-Akron contest and the Iowa State-South Dakota State matchup — was eventually canceled due to the storm.
That cancellation makes it more difficult for the now No. 14-ranked Grizzlies to scout the Bulldogs ahead of their Saturday afternoon contest.
When asked about anyone who stands out on Drake's team, Montana coach Bobby Hauck picked up Drake's two-deep off the table at his weekly press conference and said, "I'm looking at this, like you. We don't have film. So I don't know. I wish I did."
He added: "Unfortunately they had their game canceled after a series on Saturday. So we don't have any film on them to prepare for. They've got that advantage, which is significant. We'll be doing a little guessing again this week as to what we're going to see.
"We also know that they've got a very veteran team with eight starters that are seniors on either side of the ball. Most of them fifth-year seniors. We're going to be playing an experienced football team that'll know what they heck they're doing."
Montana kicks off against Drake on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Montana skyrocketed in the polls, jumping up 10 spots to No. 14 in the STATS FCS Top 25. The last time Montana was in the top 15 was Week 7 of the 2016 season when the Grizzlies were ranked No. 10.
Junior linebacker Dante Olson racked up a game-high 13 tackles on Saturday with a sack, an interception, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry, nearly filling out the defensive stat sheet. His efforts earned him the Big Sky Conference's defensive player of the week award.
"It's good for our defense to have somebody named player of the week," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said on Monday. "Obviously defense is a team endeavor, run and pass, and (Jesse Sims) is using up blockers if Dante's making tackles. So it's good for our defense."
Olson's 13 tackles were tied for the lead in the Big Sky during the first week of the season. On a national level, his 13 tackles placed him in the top 10 for all FCS football players this week.
Hauck wasted no time moving onto Drake — as much as he could — in Monday's press conference, but he started out on a positive note regarding the Northern Iowa game.
"Great to be 1-0 on this Monday rather than the inverse of that. It certainly was a fun night in our stadium on Saturday night," Hauck said Monday. "From a team and personal standpoint, it was just electric and I enjoyed being back out there with our people, as did our players. It was good to get on the winning track right out the gate over a really, really fine well-coached football team."
Players who were brought up that stood out in a good way were Olson, kicker Tim Semenza, offensive linemen Colton Keintz and Conlan Beaver and cornerback Justin Calhoun.
Hauck on Semenza: "You have to be mentally tough at all positions in football. He made some big kicks. I was proud of Tim for rallying and being perfect after (the missed PAT)."
Hauck on Keintz, Beaver: "Colton and Beav did a nice job. Certainly the O-Line works as a unit and we have a lot of improvement to make with that unit, but there's some good things there."
Hauck on Calhoun: "I thought he did a good job. It was a good first outing by Justin."
But, as always, there's something to work on.
"We need to get better in a lot of areas," Hauck said. "We need to run the ball better. We need to be better on third down on both sides of the ball. We need to attend to detail better across the board — specifically in the kicking game. We need to be more responsible with our returners. That's a pretty good start."