By Dan Elliott (Manager, Media Relations)
September 26, 2013, VANCOUVER – In search of their first home win of the season, the UBC Thunderbirds (2-2) play host to the No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies (3-1) Saturday afternoon at David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. as the second half of the season officially gets under way.
The ‘Birds are coming off their second win of the year, defeating the Regina Rams 37-27 in the Saskatchewan capital. UBC is a perfect 2-0 on the road, but has yet to put up a ‘W’ on home field despite having fourth quarter leads in both their home losses to Calgary and Manitoba.
Saskatchewan, a perennial powerhouse under head coach Brian Towriss, now in his 30th season at the helm, is ranked seventh in the nation and the only blemish on their schedule so far this season is a 36-24 loss to Calgary.
“The Huskies are fundamentally sound, well coached, and limit their mistakes,” said UBC head coach Shawn Olson. “Regardless of their record, you know they will be a tough team to play and we are looking forward to the match up, especially our running game going against their strong defensive front.”
UBC continues to lead the conference in rushing yards per game (244.5 yards/game) thanks to the play of the offensive line up front and the ability of running back Brandon Deschamps. The third year back leads the entire country in rushing yards (685) and is only 100 yards off his season total last year. However, he will have his hands full with the top run defence in the country. A team that very well could boast the best defensive line in the Canada West. The Huskies have allowed just 123.8 yards per game on the ground this season.
“The key for Brandon is to not get taken down by low tackles as he did a couple of weeks ago against Manitoba,” said Olson. “Because he is so tough to bring down, teams have resorted to diving at his feet, so if he can keep his feet up and get past the first wave he will be tough to stop.”
Saskatchewan also boasts a league high 18 sacks on the season, that is nine more than the second place team. Joel Seutter leads the way with 4.5 sacks.
Defensively, the ‘Birds will be looking for a little retribution against Saskatchewan quarterback Drew Burko who torched UBC last year for 649 yards passing and eight touchdowns while completing 75% of his passes in two wins. Look for Miguel Barker to be matched up against First Team All-Canadian receiver Kit Hillis. Despite having a quiet year so far (19 receptions, 177 yards), Hillis has the ability to be a game changer. Last September, he made 14 receptions for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the Huskies 39-34 win over UBC.
Saturday officially marks the half way point of the 2013 season and the Thunderbirds find themselves in fourth place (the final playoff spot) behind Manitoba (2-2), Saskatchewan (3-1), and Calgary (4-0). However, if this year has proven anything it’s that there is much more parity in the conference and anything could happen in the final four games of the year.
“We haven’t been perfect this season, but we have shown a lot of resolve and effort,” said Olson. “This group has the ability to bounce back, to not be phased by an early deficit, and know every game isn’t over until the final whistle blows.”
The game will be shown live on Shaw TV and will be webcasted at canadawest.tv