UMW football holds first summer scrimmage

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
State of the camp address

UMW Head Football Coach Ryan Nourse speaks to his players following Saturday’s scrimmage on Vigilante Field, where the Bulldogs will hold their final summer scrimmage on Saturday at 1 p.m. M.P. Regan photo

Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” featured among the songs played over the PA system early in Saturday afternoon’s University of Montana Western football team scrimmage.

And while the overall sentiment of that classic rock tune about young men making an enthusiastic return to what they enjoy most rang true, the lyrics and the band’s name strayed when it came to the details.

For one, the team’s roster is not thin, but thicker than it’s ever been with players, more than 100 of which swarmed into UMW’s fall camp since it began Aug. 3—following a season away from football by UMW due to the pandemic.

And any Lizzy out on Vigilante Field for the often hard-hitting affair Saturday would have been Lizzie Borden—playing for the UMW defense, consistently, ruthlessly chopping down the offense, which had troubles getting details right as well.

“It was just slovenly,” declared UMW Head Coach Ryan Nourse of his offense’s efforts Saturday, which for a long while Saturday only set up points on relatively long field goals by placekickers following stalled drives.

“There were lots of mistakes, selfinflicted wounds— dropping the ball, fumbling the ball, pretty simple stuff,” added Nourse, who also serves as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“The quarterbacks were off. They were making good reads, but had tons of overthrows,” continued Nourse, citing another aspect of his offense’s poor play.

“The quarterbacks were just super inconsistent. Their decision making was good, they are generally making the appropriate decisions, but just not delivering the ball. They missed a lot of guys who were open,” said Nourse of problems on offense he saw way too much of in the practices leading up to the scrimmage

“Unfortunately, it’s been pretty habitual—not as bad as today, but there has been a lot of slovenliness. We haven’t been accurate and crisp,” said Nourse, of his offense’s overall performance during fall camp.

The defense offered an abundance of positives on the other side of the line—and especially when making tackles for negatives during their numerous raids onto the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.

“If we play like we did on d-line today we’ll be good,” said Nourse, who took over as UMW’s head coach in 2011.

“We played 12 deep on d-line. You saw some of the same names out there, like Reese Artz and Tanner Harrell and James Aragon,” noted Nourse of three of his top returning defensive linemen.

“And we had some people really contributing on d-line that are new. Kenai Liua was fantastic,” said Nourse of the redshirt freshman from Hawaii.

“And Bryer Monson keeps coming after you,” stated Nourse, citing the high-energy Idaho product who was a redshirt freshman in 2020.

The d-line will continue to be capably backed by a group of veteran linebackers that includes Kyle Schulte, the senior who earned second-team All-Frontier Conference honors in his previous playing season of 2019, and Joe Caciedo, a first-team all-conference pick in 2019.

“Braden Swank is already a starter already for us at corner,” announced Nourse of the transfer defensive back who boasts the posture and swagger of a shut-down corner.

“He’s confident and fast and really smart.”

UMW’s special teams lived up to their name Saturday, with a series of relatively long field goals, as well as even longer kickoff returns by veteran Trey Mounts and newcomer Matt Jorgensen.

“He is fast,” said Nourse of Jorgensen, a redshirt freshman from Washington who took a kickoff return to the house on Saturday.

“He’s had a good camp. He has improved dramatically since his redshirt year last year. We are looking for him to step up on special teams and make some plays for us.”

And the offense, which is typically behind its counterparts on defense in August, also boasted some highlight moments and performances.

Colton McPhee and Reese Neville stood out at running back.

“Reese Neville had a great day. He showed his outstanding athleticism and did a good job,” said Nourse of the transfer into UMW’s running back corps, for which Colton McPhee exhibited his consistency again Saturday running behind an offensive line that boasts a lot of proven veteran performers.

“Our o-line was really good early, but they’re in bad physical shape, so they got tired later, and fatigue took its toll on those guys. They started fast but couldn’t finish, so we’ll have to do a better job of getting those guys in shape,” said Nourse of a group that will be led again by senior Noah Danielson, a starter since his freshman year.

“We’ve got two weeks to go to get in better shape,” added Nourse.

“And hopefully, we can eliminate the mistakes. Most of that will just involve intelligence training. We’re just not a very smart team right now, and when you’re not smart, bad things are going to happen to you,” said Nourse, whose offense got flagged for holding three times inside the opponent’s red zone on Saturday.

“But our kids are good kids. They have character and a lot of pride,” said Nourse, whose team will hold its final summer scrimmage at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21, in preparation for their season opener at Vigilante Field against Frontier Conference rivals Carroll College on Aug. 28.

“They will keep working hard and be at their best on August 28.”