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Game preview: Huskies at Calgary Dinos

Saturday, September 14, 5:00 p.m.
McMahon Stadium
Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 4:30 p.m.)

Records coming in: Huskies: 2-0, first in Canada West, won 36-34 in Manitoba last weekend (ranked sixth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten); Calgary 2-0, first in Canada West, won 34-27 in Regina last week (ranked fifth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten).

Receiver Mitch Stevens and the Huskies head to Calgary for a big match with the Dinos this Saturday (photo by Derek Mortensen for Electric Umbrella)

Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 9 regular season wins to Calgary’s four since 2003.

What’s on the line: Possibly home field advantage in the playoffs.

I know – it’s week three. But considering how close all the teams seem to be this year, every game counts and it could come down to one game. Since this is the first of two games these two will play this year, every point will also be important.

The Huskies have a little extra on the line. The last game these two played, the Dinos put a 45-4 beating on the Huskies. For the green guys, there is a lot of pride on the line.

Back-to-back wins on the road against their two toughest opponents in the conference would make a big statement and will finally open some eyes across the country.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

  • Running Back Shane Buchanan – Buchanan has put up back-to-back 100 yard rushing games and, together with backfield partner Dexter Janke, will be counted on once again. The Dinos only faced 14 total rushes last week in Regina, but the week before, they let Brandon Deschamps and the UBC Thunderbirds put up 283 rushing yards. Expect the Dinos front seven to be tested early and often by Buchanan and Janke.
  • Rover Goeff Hughes – Hughes has been a key player on defence, stepping into the hybrid linebacker/defensive end rover position and playing at a high level. Right now, Hughes leads the Canada West with three sacks and is third on the team with seven tackles. Expect Hughes all over the field once again, as he will have a busy day against the dangerous Dino offence.

Calgary

  • Quarterback Andrew Buckley – Buckley had a mediocre game in his first Canada West start, completing 44 per cent of his passes for 210 yards, one touchdown (which was an 89-yard bomb to Eli Bouka) and one interception. In spite of this underwhelming performance, expect him to be sharper and going to the air more against the Huskies defence, who are ranked last in passing defence through two games this year.
  • Halfback Cyril Iwanegbe – Iwanegbe has been a physical presence in the Dino’s defensive backfield, something Regina receive Landon Buch found out the hard way last week after Iwanegbe leveled him with a nasty, but legal, hit. He sits third on the Dinos with ten tackles and has two pass breakups this year. He will make life tough for Drew Burko and the Huskie receivers.

Roster moves: The Huskies will be without cornerback Travoy Martinez for a few weeks as he recovers from a broken collar bone. Jerit Lambert may make his season debut with the Huskies. Right guard Lane Bryksa will be serving a one-game suspension for a hit in the week one game against the Rams.

What to expect:

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what to expect. Both of these teams have looked hot and cold through their first two games. The Huskies played, arguably, the toughest opponent of the three these teams have faced, last week in Manitoba. At the same time, the Dinos have been on the road for three games straight, including their non-conference game in Laval, and have won the two that counted.

The Huskies look to have the better team on paper, but they will be playing their second game in a row on the road, this one against the defending Hardy Cup champion. They haven’t quite hit their stride on offence yet, while looking good with their run defence and bad on with their pass defence.

If they can take positive steps and improve a little bit in each area, it may be enough to take this game from the Dinos. The Dinos will be pumped up and ready to play their first home game and will certainly come out firing and looking to set a physical tone. If the Huskies can match that physicality and execute on offence, they will stand a good chance at starting the season 3-0.

This will be a good test for both teams. The Dinos certainly have some big-play ability, and the Huskies have shown they are susceptible to that, especially through the air. On the other side, the Huskies have shown they are able to deliver a balanced attack and wear defences down. The Huskies have also shown they can shut down, or at least limit, potent rushing games, something the Dinos have relied on through their first two games.

Whatever happens on Saturday, I don’t think it will be a blowout. Both of these teams are conscious of the fact that they play again in three weeks and that the point differential of the combined games may be more important in the end if they end up splitting the series. This means that those Huskie fans who would like to see a less conservative approach from the typically conservative Huskies may be disappointed with a lot of this game.

Even though Calgary is a tough place to play, this is the Huskies’ best chance to come out with a win since 2010. Hopefully they pull out all the stops and do what it takes to move to 3-0.

Go, Dogs, go!