The Canada West season opens tonight, at Griffiths Stadium, as the Huskies honour Canada’s armed forces with the “Support Our Troops” game. The Huskie Outsider crew offered their thoughts on the game.
1st down: What is one key to a Huskie victory that you will be paying close attention to?
Dallas: I think limiting turnovers will be the biggest key to victory. With the number of young players in the lineup, mistakes and turnovers are bound to happen, but if we can eliminate turnovers that set up the opposition in immediate scoring position, or that stop a promissing drive, the Huskies should come out on top. I would rather see the Huskies take a sack or get tackled for a loss than try to force a play.
Ryan: The Huskies’ defense will have to limit Alberta to 14 points. Doing so will give the offense some field position and allow them to score enough to win. It all starts up front for the Huskies with their defensive line which is one of the best to play in the green and white. Last week, the Huskies were burnt on a few long plays. This was because the team had not practiced against quad receivers. This week the defense has a game plan in place that should make it difficult for Alberta to move the ball. So, I will be paying close attention to the defense and how they set up field position for the offense.
Dog Whisperer: Physical play….the Huskies need to be hungry and stay hungry, and come out flying around the field. In addition to that I would like to see a commitment to establishing the running game – not testing it or trying it, but a COMMITMENT to running the ball.
Tom: I agree with Dog about the need to be physical. For whatever reason, the Huskies let the opposition push them around in last week’s non-conference game. That was very uncharacteristic of a Huskie team, and there can’t be a repeat of that tonight or in any other game.
2nd down: The opposing coaches in Canada West don’t think that the Huskies will make the playoffs this year. What will the Dogs have to do in 2012 in order to prove them wrong?
Dog Whisperer: Win 5 games. There’s no better revenge than success.
Ryan: The Huskies will prove the other coaches wrong when they see Drew Burko play this weekend. Everyone looks at the Huskies, starting a rookie quarterback, as being in a rebuilding year. Having been to almost every practice and seeing the QB’s play in person, I can say that the Huskies are further ahead right now than they were last year, and last year’s team was 5-3. The Huskies will likely surprise some teams early, gain some confidence as the season goes on and probably make some moves in the playoffs. It all starts this week, where they have to beat Alberta though.
Dallas: The Huskies will have to win tough games, like the games against Regina and Calgary, and the games on the road against UBC and Manitoba. They were ranked low in 2008, as well, and then went into Regina and blew out the heavily favoured Rams. Now that they’re not among the favourites they can use the underdog role to their advantage. As Ryan pointed out, overall, they are better than they were last season and I think they will get consistently better as the season goes on.
Tom: I think that opposing teams are enjoying the thought of the Huskies being a non-playoff team in 2012. Make no bones about it, CanWest will be a very competitive conference this season, but I think the Huskies are fully capable of making the playoffs and being a dangerous team in the postseason. But to do that, the Dogs have be 100% focused on each game. They need to believe in themselves, and not look past any opponent – starting with Alberta tonight. Respect everyone, fear no one.
3rd down: Make one statistical prediction for the game
Ryan: It’s early in the season, so teams make mistakes. I predict that mistake will occur on special teams and the Huskies will have at least one return of over 40 yards.
Dallas: I predict the Huskies will have a running back go over 100 yards on the night. They are deep at the position, and I feel one or two players will step up and be considered among the elite running backs in the conference by season’s end.
Dog Whisperer: Pick 6 from the Defense. They are overdue and this is the game that they deliver. Oh and just for the record, a special teams TD as well.
Tom: The Huskies know that they need to do a better job of taking care of the ball this season, and it starts tonight with no more than 1 turnover