Huskie Outsider caught up with the Huskies’ head coach, Brian Towriss, for a few minutes today, in order to discuss the off season training that several Huskies are participating in, the competition and depth that there will be at certain positions this fall, and the non-conference game vs. the University of Guelph that will mark the start of the Dogs’ season.
“Things are good,” remarked BT about the off-season training. “The guys are sure working hard; we have 25 – 28 guys that are consistently here training. I know that they are real fit and strong. That’s our core group – a lot of those guys are starters and have been around for a little while.” Coach was asked how much of an advantage it is for the guys who take part in “Bart U” (the name of the Huskies’ summer training program). “I think it’s huge,” he replied. “It started, really, at the end of the season with our new facility. The fact that you have 20 or more of the guys together at one time works in their favour; they’re pushing each other and working a lot harder when they’re out there as a group. They’re a very dedicated group who have busted their tails. We see the explosiveness in a couple of them.”
The Huskies will be replacing all 3 starting linebackers from last season. “We will miss Peter Thiel a little bit,” Coach commented regarding the Huskies’ linebacker making the Edmonton Eskimos’ roster. “We thought that we would likely get him back, but we’re pleased for him.” There were a lot of talented linebacker prospects in spring camp, which should lead to a great competition come fall. “If there is one spot where we thought that we had several young guys that could play, it’s at linebacker, and they’re going to get their chance now. There’s 6 or 7 kids that we’re looking at – we’re going to have a hard time determining who is going to travel, let alone who is going to start. It’s good news for guys like Jaques Geyer and Ronald Mwamba. It’s also looking good for Corbin Eskelson now.” Eskelson is a former PFC defensive player of the year in 2010, who took last year off after exhausting his junior eligibility. “We weren’t sure exactly where he would fit in, but he certainly gives us some experience and is a guy who covers the pass very well. He’s a welcome addition.”
The Dogs will have the luxury of depth at positions other than linebacker as well. “We’ve got some depth on the DLine for the first time in a few years. We have 3 solid edge guys, maybe four (Joel Seutter and Levi Steinhauer are the returning starters at DE), along with two veteran inside guys who are very good (Zach Hart and David Rybinski), plus a top young recruit in Brayden Twarynski. We’re solid there.”
The offensive line endured their struggles last season, with Patrick Neufeld moving to the CFL, Cam Redl sitting out the year while rehabbing a knee injury, a committed recruit changing his mind, and a couple other OLinemen sitting out with injuries. Even though Ben Heenan has moved on after being the first overall selection in the CFL draft, things are looking up for the unit in 2012. “I think we’re ahead of where we were last year, at this point, along the OLine,” Coach Towriss stated.
The rushing attack, and offence for that matter, were inconsistent last season, but there is reason for optimism here as well. “With Dexter Janke having a little bit more experience, the running game should be stronger – we’re expecting a big year out of him. We should be able to get out of the gate a bit better on offence.”
Coach Towriss was asked to look ahead to late August and the Huskies’ non-conference game when they’ll host the Guelph Gryphons, a team who is looking ahead to the 2012 season with optimism after a successful winter of recruiting. “All the arrangements were finalized at the end of June. They’re going to be bringing out around 60 players, and we’ll dress about 65.” BT views this game in a similar fashion to last season’s non-conference game vs. Windsor. “They’re kind of an up and coming team in the OUA. They got better as the year went on last year, and they expect to be in the upper-middle part of their conference this year. It’ll be a good test for us. They’re hungry, and they’ve heard from some of the other programs that coming here for a game is a pretty good experience. Last year’s game certainly gave Windsor some confidence heading into their conference schedule.” Even though this isn’t a conference game, the Huskies really hope for a good turnout. “We’d like to get a great crowd, because this is a game that we have to pay for,” he added. “It would be nice to put 5000 people in here for that game.” The game will also help prepare the Huskies for a tough conference season. “It’ll expose us to another style of play, much like last year. When we scrimmage, we’re throwing 24 of our own guys out there at the same time, so we cut the risk of injury in half by hosting this game. It’ll also provide us with a good test in order to get ready to play Alberta to open the CanWest season.”
As summer training continues, Huskie Outsider will try and catch up with a few of the players to get their perspective on both their workouts and the season ahead.