After starting the season 2-0 for what seems to be the umpteenth time in a row, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team is rolling along in the Canada West. Or are they?
Sure it seems all rosy right now for the Dogs who sit atop the standings, albeit early on in the season, but the two Huskies wins were not the prettiest. In fact, if not for a couple of plays here and there, the Green and White could easily be 0-2.
After Friday night’s mediocre 10-7 win against their provincial rivals from Regina, the Huskies will have a chance to reflect on some of the areas of their game that have to get better if they want to contend with the big boys in the CIS as their lone bye-week approaches.
What are some of the issues? First and most importantly, the Huskies have already run into costly injuries. In the first game of the year against Calgary, the number one and two rushers, Tyler O’Gorman and Mark Klause, both went down with what could be lingering injuries.
We all know that if you want to be successful late into the season and into the playoffs in the tough Canada West Conference, you have to be able to run the ball. With the Huskies now having to call upon their third, fourth and fifth string running backs led by Alex Balogun, the depth of the Dogs will be tested.
Second, sure the injuries are going to have an effect on the offence but Saskatchewan did not score an offensive touchdown until 1:12 remaining in the second game of the season. With all the fire-power in the receiver spot, with guys like Scott McHenry, Travis Gorski, Shayne Dueck and Kory Jones, there should be no excuses for quarterback Laurence Nixon.
Anyone who knows football will tell you that defence wins championships and it was the defence that was able to hold the Huskies in a game Friday that saw neither team step up and make the big play offensively. Graces go to the Huskies defensive co-ordinator Ed Carleton who threw every twist imaginable at the Rams rookie quarterback Marc Mueller.
When you win games 10-7 like the Huskies did Friday night, it’s evident there was trouble with both offences. But again, the Huskies defence deserves credit for giving their team a chance to win.
One of the most thrilling parts to Huskies football this season has to be the atmosphere created at PotashCorp Park. For years, Huskie Athletics has been working feverishly to pack the park and make the game a full entertainment experience. The thrilling 34-33 double overtime win home-opening classic at PotashCorp a week prior set a regular season attendance for the Huskies, as 6,040 patrons filed into the stadium to watch a memorable football game.
Last Friday, the Huskies once again set a regular season attendance record as this time, 6,900 people were on hand at PotashCorp Park. When you combine large boisterous crowds with fireworks, pep band, inflatable mascots and the level of professionalism Huskie Athletics is known for, you have the perfect mix of what fans should expect at a football game.
For years, the Huskies may have only had one difficult opponent in the Canada West to contend with and that usually came by way of the Alberta Bears. Now, however, the Huskies face stiff competition almost every night they suit up.
My only question for the Dogs is whether or not they will be able to stay healthy and challenge for another Canada West title.
photo Robby Davis