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Game Preview: Huskies vs. UBC

Friday, August 23, 7:00 p.m.
Griffiths Stadium

Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.)

** Don’t forget to catch OutsiderTV at 5:45! Complete news and interviews prior to the game. **

Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 12 regular season wins to UBC’s one since 2003. The Huskies are 3-0 in the playoffs against UBC since 2003.

What’s on the line: Spots on the roster for several young players. There are also several starting positions on the line for both teams.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

Inside Receiver Charlie Power – Power’s return to the Huskies may just give the Huskies the edge they need to make it out of the Canada West this year. Look for him to build on his solid first season as a receiver, one in which he caught 18 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. His 6-3, 230 lb. size, speed and ability to block will make Power and important part of the Huskie offence this year.

Linebacker Dylan Kemp – The 2012 PFC all-star with the Saskatoon Hilltops is a front runner for a starting linebacker position. Last year with the Hilltops, Kemp had 27 tackles and a forced fumble and was a key part of the top defence in the PFC, one which allowed only 142 points against.

UBC

Quarterback Greg Bowcott – Bowcott has big shoes to fill, replacing the graduated Billy Greene. However, the former SFU Clan player, brings good credentials with him from his last stop with the BCFC’s Langley Rams. Bowcott led the Rams to the CJFL championship game, posting a 61.2 completion percentage, 2012 yards passing and 23 touchdowns. He is also a threat on the ground, rushing for 253 yards on 37 carries.

Defensive Back Bryan Rideout – Rideout led the T-Birds with 40.5 tackles and three interceptions in 2012, picking up a Canada West defensive player-of-the-week nod after week seven. The fourth-year defensive back will be counted on as one of the leaders on a defence that is working in several new faces.

Lineman Spencer Wilson chases Huskies quarterback Drew Burko in the Huskies last meeting with the Thunderbirds on October 26, 2012 (photo by Steve Hiscock for Electric Umbrella)

Key matchup: The Saskatchewan offensive line against UBC’s front seven will be a key battle all night. The Huskies, who surrendered a conference-low nine sacks in 2012, are two-deep at each position with game-ready talent. The Thunderbirds have reloaded their front seven with junior all-stars, including former Saskatoon Hilltops lineman Donovan Dale and former Regina Thunder linebacker Yianni Cabylis, while returning veterans such as defensive end Kareem Ba and defensive tackle Martin Park. UBC will be an excellent test for the Huskies, who are hoping to establish themselves on the ground and through the air on offence this year.

Roster moves: Both teams will in the neighbourhood of 65 players. For the Huskies, several veterans, including running back Dexter Janke, defensive back Travoy Martinez and running back Jerit Lambert will watch the game from the sidelines.

What to expect: In a short season like we see with CIS football, every game counts. Momentum and confidence, especially for a team looking to replace key players, is fleeting and a win, even in a non-conference game, is valuable and can set the tone for the season ahead.

UBC lost twice to the Huskies last season, something that surely doesn’t sit well with Thunderbird head coach Shawn Olson. In his three years as UBC head coach and his three years as offensive coordinator of the Simon Fraser University Clan, Olson has engineered four victories, including two in the playoffs, and one overtime loss against the Huskies.

Olson is an intense competitor and he will want to set the tone for a tough season ahead, one in which he has to replace a Hec Crighton winning quarterback. He knows he has a good team but that it won’t be easy to secure a playoff spot in a conference where every game will be against a tough opponent. Coming into the toughest stadium to play in and getting a win over the team many see as the preseason conference favourites will be a big boost to the T-Birds heading into the season.

The Huskies, on the other hand, are facing big expectations and surely want to win to set the tone for their season. Although they, along with UBC, will be working in several players for evaluation purposes, getting a win against a conference opponent will be a valuable confidence booster for a club that ended last year on a very sour note in Regina, and they will surely do all they can to come away the winner.

So, if you are thinking about skipping this one to head to the lake, you should reconsider. Both teams will be coming out hard and will be playing to win. Preseason games are often where you see some of the biggest plays, as players come out and often put in unexpected performances in a bid to land a spot on the 40-man travel roster. Jade Etienne’s performance in the 2010 non-conference game against Western, one in which he not only showed his receiving skills but his ability to throw incredible blocks, is one of the several memorable preseason performances we have seen at Griffiths over the past few seasons.

Huskie fans are spoiled. We are the only fans in the conference who will get to see all five conference opponents at home this year. This game will be as hard hitting and exciting as the regular season games, plus it will have the same fireworks and game-day amenities that make Saskatoon the envy of the conference.

Come out, enjoy warm-weather, hard-hitting football, and cheer on your Huskies!

Go, Dogs, go!

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