Prior to the 2009 Hardy Cup, we asked Calgary head coach Blake Nill how he would stop his own team.
“I was always a big pressure guy, always,” he said, laughing, as he was a little surprised by the question. “I always said that if you can’t get enough (pressure) with five, bring six. And if you can’t get enough with six, bring seven.”
We have seen him employ this strategy time after time over the past few years. It has been successful almost every time. Tonight was no exception.
Aside from the first half of the first quarter, the Dinos eliminated the Huskies offence as a factor in the game. The Huskies could do virtually nothing against the Dinos defence, aside from turn over the ball. This game ended as a 41 point loss for the Huskies, their worst defeat since September 8, 2001, when the Manitoba Bisons beat them 52-7.
The Huskies had their chances to compete and stay in this game, holding an early 3-2 lead after a Braxton Lawrence interception and a 41-yard Denton Kolodzinski field goal. Things looked pretty even, in spite of the Huskies missing half-a-dozen starters on offence, but then, with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter, Chase Bradshaw was intercepted deep in the Huskies zone. Three plays later, the Dinos were in the endzone, going up 9-3.
Down 12-3, things didn’t look too bad going into the second quarter. Then, on the first play of the second, Eric Dzwilewski found Richard Snyder behind coverage near the sideline, connecting for a 90-yard touchdown. With that and the following kickoff single, the Dinos would go ahead 20-3. Following that, the Huskies would engineer their most successful drive of the day, an eight-play, 48-yard drive that ended with Kolodzinski missing a 34-yard field goal attempt. This would result in a rouge, and would be the final Huskie point of the day.
The ensuing drive, or play, as it turned out, would be similar to the first play of the quarter. However, instead of going overtop to the sideline, they went underneath in the middle of the field, with Brett Blaszko hauling in a pass. A missed tackle and 75-yards later Blaszko would score the second touchdown of the quarter, making the score 27-4. The Dinos would have two more good drives that both resulted in field goals, with the Huskies having strong red-zone defence, making the score 33-4 at the half.
While the defence would come out ready to play tough in the second half, the offence was already done. The defence, which was missing Luke Thiel, Zach Hart and Travoy Martinez, held the Dinos to three field goals in the third quarter and a punt single in the fourth (although the Dinos played their second and third stringers heavily in the fourth).
The furthest the Huskies would advance into Dino territory in the second was to the 47, and they would only do it once. Out of 21 drives on the day, the Huskies advanced past midfield four times. The Huskies only had seven first downs to the Dino’s 27 and 123 yards of net offence to the Dino’s 618. Considering that the Dinos had the ball for almost 36 minutes, the Huskies were fortunate that the score was as close as it ended up being.
Had the Huskies not turned the ball over late in the first quarter with an interception and a fumble that led directly to 10 points and a momentum swing in favour of the Dinos, this may have been a different, or at least a much closer, game. This one got away from the Huskies early and the big plays of the second quarter took the Huskies out of the game mentally. As Laurence Nixon mentioned on the Shaw broadcast, it seemed as though the Huskies had checked out and wanted the game to end as soon as possible, early in the third quarter.
Hopefully the bye week allows the team to heal mentally and physically, as it’s clear they could use and infusion of confidence and some regular faces back in the lineup. The Huskies face the two teams they are fighting for playoff positions with at home, with the 3-2 Manitoba Bisons visiting on October 12 and the 1-4 UBC Thunderbirds visiting on October 26. The Huskies played both of these teams closely earlier this season, and having these opponents at home should give them the edge.
This was a bad game. A really bad game. But there is still a lot of fight left in these dogs. Let’s hope their best fights are saved for November.