To put it in baseball terms, this was a no-hitter.
By leaving QB Laurence Nixon untouched for most of the night, the men in the trenches led by a slew of backups, played a near-flawless game and for the first time this season, have a big fat zero in the sack column to show for their efforts. Much has been made of the injury situation surrounding the team but guys keep stepping up. Darcy Hinds, Ryan Kemp, Brandon Myre and Burton Haig have all gone in and filled the shoes of their predecessors, going about their business while not missing a beat.
This really should come as no surprise to fans. The O-line has traditionally been the strength of Brian Towriss led teams but in the last couple years, the production had seemed to dip. The last four weeks have shown that the once reliable facet of the Huskies game plan has become reliable once again.
Everyone always hears that the game is won and lost in the trenches as it is a cliché that often can be used just to sound intelligent. But the fact of the matter is, a football team without an adequate front four is like an essay without a thesis statement. On the Huskies first TD drive, two pass plays were executed followed by three straight run plays culminating in a trip to the end zone. Those runs for first downs are the most discouraging and frustrating to a defense. (just watch the last three Rider games to conjure up those emotions).
We can’t say all this without acknowledging the fact that Ben Coakwell and Dathan Thomas both had very strong games and continue to establish themselves as the country’s most formidable 1-2 punch. However, either of these running backs may feel obligated in the next little while to take care of the restaurant bill in the future for their linemen. The performance of the men in the trenches says they’ve earned it.
There were many other players Friday who brought their games to a level that shouldn’t necessarily be called stepping it up anymore, because it is become the norm.
Fans anxiety has gone down many notches with the emergence of Stephen MacDonald’s kicking game. It is the type of job where if things are going wrong the implications can be huge and the critiquing through the roof. If things go right all is quiet. MacDonald’s new-found confidence has forced fans to change the subject to, and has given the team the team reliability they sorely needed after the loss of Grant Shaw.
WR Rory Kohlert looked like a man among boys out there, chewing up the UBC defense for 9 catches and over 100 yards, establishing himself, at least on this night, as the go-to guy.
But for me to talk about each individual players great contributions last night would be enough to fit into three more articles. Yet one thing has carried this Huskie team through the last four games. It is not something that can be game planned against or even defended, and is a major factor that opposing teams in Canada West should only hope will subside in the next few weeks. It’s also one of the most overlooked things in sport.
It is what allows us to get on a roll. If you want something done give it to a busy person. Likewise, if you want to be a betting man whose odds skyrocket, it’s wise to put your money on the team who has momentum. You can’t tell me that the Flames and Oilers Cinderella runs of 2004 and 2006 weren’t a result of momentum. Success breeds success. Momentum gives you a sense of belief, removes fear of failure, allows for overachieving.
Each of the team’s last 4 games have been decided by 19 points or more. They’ve won all these games, though at the cost of injury, with relative ease. They are playing with the wind at their backs and have stolen all the momentum away from their other six conference rivals.
With the heightened expectations encompassing the team, it’s hard for a program with Vanier Cup hopes to overachieve, but the manner in which they are winning games comes as a bit of a surprise…and looks to be a case of…dare we say it?…overachievment.
Firday night’s game was a collective effort from all twelve players on defense. To steal some wit from Stevie Baggs, this defense is full of a bunch of ‘Shakespeares’, all they do is make plays. Twelve different players had tackles, and the team had particularly strong performances from Peter Thiel, Tony Michalchuk, and Keenan MacDougall.
Consistent contributions from all these players and everyone as a unit has this team with the pedal to the mettle. With each passing game, this team seems to be getting better and better. The max. point at which they’ll peak is still unknown.
The Regina Rams, the rest of Canada West and the rest of CIS should start taking notice.