EDMONTON — After a vicious beat down against their provincial rivals, the University of Alberta Golden Bears (2-1) look to get back into the win column when they host the defending Hardy Cup Champion (8) Manitoba Bisons (1-2).
Alberta is still reeling from a humiliating 80-18 loss against the Dinos – a game where the Bears defense gave up a staggering 975 yards.
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Canada West Battle of Alberta
Manitoba Bisons rookie using football as escape from tragedy
“All you can really do when something that bad happens is to sort of regroup together and take a look at everybody, not just the players, look at the coaches and move forward,” said Bears Head Coach Chris Morris.
He made a point of reminding his players that every week is a new week and every play is a new play. More importantly, he wants his team to view last week’s disaster as a reality check.
“We’re good enough to beat people but we’re also good enough to get blown out by whoever we play. I think we may have forgotten that.
“We start off at 2-0 and everybody’s walking around like we’re this world beater team…we’re not a world beater team,” Morris added.
If they get back to that mentality, they should be fine. But, in order to get past the Bisons, they’ll have to figure out a way to infiltrate their defensive line.
Manitoba’s D-Line is led by the dynamic duo of David Onyemata and Evan Foster. At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, Onyemata is a dangerous threat on the field. He’s a conference all-star, and ranked second in the CFL’s Scouting Bureau. In fact, Morris views him as one of the top CFL-type guys in the country who may even end up down south.
As for Foster, Morris expects him to move around quickly and make some big plays.
Manitoba comes into the game looking for their own redemption. They’re coming off a 51-48 loss to the UBC Thunderbirds and sit fourth in the Canada West with just one win.
In addition to their solid D-Line, the Bisons also boast an outstanding quarterback in Theo Deezar. The second year pivot leads the Canada West with 1,153 passing yards and eight touchdown passes.
Bisons Head Coach Brian Dobie says, despite last week’s massive loss by the Bears, his team won’t be underestimating them.
He has high praise for the work Morris has done and sees similarities between the two programs. In 2003, the Bisons were in a similar situation and blown out 71-16 at Foote Field. While it was a tough blow to the program, it was one that didn’t keep them down. Just four years later the Bisons were on top of the Canadian University Football world as they defeated Saint Mary’s to win the Vanier Cup. So Dobie understands how the rebuilding process works and views the Bears as a quality opponent.
Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Foote Field. Kevin Karius will have full highlights on News Hour Final at 11 p.m. It’s also “Alumni Week” at the U of A, where the first 400 fans will receive rally towels.
AROUND THE CANADA WEST
Just one other game on tap Friday as the Saskatchewan Huskies (1-2) visit the (6) UBC Thunderbirds (2-1) at 8 p.m. MT.
“Canada West Football on Shaw TV” will feature the undefeated (1) Calgary Dinos (3-0) visiting the winless Regina Rams (0-3) on Saturday afternoon (kickoff at 4 p.m. on Shaw HD 304, Shaw TV).
The Dinos are coming off an 80-point performance against the Alberta Golden Bears. The offence racked up 975 yards of total offence and found the end zone 10 times.
Quarterback Andrew Buckley was named CIS offensive player of the week, after throwing for 452 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also completed over 80 per cent of his passes.
“We’re just looking to keep the momentum going,” said Buckley. The danger for us is getting complacent. All week the coaches have been at us to stay focused.”
Buckley is one of the smartest players both on and off the field.
Last season, he became the first player in CIS history to win both the Hec Crighton Trophy (MVP) and Russ Jackson award (academics and citizenship). His success is no surprise as the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The Dinos offence may be without the country’s top rusher. Mercer Timmis left last Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury, and is officially listed as questionable for Saturday.
Dinos still racked up 329 yards rushing after Timmis left the game, and Buckley believes they still have the weapons to be effective if Timmis does not play.
“We’re very fortunate to have so much depth at running back, and most positions on our team,” he said. “Whoever we’re handing the ball off to is going to do some damage, and we’ve got the o-line to do it.”
The Rams are still looking for their first win under new head coach Mike Gibson. He replaced Frank McCrystal who retired at the end of last season after 31 years at the helm.
Milestone watch: Kicker Johnny Mark became the all-time scoring leader in CIS football history last week, with 442 career points. He’s only 9 field goals away from setting another CIS record, for career field goals. He sits at 75, Tyler Crapigna (McMaster) set the standard last season with 84.
READ MORE: Canadian University football is coming to Global
Global’s Brendan Parker has more on Buckley Friday on News Hour Final at 11 p.m.