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Senior wide receiver Keenan Curran pulls in a pass during a drill in practice on during the third week of spring ball. 

MISSOULA — Montana's faces at wide receiver from last year's squad remain the same, but how they'll play next year will be slightly different. 

Those differences from the 2017 season are blatantly obvious at spring practices. 

"We're coming from a system where they didn't have to block a lot and be physical," Montana's offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach said. "I think that's been a big change for them. They've taken to it well. They're aggressive. They've become tougher. They're a lot of young guys with a little bit of age mixed in. It's a pretty cool group if you ask me."

The oldest of the group is Keenan Curran, a rising senior who's been a vocal leader for the past several years. 

He's a big fan of the Montana's aggressive style of play.

"We love it. That's the way you play football," Curran, who led the team in receiving yards last year, said. "It's physical. You get some bumps and bruises, but that's the way football is supposed to be played to be physical and it makes us up our game. We should be a physical receiving corps. We gotta go out there and beat up the DBs."

The younger ones, like rising junior Jerry-Louie-McGee and rising sophomore Samori Toure have also bought into the new system. 

Louie-McGee's transformation stands out to Rosenbach. 

"Jerry's really changed the way he's played," Rosenbach said. "He's become a physical, tough kid. He's probably always had that in him, it's just we're asking him to do a little more now."

Louie-McGee was first on the team in receptions last year and second in terms of yardage. 

And Toure, last year's No. 3 wideout in terms of receiving yards, is a fan of the more physical style of play too. 

"It's getting us tougher, so come game day, we're not going to be soft," Toure said. "We're going to keep going at it, becoming more resilient."

Receivers in blocking sets is another change too, but again, the wideouts embrace the change. 

"If the running backs are running the ball and we have a blocking job, the team can't be successful unless we're doing our best blocking," Curran said. 

Toure added: "We weren't involved in a lot of blocking sets last year, so that's something Coach (Brent) Pease has been really helpful with, working on our technique, being in the right position."

Pease, who played for the Grizzlies in the 1980s, is back at his alma mater as the associate head coach and the wide receivers coach. 

He started his coaching career at UM in the early 1990s, last coaching at Montana in 1998 — 20 years ago. 

"It's a little different," Pease said of being back. "I've been gone for so long, sometimes, 20 years, people don't even realize you were gone. I've been a lot of places, but I have a lot of friends on the outside. It's good to be back around them, see them again."

Since last coaching at UM, he's been with Northern Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor, Boise State, Florida, Washington and UTEP. 

Since being officially hired by Montana in February, Pease has seen an elevated level of effort and consistency in his players. And that's something he likes to see.

"They enjoy being coached and it's a new challenge for them," Pease said. "There's a lot of good with it.

"(It's about) buying in. That's what it's all about and now their game is well-rounded. It's complete. They know they're not completely perfect yet and they're always working to be as good as the best version of themselves, but they're buying into their game being well-rounded."

NOTES: Montana's next, and final, spring "practice" is the spring game, which will be held at Washington-Grizzly Stadium at 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available at the Adams Center box office, GrizTix.com. Red's Bar, The Press Box, Paradise Falls, Stockman's Bar and Universal Athletic in Missoula.

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Amie Just covers Griz football and Missoula-area preps. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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