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  • The #skhuskies lose 41-8 to the Manitoba Bisons. They fall to 4-2 on the season. Next game is Sat, Oct. 25 at 1:30 vs. Alberta at Griffiths.

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Game Preview: Huskies at Calgary

Saturday, September 29, 5:00 p.m.
McMahon Stadium
Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 4:30 p.m.)
TV – Shaw (channel 10 in Saskatoon, channel 303 in HD) and Shaw Direct (channels 299 and 407).

Records coming in: Huskies: 2-2, Fourth in Canada West, lost 35-26 (ranked tenth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten); Calgary 4-0, first in Canada West, won 62-7 over UBC last week (ranked second in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten).

The S

Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 9 regular season wins to Calgary’s four since 2002.

What’s on the line: For Calgary, they will all but lock up first-place with a victory over the Huskies. They have dominated the first half of the season and look unstoppable at this point.

The Huskies would like nothing more than to go into the bye week with a big win. A win over the Dinos would virtually erase the close scores of the past three weeks, which included two losses. While no other team in the Canada West has shown they can play with the Dinos, the Huskies, no matter what state they’re in, usually get up to play for this game. It will be interesting to see how they respond to having five starters, including quarterback Drew Burko, out on offence and how the defence rebounds after a couple of poor performances.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

  • Quarterback Chase Bradshaw – Bradshaw passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Regina last week, almost entirely in the second half. Bradshaw is a different quarterback than Burko, being a little quicker on his feet and less likely to stand in the pocket like Burko does. Nevertheless, he is a strong, veteran quarterback who will keep the Huskie offense rolling.
  • Slotback Charlie Power – Power had six catches for 65 yards last week, most of those of the difficult variety in traffic. He will take on an even greater role with the number of injuries the Huskies have right now, and his ability to gain yards after the catch will make him a key target of the Huskie quarterbacks as the season wears on.
  • Linebacker Corbin Eskelson – Making his second straight start, Eskelson had a strong game, registering 9.5 tackles and fumble recovery. Eskelson gives the Huskies a veteran presence in a young linebacking corps, and he will likely keep his starting position as the Huskies look to improve their run defence.
  • Defensive Lineman Levi Steinhauer – Steinhauer is having his best season as a Huskie, with 11.5 tackles and two sacks through four games. His quickness off the line and speed is difficult for tackles to handle, and he will be a key contributor to the defence in this game as he tries to replace the injured Zach Hart.

Calgary

  • Quarterback Eric Dzwilewski – Dzwilewski is the Canada West leader in terms of passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He is a dual threat, rushing as well as he passes, and is always a threat to run the ball or take off out of the pocket.
  • Slotback Chris Dobko – After a slow start, last year’s top Dino receiver is again leading the team, with 355 yards receiving and four touchdowns. This big, physical fourth-year slotback will be difficult for the young Huskie halfbacks to handle.
  • Cornerback Mike Edem – Edem, a defensive back turned linebacker, is having a tremendous year, leading the Canada West in tackles with 38, to go along with his three sacks and three interceptions. Last week in Vancouver, he had 10 tackles to lead all defensive players. Expect to hear his name a few times today.
  • Defensive Lineman Michael Klassen – Klassen, in his third year with the Dinos, is currently tied for second in the conference with 3.5 sacks. He also has 9.5 tackles and a pass knockdown this season, and will surely be getting his hands up and utilizing his 6-5 height to try to knock down passes, as many other defensive lineman have successfully done this season against the Huskies.

Roster moves: Here’s the good news: Linebacker Dane Bishop will make his return to the lineup. Here’s the bad: Quarterback Drew Burko is out of the lineup indefinitely. Starting receivers Jeff Moore, Garrett Burgess and Kit Hillis will miss this game and will look to return after the bye week. First and second string running backs Dexter Janke and Shane Buchanan also remain out. Turning to the defensive side, starting defensive lineman Zach Hart and starting halfback Luke Thiel will sit out at least this game, as will rookie phenom, cornerback Travoy Martinez. Defensive lineman Glen Joorisity also remains out of the lineup.

What to expect:Given the Dinos first-half domination and with the number of key veterans injured for this game, there is no doubt that the Huskies come in as heavy underdogs. Most predictions I have seen so far have the Huskies losing by a 30 point margin.

This one would be difficult for the Huskies to win with a healthy roster, although I think a win would have been a real possibility in that situation. I still don’t think a win is impossible, but the Huskies will have to play near perfect on both sides of the ball and create some turnovers to be in this one. Not only that, but they will have to get the balance of the bounces and calls their way, as well.

One thing about the Huskies is that they play the Dinos extremely well, even when they’re outmatched. Last season, when quarterbacking and offensive line play was an issue in all but the final game of the regular season, the Huskies still played the Dinos tight in both of their matchups. They lost by 14 to the Dinos in Calgary in a game where, if you didn’t know the score and just read the statistics, you would have thought the Dinos would have won by 40. Three weeks later, the Dinos won by 12 in a game where neither offence scored a touchdown, with the game’s only major coming off a Dinos interception deep in Saskatchewan territory.

This year, I think the final score of this game will be much closer than many predicted. While the outcome may be another loss to the Dinos, I expect they will keep this one close and will play solidly on both offence and defence. They still have a lot of talent on the team and a coaching staff that is able to put together solid gameplans and make adjustments to react to what the Dinos are throwing at them.

Winning this game is not a necessity. If they come out of this game with a loss but put forward a good effort and didn’t sustain more injuries, it would be fine. The Huskies would go into the bye in fourth at 2-3, knowing they have games at home against 0-4 UBC at home and a game against 0-4 Alberta on the road, while hosting a Manitoba team that, after watching them play against Regina last night, I can’t believe the Huskies lost to in Winnipeg in week two.

The Huskies should at least equal their 5-3 record from last year and with all but Dexter Janke likely to return before or by the playoffs, they should be a force once November rolls around. We’ve seen in the past what kind of damage the Huskies can do on the road in the playoffs, with the 2002, 2004 and 2006 seasons springing to mind. They could be road warriors once again, breaking hearts and killing championship dreams along the way.

There’s a lot of work to be done before then. Today, they have to make a statement by earning an unlikely victory or making the Dinos pay the price for a win. Expect it to be a battle, either way.

There’s a lot of fight left in these dogs.

Go, Dogs, go!

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