MISSOULA — Montana (4-1, 1-0 Big Sky) will play its first conference home game when it takes on Idaho State (2-2, 1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The following are key Bengals players to keep an eye on during the game, which will be broadcast on Root Sports.
Quarterback: Matt Struck, No. 8
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound junior from Central Point, Oregon, returned to throw six touchdowns passes this past week in a win after missing the prior week with an injury. Struck has completed 57.1% of his passes for 761 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s averaging just 13.3 completions per game, splitting time in the second game, but has still thrown for 254 yards per game. Struck has been picked off just once in 70 attempts. He’s gained 54 yards on 19 rushes. Backup Gunnar Amos had completed 46.5% of his passes for 186 yards with four interceptions in two games, but he retired on Monday.
Running back/fullback: Ty Flanagan, No. 24
The 5-foot-10, 203-pound senior running back from Las Vegas, Nevada, was an all-conference honorable mention in 2018 and has been Idaho State’s workhorse. Flanagan has run for 304 yards in four games, averaging 76 yards. No other player on the roster has more than 36 rushing yards. Flanagan has carried the ball 74 times out of the team’s 147 rushes (50.3%), averaging 4.1 yards per run. He hasn’t run for a touchdown; the lone rushing score belongs to Struck. Not much of a receiving threat, Flanagan has just three catches totaling 10 yards.
Wide receiver/tight end: Mitch Gueller, No. 2
The 6-foot-3, 224-pound senior wide receiver from Rochester, Washington, is on the verge of becoming Idaho State’s all-time receiving leader after an All-American season. Gueller ranks second with 2,808 yards, close behind Rodrick Rumble’s record of 2,863 yards. He has nine catches for 169 yards with two touchdowns this season. Receiver Tanner Conner leads the team with 342 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. Wideout Michael Dean has added 289 yards and three touchdown grabs. Tight end Austin Campbell has 10 catches for 113 yards.
Offensive line: Dallen Collins, No. 58
The 6-foot-2, 291-pound senior center from Caldwell, Idaho, has anchored the offensive line since 2016, when he was named a freshman All-American. Collins has started 35 of Idaho State’s past 36 games, all at center. The Bengals returned four of their five starting offensive linemen from last year and have started the same group two of the past three weeks after an early injury to a tackle. The other expected starters are Jacob Angel and Dakota Wilson at the tackle spots and Preston Holfeltz and Jacob Molenaar at the guard spots.
Defensive line: Kainoa Fuiava, No. 94
The 6-foot-4, 303-pound junior defensive end from Downey, California, was named an All-Big Sky honorable mention in 2018, his first season as a starter for Idaho State after transferring from BYU. Fuiava leads all Bengals defensive linemen with 19 total tackles and has one sack in four games after posting 50 tackles and two sacks last year. On the rest of the line, defensive tackle Gilbert Varela has 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks and defensive end TJ Togiai has 13 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. Coming off the bench, Garrett Crane has the Bengals’ lone fumble recovery.
Linebacker: Luke Holloway, No. 43
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound senior outside linebacker from San Diego, California, is having a breakout year early on after playing in just eight games last year. Holloway has 24 tackles in four games, more than the 19 he had in 2018. He’s made his way into the backfield, tallying four tackles for loss, three sacks and one quarterback hurry. Finding his way to the ball, Holloway has both of Idaho State’s forced fumbles. Fellow linebacker Kody Graves leads the team with 35 tackles to go with his two TFLs, Connor Wills has 25 tackles, and Oshea Trujillo has one of the team’s two picks.
Cornerback/safety: Christian McFarland, No. 5
The 6-foot, 194-pound senior safety from Sacramento, California, is in his second season seeing regular playing time for Idaho State after transferring from junior college. McFarland has one of the Bengals’ two interceptions, running it back for 64 yards. He’s tied for fourth on Idaho State with 24 tackles to go with his one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Fellow safety Adkin Aguirre is second on ISU with 26 tackles and has two pass breakups. At cornerback, Jay Irvine has 11 tackles, two breakups and one sack, while Anthony Ricks has seven tackles and one sack.
Special teams: Kevin Ryan, No. 90
The 6-foot, 160-pound sophomore kicker and punter from Mesa, Arizona, has handled both field goals and punts for Idaho State. In his first season as the Bengals’ field goal kicker, Ryan has made four of his five field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards, having one kick blocked. He’s also converted on 11 of his 12 extra point attempts. Michael Dean has returned all nine punts for 50 yards, an average of 5.6 yards per return with a long of 23. Soujah Gasu has three of ISU’s five kickoff returns, totaling 61 yards, an average of 20.3 yards with a long of 28 yards.