MISSOULA — It's a must-win situation going forward for the Montana Grizzlies as this point in the season.
After dropping three straight games to fall to 5-3 overall, and 2-3 in Big Sky Conference play, the No. 16 Griz are in a tough spot with three remaining games, but head coach Bobby Hauck remains confident in his group down the stretch.
"Both games we were out with significant contributors on both sides of the ball, so you know, I'm not going to act all overwrought or act like everything is broken," Hauck said. "We just need to go perform and get a win this weekend and that leads us into Cal Poly and we need a win, as I mentioned. This has become a huge game for our team certainly, just an enormous game for our season."
After a gauntlet in the month of October against Idaho, Sacramento State and Weber State, the Grizzlies have a prime candidate to rebound against in Cal Poly. The Mustangs are 1-7 overall this season, including an 0-5 mark in Big Sky play, making them the only program in the league without a conference victory.
Still, it's a game the Griz need to win, and on paper, should be able to.
"Well we'll be urgent and we'll prepare," Hauck said. "It goes to practice time and mental preparation in terms of the assignment, and studying the opponent, and then giving great effort in practice and trying to get everybody from the scout team giving us good looks on down the line. That's what we need."
While in theory it's a three-game season that will determine Montana's fate, for the players and coaches, it remains the same: one day at a time.
"We can't change anything in the past," senior safety Robby Hauck said. "Only thing we can do is go out and win on Saturday and that's our No. 1 goal each week so just to prepare to be able to do that and go out and execute."
Health is a key for the Griz right now, as UM was without starting quarterback Lucas Johnson against Weber State, and All-American linebacker Patrick O'Connell also exited the game in the first quarter, among a number of other players that were out including starting safety Garrett Graves and special teams asset Jaxon Lee.
It's another challenge, but Robby Hauck said even with players out, the expectation remains the same in game.
"We don't even blink," Hauck said. "When guys get subbed in or because of injuries, you're playing, you're going and we've got complete trust in anyone that enters the game that they're going to do their job and their 1/11th."
If Johnson is to return, the offense may get a much-needed boost, with that side of the ball needing to find more answers down the stretch if the Griz hope to succeed.
"Honestly just getting better every week, just trying to tidy up some of the little errors, things we just felt we didn't do well enough in the previous games," senior wide receiver Malik Flowers said. "Just kind of doing exactly what coach Hauck says, focus on the next game, trying to get better and just making sure that we're implementing our formula for winning."
WATCH THE GAMES ON FREE TV:
November 5: MSU at Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. Kick-off is at 2 p.m. and it will be broadcast on KTGF.
November 5: Cal Poly at Montana in Missoula. Kick-off is at 6 p.m. and it will be broadcast on KRTV.