Di­nos not tak­ing Huskies lightly

Trench war­fare ex­pected when teams face off in 82nd Hardy Cup

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - TODD SAEL­HOF tsael­hof @post­media.com

The task at hand is a big one.

Al­ways is when go­ing up against Saskatchewan foot­ballers.

So the Univer­sity of Cal­gary Di­nos know they’ll have to make them­selves a lit­tle larger, es­pe­cially when deal­ing with both the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive lines of the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan Huskies in Sat­ur­day ’s 82nd Hardy Cup, the Canada West Con­fer­ence foot­ball cham­pi­onship, at McMa­hon Sta­dium (1 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).

“They have a lot of big boys, and they’re coached re­ally well,” said Di­nos fifth-year de­fen­sive end Joel Van Pelt, the con­fer­ence’s top line­man award win­ner. “I think theirs is the best O -line other than our own in our con­fer­ence. They’re one of the most phys­i­cal O -lines we play. We have to make sure we know all our plays re­ally well and get as much film on them as we can. “We have to set the tone. “We can’t just play down and be lack­adaisi­cal.

“We have to take it to them.” Tak­ing it to them ef­fec­tively would mean a third straight con­fer­ence ti­tle and ninth in 11 sea­sons for the Di­nos (9-0) — plus a spot in the na­tional semi­fi­nal tilt one week later.

The Huskies (6-3), mean­while, are look­ing for their first Canada West crown since 2006. The last time they were in the Hardy Cup was in 2009.

But that doesn’t make the Saskatchewan side any less dan­ger­ous.

“They’ve got great ta­lent, es­pe­cially along the lines,” said Di­nos head coach Wayne Har­ris. “They play very dis­ci­plined foot­ball, and the Huskies are def­i­nitely play­ing that style of foot­ball. They def­i­nitely play their sys­tems well.”

The pay­off for be­ing dis­ci­plined came last week in the Canada West semi­fi­nal that saw them rally late to win a 31-28 over­time thriller over the host UBC Thun­der­birds.

In that game, the large of­fen­sive line kept up its end of the game plan, grind­ing away at the host T-Birds to put the Huskies in po­si­tion to pull off the up­set.

Huskies QB Kyle Siemens went 19-of-31 for 222 pass­ing yards, while run­ning back Tyler Chow hit the holes for 86 yards on 20 car­ries.

“Their quar­ter­back might be the most un­der­rated guy in our con­fer­ence,” Har­ris said. “He’s had a great ca­reer. He’s in his fifth year. He’s go­ing to be highly mo­ti­vated to come out and play well. Same thing with Chow. Chow looks like he’s run­ning well right now.”

Siemens is a dual-threat QB, putting up an aver­age of 264.6 pass­ing yards per game while throw­ing 16 touch­downs against six in­ter­cep­tions. He’s added 291 more yards along the ground.

And back­field mate Chow ran for 640 yards in eight reg­u­lar-sea­son games, av­er­ag­ing 80 yards per game, the sec­ond-high­est to­tal in the con­fer­ence.

“They re­ally took ad­van­tage of Chow in the pass­ing game as well as in the run­ning game near the end of the last game, and that’s what re­ally so­lid­i­fied their win,” said Van Pelt, a 22-year-old, 6-foot-4, 260-pounder from Cal­gary and a leader of the Di­nos de­fence that also fea­tures lineback­ers Bos­ton Rowe and Grant McDon­ald, the team’s two lead­ing tack­lers with 50 and 46 re­spec­tively.

“I think we have to be re­ally gap­sound,” Van Pelt con­tin­ued. “We have to make sure we ex­e­cute our as­sign­ments cor­rectly. We have to make sure we get into that gap, so that the lineback­ers can fill when we make the run­ning backs bounce.”

Van Pelt & Co. did a staunch job last week in con­tain­ing the lead­ing rusher in the con­fer­ence, Jamel Lyles, to just 23 yards on 10 car­ries in a 37-13 semi­fi­nal bounce of the vis­it­ing Man­i­toba Bisons.

More of that this week will go a long ways in help­ing the Di­nos de­fend the Hardy Cup. But it is a large chal­lenge against the Huskies.

“We’re do­ing re­ally well now up front (on the de­fen­sive line),” Van Pelt said. “I’m re­ally im­pressed with the guys who have all stepped up into that gap that the older guys left last year.

“We’re get­ting a lot bet­ter just as a d-line work­ing to­gether, do­ing what we have to do to get a win.”

MIKE DREW

Di­nos line­man Joel Van Pelt was named de­fen­sive line­man of the year in Canada West.

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