Just imagine the time it would take someone to count from one to 2,100. That is the number of miles that separate Missoula, Mont. and Knoxville.

When the Montana Grizzlies and Tennessee Volunteers meet for the first time to kick off the college football season Saturday inside Neyland Stadium, each team will be led out onto the field by their second-year head coaches, Robin Pflugrad and Derek Dooley.

Despite posting a winning record of 7-4 (5-3 Big Sky) in his first year at the helm after taking over for the program’s second-winningest coach Bobby Hauk, Pflugrad and the Grizzlies saw the team’s streak of 17-consecutive playoff appearances come to an end.

“Last year I think we were picked to win it (national championship),” Pflugrad said. “We are not preparing any different than we did last year or particularly any year before.”

Expectations are high for the Grizzlies this season, who were ranked No. 12 in the FCS preseason poll.

Taking the snaps at quarterback for Montana will be sophomore Jordan Johnson, while junior Gerald Kemp, an option-type quarterback, may see some action as well. The two inexperienced signal callers will have to replace graduated senior quarterback Justin Roper, who threw for over 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago.

In six appearances last season, Johnson was 15-of-20 passing with 44 yards and one touchdown. Kemp finished second on the team in rushing with 45 carries for 224 yards.

“It is going to be an awesome experience,” Johnson said. “We don’t have anything to lose, we just need to go down there and play our game and see what happens.”

As far as the running back situation goes, it will be a three-man backfield with juniors Peter Nguyen and Dan Moore, and freshman Jordan Canada.

Nguyen and Moore combined last season for 79 rushing yards, as they played behind the programs all-time leading rusher Chase Reynolds, who led the team last year in rushing yards (982) and receptions (40).

“It might take us multiple running backs for us to achieve our goals,” Pflugrad said.

Offensively, the Grizzlies averaged 31.7 points per game last season, which was fourth in the Big Sky. They also averaged 139.9 rushing yards a game to go along with 233.5 passing yards.

The Griz will be running a hurry-up, spread-option attack on offense.

Defensively, the Grizzlies gave up 22.1 points per game, which was second in the league, as well as giving up 149.8 rushing yards a game and 140 passing yards.

One defensive player that the Vols will have to keep on their radar Saturday will be senior cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

The 6-foot-2 FCS All-American recorded 44 tackles last season and was second on the team with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He will also return kickoffs this year alongside Nguyen, who averaged 24.8 yards per return last season.

The Grizzlies are also very strong at linebacker. The team’s two leading tacklers, Jordan Tripp and Caleb McSurdy, combined last year for 211 tackles (16.5 TFL) and four sacks.

Senior kicker Brody McKnight, who ranks seventh in career scoring at UM with 271 points, connected on 14 of 18 field goals last season, including a career-long of 53 yards.