Saturday, September 13, 5:00 p.m.
Foote Field, Edmonton, Alberta
Broadcast available at www.ck750.com (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.).
Records coming in: Huskies: 1-0, second in Canada West (won 44-24 over Manitoba last week); Alberta: 0-1, sixth in Canada West (lost 71-3 to Calgary last week).
Head to head history: The Huskies have a narrow 13-3 record over the Bears in the last decade. The Huskies have a 2-1 advantage
What’s on the line: The Huskies want to continue to make statements in the Canada West in the lead up to the week three clash against the Dinos at Griffiths Stadium. They are still figuring a few things out, but they should be more refined after last week.
The Bears want to show they aren’t as bad as the 68-point loss against the Dinos last weeks seems to show they are. While they might be outmatched, they want to prove to themselves that they are resilient and are improved from their 0-8 season in 2013.
Offensive Lineman Drew Digout – Digout came in to play right guard in the first quarter after Mat Leung injured his left bicep. Digout, a former CJFL all-Canadian, can play any of the positions on the line well and it showed, as the offence didn’t miss a beat after Digout came in, putting up most of their 195 rushing yards with him at guard.
Defensive End Adam Morrison – Morrison, a 6-7, 270 lb. product of the Saskatoon Hilltops, had an excellent first game, recording his first sack and narrowly mission out on another on the Bisons’ goal line. His speed and athleticism, especially against a less experienced Bears offensive line should allow him to put significant pressure on the Alberta quarterbacks, who are not as quick and elusive as Jordan Yantz.
Running Back Joel Mukendi – Mukendi, who is out of the Kamloops Broncos program of the BCFC, put up 97 yards rushing on 14 carries. The third-year player will be a tough challenge for the Huskie defence and will force the Huskies to carry over their defensive adjustments of the second-half of last week’s game when they virtually shut down the Bisons run game.
Cornerback Tak Landry – The second-year defensive back led the Bears last week with 11 tackles, 10 solo and two assisted. The Huskies will need to be ready to challenge the young defensive backfield and perhaps create some mismatches with tall receivers like Julan Lynch and Liam Howe.
Key matchup: The Huskies’ defensive secondary will be challenged by a talented set of receivers including Taylor Henry, Aundrey Webster and Jimmy Ralph. The Bears are similar to the Regina in that they tend to be pass happy, putting up 43 pass attempts last week against the Dinos. The Huskies will need to be ready to take away the big play potential of this group.
What they’re saying: “We think we have the right people in here to win. They’re young, but they have the capability. We’re looking to win multiple games and challenge for the playoffs.” Alberta Golden Bears Head Coach Chris Morris in an interview prior to the season opener.
Roster moves: The Huskies will be without guard Mat Leung indefinitely.
What to expect:Expect a Huskie win. It should be a pretty big gap, if they are running on all cylinders.
The Huskies showed the last game that they are not the team of old. They are improved, have several new weapons at receiver, running back and defensive line and are ready to challenge for the top of the Canada West. They were underrated by their opponents and by observers, but they can’t rely on one game to prove their critics wrong. They have to keep playing with a chip on their shoulder and prove they are one of the best teams every week.
The Bears will be fired up for their home opener and will come out strong. They have good players and explosive weapons like their leading receiver from 2013, Taylor Henry. If the Huskies are ready for the early onslaught and make adjustments as they did last week, they should be able to handle what the Bears give them.
It will be interesting to see who steps up as the sixth offensive lineman for the Huskies now that Mat Leung is likely out for a few games. Drew Digout will start at guard and Josh Butcher will be the top backup. Likely candidates are Cassidy Follensbee and Jack Sloboda, although the 6-5, 300 lb. David Singer may also put up a challenge during practices this week. In any case, things may not look quite as dire for the offensive line as they appear.
The Huskies don’t want to be the team to break Alberta’s winless streak. Hopefully they come out strong and put up a big win to set up a showdown against Calgary next Friday at Griffiths.
Go, Dogs, go!