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Game Preview: Huskies at Regina

Saturday, October 26, 1:00 p.m.
Mosaic Stadium, Regina

Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 12:30 p.m.)
TV – Shaw (channel 10 in Saskatoon, channel 303 in HD) and Shaw Direct (channels 299 and 407).

Records coming in: Huskies – 4-3, third in Canada West (ranked tenth in the CIS Top Ten poll).
Regina: 2-5, fifth in the Canada West, eliminated from playoff contention.

Quarterback Drew Burko and running back Shane Buchanan (photo by Liam Richards for Electric Umbrella)

Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 13 regular season wins to Regina’s four since 2003. The Huskies have one win to Regina’s two in the playoffs over the same period. All-time, the Huskies are 20-9 against the Rams.

What’s on the line: For the Huskies, a home playoff date could be on the line. If the UBC Thunderbirds can pull off an upset victory against the Calgary Dinos and the Huskies beat the Rams, the Huskies would finish in second place, no matter the outcome of the game between the Manitoba Bisons and the Alberta Golden Bears.

For the Rams, they could play spoilers if UBC wins against the Dinos the night before. For the most part, they’re playing for pride and provincial bragging rights, something they lost to the Huskies in week one.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

Receiver Mitch Stevens – Stevens is second on the team with 511 yards receiving but leads the team with four receiving touchdowns. He is an elusive, experienced receiver who will be key to the Huskies’ fortunes this weekend and in the playoffs.

Safety Mark Ingram – Ingram came out hitting in the game last Friday against Manitoba, leaving some bruises on two Manitoba receivers. He also posted his first interception of the season, putting in a performance that, if repeated, will benefit the defence as they head towards the post-season.

Regina

Receiver Addison Richards – The 6’4″ Richards could give the shorter Huskie corners some problems. He leads the Rams with 614 yards receiving and has put up one touchdown. He put up 105 yards on the Huskies in the season opener and he is capable of more if the coverage isn’t tight.

Linebacker Michael Stefanovic – This Moose Jaw product has stepped in and played very well in a rebuilding defence. He leads the team with 41.5 tackles, including eight for a loss, and has two fumble recoveries. He is a top candidate for a Canada West all-star nomination at linebacker.

Key matchup: The key match for the Huskies will be the secondary, which had a rough game against the Bisons last weekend, against the very good receiving unit of the Rams.

The Huskies gave up 363 yards through and four touchdowns through the air last weekend. Meanwhile, Regina put up 430 yards passing and two aerial touchdowns against the Dinos. Receivers like Jared Janotta, Addison Richards and Kolten Solomon have put up big numbers against the Huskies in the past and could again this Saturday if the Huskie defence isn’t ready for them.

Roster moves: The Huskies are a little bruised up after last week’s game, but should have the most of the regular players available. Lane Bryksa may be available, which will boost the offensive line. Jerit Lambert may be available, as well. Travoy Martinez, Jordan Arkko and Geoff Hughes remained sidelined with injuries.

What to expect: Should we expect more of the same team that has struggled the past two weeks, putting up inconsistent and frustrating performances? Or should we expect the sharp, physical, potentially dominant team we have seen at times this season?

I expect we’ll see a much better team than the one that lost the past two games. They know they have to be, as the Rams are no pushovers. While they are 2-5 and will be missing the playoffs, they still played the Dinos very close for over three quarters last week, putting up 27 points, and have the capability of doing the same to the Huskies.

There is no way the Huskies want to go into the playoffs with three straight losses under their belts, and losing to the non-playoff Rams in Regina would add insult to injury. To get this elusive fifth win, the players on offence have to get on the same page, especially quarterback Drew Burko and his receivers. They also have to figure out a way to get the running game going, as there has been little room and few plays penetrating the opposition’s defensive backfield over the past month.

The defence has to try to hold Regina’s vaunted passing attack at bay, and a relentless pass rush will be a key way to accomplish this. The Huskies lead the conference with 22 sacks and have the capability of putting the pressure on the quarterback on every play, forcing bad decisions and poor throws, as they did in the season opener when Cayman Shutter threw four interceptions.

If the Huskies are well prepared and have made changes, especially offensively, that have held them back the past two weeks, they should win this game. Even though they have disappointed the last two weeks, there is still time to turn things around and go on the long playoff run that many expected at the beginning of the season. There will still be a large number of us in the crowd who have made the trip to cheer them on, and most of us are still confident that they have the team to make some noise and host the Mitchell Bowl.

This could be the turning point they were looking for. This could also be another nail in the coffin. We’ll see who shows up on Saturday afternoon.

Go, Dogs, go!

One Response to “Game Preview: Huskies at Regina”

  1. stanthefan says:

    Dallas, to me the key will be on the Huskies’ coaches. Will they put the players in the best schemes and positions to be successful? This is particularly true of the defense and the back 5, which IMO are the weak link. The Rams are a passing team and to beat them we need to pressure Shutter and get sacks and knockdowns, This means an aggressive front 4 with stunts and multiple disguised blitzes. I hate the monster defense, because no matter how many pass defenders we have, if the QB has time some receiver will get open and get the ball.
    A win gives us a slight chance for a home playoff, but a UBC upset against the Dinos is a real stretch!

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