MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia says only one of his players had ever been to Montana, very few have actually seen snow and a lot of them don't own winter coats.
That's all going to change this weekend when the Chanticleers (11-2) take on eighth-seeded Montana (10-2) in the second round of the FCS playoffs in Missoula.
The temperature for Saturday's noon kickoff could be below zero, making it the coldest game ever played at Washington Grizzly Stadium. The National Weather Service is forecasting wind chills as low as 36 below in Missoula on Saturday morning, with the winds decreasing some in the afternoon.
The Chanticleers traveled 2,500 miles from Conway, S.C. — where temperatures have been in the 70s — to Missoula on Thursday. When they hit the practice field Thursday evening the temperature was 2 degrees.
"We want the guys to be able to put on shoulder pads, we want them to have on their helmets, we want them to get used to running around, catching the ball, throwing the ball in real cold weather," Moglia said. "You can't acclimate to the cold in 48 hours, but you can at least get a little feel so you'll have a better understanding on what to expect."
They also discussed the importance of layering clothes, the advantages of skin cream and possibly serving chicken broth at halftime.
Still, Moglia said the weather is an advantage for Montana. Coastal Carolina tight end Thomas Pauciello, who is from Connecticut, said it will be a factor.
"It's definitely a difference in playing in that cold of weather," Pauciello said Wednesday. "It obviously hurts a lot more when you get tackled because your body is all cold so when you hit the ground, it doesn't feel too good.
"But it's all in your mind, I think. If you go out there and say you will be all right, it's all mental."
Griz defensive lineman Alex Bienemann welcomes the cold.
"I say bring it on — let the temp keep dropping," Bienemann said. "I hope the wind chill puts us beneath zero. I think it's fun to get a team from a different climate, get them up here, get them the classic Montana climate, classic Montana football and challenge them to beat us in our own element. It should be fun."