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BLACKOUT preview: Huskies vs. Dinos

BLACKOUT (photo by Liam Richards/Electric Umbrella)

Friday, October 4, 7:00 p.m.
Griffiths Stadium
Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.)

Records coming in: Huskies: 4-1, second in Canada West, won 17-12 at UBC last weekend (ranked sixth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten); Calgary 5-0, first in Canada West, won 76-21 at Alberta last weekend (ranked third in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten).

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

What’s on the line: First place in the Canada West conference in 2013.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

  • Quarterback Drew Burko – Burko will need to play his best game of the season if the Huskies hope to win this game. The second-year quarterback is third in the conference with 1501 yards passing. He passed for 231 yards last week in wet and windy conditions. If he has good protection and an a strong ground game, he will have better opportunities to pass downfield.
  • Safety Mark Ingram – Ingram led the team with 4.5 tackles in UBC and was a key part of that goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter. He is part of a resurgent Huskies defence that is the top unit in the conference. They have been playing with confidence and precision, posting the their best performances of the Canada West season in their last two contests.

Calgary

  • Running Back Mercer Timmis – Timmis is the leading candidate for Canada West Hec Crighton nominee, with 709 yards and 13 touchdowns through five games. The Dinos have relied upon Timmis to deliver the mail and he will be tough for the Huskies to hold near or under 100 yards, although if there is one defence that can do that, it’s the Huskies.
  • Linebacker Doctor Casama – Casama, who started his career as cornerback, has flourished in his new role at linebacker. Since taking over from Mike Edem, who moved on to the Montreal Alouettes, Casama has led the Dinos in tackles through five games, putting up 30.5 and one sack. The Huskie offence will need to be aware of him, as he is sure to come flying through the line on one of the many Calgary blitzes.

Roster moves: Defensive tackle Zach Hart returns to the lineup. He was not in the lineup the last time these teams played. Cornerback Kenrick Hanna will also be healthy and available. Linebacker Dane Bishop and offensive guard Lane Bryksa will be gameday decisions. Rover Geoff Hughes is still recovering from a foot injury, as is receiver Jerit Lambert, while guard Mason Dick will sit this one out as well. Corner Travoy Martinez and guard Jordan Arkko are likely out for the season.

What to expect:

I expect the Huskies to win.

I know that many, even a few Huskie fans, are convinced the mighty Dinos will come out on top again. Some distant observers have even crowned the Dinos the Hardy champs and are looking forward to them playing the OUA champs.

However, these teams are closer than most know. Although the Dinos were clearly the better team the last time these teams met, the big difference came down to four series in the third quarter where the Dinos scored touchdowns on a tired Saskatchewan defence after two Huskie two-and-outs. Otherwise, the Dinos held a slight edge on the stat sheet, putting up 436 yards to the Huskies’ 404 and 33 first downs to the Huskies’ 27.

The Huskies have improved, especially on defence, since then. This is not the same team that stepped on the McMahon Stadium turf on September 14. They have eliminated several mistakes and will be better prepared for the high-flying Dinos offence. And, while not quite at the same level on offence, they will have a better game plan and be ready for the pressure the Dinos deliver on defence.

This will be a physical and violent game. I don’t mean fights will break out, but hard hits will be delivered and the Dinos will have to match the Huskies’ intensity to pull out a victory. Plus, the Huskies will have a large, vocal BLACKOUT crowd behind them, something they are unaccustomed to.

The Huskies will need to win the turnover battle to give the Dinos their first loss of the season. The last time these teams played, the game was a dead heat until and ill-advised pass late in the first half that ended up in a Dino interception, taking away momentum from the Huskies and giving the Dinos the mental edge heading into the locker room. The Dinos took advantage of that edge and put together a third quarter that saw 15 unanswered points put up.

The Dinos have been riding that mental edge over their opponents all season. While they are still good, they are not the same calibre as the 2011 and 2012 teams, but thanks to their five-straight Hardy Cups and a media love-in, it seems like they will never be beaten. It is up to their opponents to get past this mental edge and put some doubt into the Dinos. There will be no better opportunity this season than the game at Griffiths this Friday.

I expect the Huskies to come out flying and to not let the foot off the gas until there is no time left on the clock. Hopefully the Huskies will score a victory of 13 points or more, but a victory of any margin will make the 7,000 fans on hand Friday night happy.

I certainly hope we see a big Huskie victory Friday night. It’s time.

Go, Dogs, go!

One Response to “BLACKOUT preview: Huskies vs. Dinos”

  1. Tom says:

    Great article. This was a good preview.

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