Saturday, November 14, 1:00 p.m.
Griffiths Stadium, Saskatoon
Broadcast available at www.ck750.com (pregame show at 12:30 p.m.)
Broadcast also available on Shaw (channel 10 in Saskatoon, channels 299 and 407 on Shaw Direct)
Records coming in: Calgary 8-1; Saskatchewan 8-1
Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 10 regular season wins to Calgary’s 5 since 1999 (Saskatchewan won the only meeting of the two teams this season 34-33 in overtime on September 4, 2009).
Playoff History: The Huskies and Dinos have not met in the playoffs since 1995, when the Dinos won 32-30 in overtime. In 1994 the Huskies won 34-17.
This will be the first time in three years the Huskies have hosted the Hardy Cup game. They have previously hosted the game in 2005, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1990 and 1989.
What’s on the line: The Hardy Cup Canada West Championship. This would be the Dinos’ second championship in as many years, while it would be the Huskies’ fifth in the past eight seasons. The winner of the game will advance to the Uteck Bowl in Halifax to play the winner of the Atlantic University Sport conference.
• Erik Glavic, Quarterback, Calgary: Coach Blake Nill describes him as, “the most dangerous player in Canada West. He can turn a broken play into a 40 yard gain thanks to his running ability.” Glavic had 2186 yards passing and 503 on the ground, garnering him a Hec Crighton Trophy nomination as the MVP of Canada West.
• Matt Walter, Running Back, Calgary: Walter had 1103 yards rushing, a Canada West leading average of 137.9 per game in 2009, not to mention twelve touchdowns. Walter is a threat to receive as well, with 131 yards on the year.
• Chase Moore, Linebacker, Calgary: Moore led the defence with 43 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception. Moore, in his fifth year, is quick and is a threat to blitz the quarterback on most plays.
• Matt Grohn, Defensive Back, Calgary: Grohn, along with Steve Truzak, were the only returning starters a secondary that struggled all season, finishing last in pass defence. Grohn was one of the few bright spots, with 38.5 tackles and an interception.
• Cory Jones, Receiver, Saskatchewan: Jones had a sub-par season, with 190 yards and two touchdowns, but picked up the pace against Regina in the first playoff game, finishing with 120 yards and three touchdowns.
• Hubert Buydens, Offensive Lineman, Saskatchewan: The fifth-year Buydens is the leader of an excellent group of offensive linemen that includes a member in each year of eligibility. This group has blocked for a running game that has averaged 214.8 yards a game over the past four regular season games and the playoff game last week.
• Zach Hart, Defensive End, Saskatchewan: Another player whose impact was felt more in the second half of the season, Hart finished the season with 29.5 tackles and six sacks. Always a threat off the edge, Hart will be a key part of stopping the Calgary running attack.
• Nico Higgs, Linebacker, Saskatchewan: Although Higgs missed the first two games of the season, he still finished as one of the leaders on defence, with 28 tackles. His most important stat, however, is his pressure behind the line of scrimmage, where he finished with 6.5 tackles for a loss. His speed is a factor that was missing in the previous game with the Dinos.
Roster moves: The Dinos are healthy coming in, with receiver Matt Little the only starter not available.
Safety Bryce McCall will be a gametime decision for the Huskies. Notably, the Dinos will be seeing linebacker Nico Higgs, defensive tackle Steve Kovach, running back Jeff Hassler, and receiver Cory Jones for the first time this season, as all were injured in the first match.
Key matchups: The running of both Matt Walter and Erik Glavic against the Huskies front seven will be a key to victory for both sides. For the Dinos, they inflicted a lot of damage running between the tackles this season, except against the Huskies. However, the scrambling ability of Glavic paid off in the first game, as he was able to run away from trouble, as the young defensive ends for the Huskies over pursued and lost containment more often than not. The Huskies will need to limit their pursuit and keep Glavic inside the pocket, which will allow a quick linebacker like Nico Higgs the opportunity to put backfield pressure on the quarterback.
On the other side of the ball, the Huskies running game will be relied upon more than in the first game against the Dinos, as the Huskies will have three healthy running backs ready for the game, including Tyler O’Gorman and Jeff Hassler. The Saskatchewan running game has been successful thanks to the play of the big and experienced Huskies offensive line, and when the running game is going, it opens up the passing game. The Dinos defensive front seven will be on the spot to stop the running game and force the Huskies to rely on the pass. Linebackers Chase Moore and Andrea Bonaventura, who combined for 83.5 tackles and three sacks, and interior lineman Lyndon Gaydosh and Josh Symons, will be tasked with filling the interior holes and taking down the elusive Huskie running backs. Calgary had the best run defence in the regular season, but have yet to face the Huskie running attack that averaged 222 yards in final four games of the season, a ground game that was second only to the 299 yards per game averaged by the Dinos.
What to expect: On paper, this should turn out to be a back and forth game with plays on both sides of the ball no matter what unit is on the field. While the Dinos offence has been all but unstoppable in each of the last seven games of the season, the Huskies defence has been just as solid, especially in the redzone, allowing only nine touchdowns, the only team not to allow more than 10 touchdowns in scoring range.
This is a different Huskies team than the one the Dinos saw in week one. It took four games before the Huskies found their offence, and since then, no game has been close. The Dinos have rolled along all season, especially on offence, and they will move the ball during the game. The difference will be which team capitalizes in scoring position, and which team can limit the mistakes.
Turnovers and drive-sustaining penalties were the Huskies’ downfall in the first game this season. Both Calgary touchdowns came off of turnovers, and poor penalties like unnecessary roughness calls kept Calgary drives alive. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes will likely be victor at the end of this game. This is where the Huskies have tightened up in the latter half of the season, finishing +7 in the giveaway/takeaway department, leading Canada West. They will have to continue this, while forcing mistakes from the Dinos, who finished +1 in turnover differential on the season.
Another key factor in this game will be the crowd. A crowd of 6,000 to 7,000 is expected, and the noise they made resulted in penalties and mistakes by the opposition in the first two games. While the Dinos claim to be excited to play in front of a big, hostile crowd, they will likely not enjoy it much if the score is close and their offence is on the field in a key situation.
The Huskies will need to remain focused on the job at hand and concentrate on playing a full, physical 60 minutes on both sides of the ball if they are to stop the Dinos offence and quiet the critics. The Dinos have many ties to Halifax, the destination of the Uteck Bowl, and St. Mary’s University, a possible opponent next week. If they are looking past the Huskies, or are overconfident, even for a second, that may be the difference in the game.
This is the game everyone was anticipating from the start of the season. It doesn’t get any better than this. GO, DOGS, GO!!!