2014 CIS Football Team Preview: UBC Thunderbirds

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Source: Wilson Wong, UBC SportsInfo

2013 regular season record: 4-4
2013 regular season standings: 4th in CWUAA
2013 playoff record: 0-1
2013 playoff finish: Lost 42-38 to Calgary inCanada West semi final

Heading into the fifth season under head coach Shawn Olson, theUBC Thunderbirds have high expectations for 2014. Returning 19 of24 starters, including three CIS All-Canadians, the Thunderbirdsare ready to take the next step and bring home the program’sfirst Hardy Cup since 1997.

Offensively UBC will once again be led by running back BrandonDeschamps. The third leading rusher in the CIS last season, thefourth-year back from Prince George, BC, racked up 1,007 yards onthe ground in just seven games. He will be running behind a hulkingoffensive line anchored by CIS Second Team All-Canadian AlecPennell.

Defensively the Thunderbirds return a front four that will sendshivers down the spine of opposing quarterbacks. Led by Canada WestJ.P. Metras nominee Donovan Dale, speedy rush end Kareem Ba, and2014 Hamilton Tiger-Cats draft pick Steve Mawa UBC will be a forceto be reckoned with as they look to become the most dominantdefense in the conference.

On special teams they have a game changer in CIS First TeamAll-Canadian punter Quinn van Gylswyk. He led the country with a43.1 punting average and was solid on field goals making good on 16of 22 opportunities.

Quote from head coach Shawn Olson:

We believe we have talented and fairly mature team. Ouroffseason leadership and participation has been outstanding and inmy experience that normally leads to very successful seasons, so weexpect to be a difficult team to play against this year in thetough Canada West.

We have added some speed and size to our roster with thisyear’s recruiting class. As usual, we have temperedexpectations with our first=year players, however, with that beingsaid we do have some new players with eye popping athleticism whocould be a factor for us this season.

I hate predicting where we slot in this season and am not muchfor playing games on paper, which is why we play games. Our focuswill be on our preparation and how we execute, but I believe thiswill be one of our top teams we have assembled at UBC since I havebeen the coach here.

Head Coach: Shawn Olson

– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2014):5th year as head coach
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2014): 5thyear
– Career regular season record with team: 8-24
– Career regular season record in CIS: 8-24
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffsonly): 8-27
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only):8-27

OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 9

Key returning players:

RB Brandon Deschamps (Prince George, BC) is set for his fourthseason with UBC. He was one of just three players to rush for over1,000 yards in 2013 and the only one not named a CIS First-TeamAll-Canadian. He racked up 1,007 yards on the ground in just sevengames averaging an impressive 143.9 yards rushing per game.

REC David Scott (El Paso, Texas) is back for his fifth and finalseason with the Thunderbirds and is looking to pick up where heleft off in the second half of the 2013 season. The lanky wideoutbecame the go to receiver for the Thunderbirds leading UBC with 40receptions for 613 yards and four touchdowns.

OL Alex Pennell (Port Coquitlam, BC) anchors a hulking offensiveline that finished third in the Canada West averaging 219 yardsrushing per game, while giving up just seven quarterback sacks,best in the conference. The 6’8, 320lbs lineman earned CISSecond Team All-Canadian honours in 2013 and looks to continue hisrapid ascension in 2014 as one of the best offensive linemen in thecountry.

QB Carson Williams (Abbotsford, BC) split time last season withGreg Bowcott as the Thunderbirds number one pivot. The two playedoff each other well in 2013 with Williams finishing the season with1,012 yards passing and four touchdowns. He will be looking to takeover the job on a full-time basis in 2014.

QB Greg Bowcott (Abbotsford, BC) is the other half ofUBC’s two-headed quarterback monster. He adds another elementwith his rushing ability, finishing with 319 yards on the groundand six rushing touchdowns to go along with 828 passing yards andseven touchdown passes. Like Williams, he too will be looking toplay himself in to the permanent number one job.

Key recruits or transfers:

RB Terrell Davis (Victoria, BC) comes to UBC after transferringfrom Arizona State. The 2011 BC AAA High School Football Player ofthe Year, Davis is excited for the opportunity to return to hishome province and to challenge incumbent Brandon Deschamps forplaying time at the running back position.

REC Marcus Davis (Victoria, BC) is the younger brother ofArizona State transfer Terrell and is the two-time BC AAA HighSchool Football Player of the Year (2012 & 2013) while helpingMount Doug to three-straight BC AAA Championship titles(2011-2013). With his skill package he can be used in all types ofsituations as a running back, receiver, or returner.

Key losses:

OL Jas Dhillon
OL Gord Randall
REC Micha Theil

DEFENCE

Number of returning starters: 10

Key returning players:

DL Donovan Dale (Saskatoon, SK) made an immediate impact in hisfirst season with the Thunderbirds in 2013 leading UBC with fivesacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss. He was named a CIS First TeamAll-Canadian and the Canada West nominee for the J.P. Metras Awardas the country’s most outstanding lineman.

DE Kareem Ba (White Rock, BC) is the type player who has theability to take over a game. Last season he recorded fivequarterback sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and three forcedfumbles. Expect him to be a thorn in the side of offensive linemenall across the Canada West.

LB Yianni Cabylis (Regina, SK) adapted well to the CIS gameafter joining the Thunderbirds from the Regina Thunder in 2013. Heeventually established himself as the anchor of UBC’slinebacking corps finishing the year with 42 tackles, three tacklesfor a loss, and a fumble recovery touchdown. He saved his best gamefor the playoffs where he led the Thunderbirds with 16 tackles inan opening round loss to Calgary.

S Jordan Bosa (Burnaby, BC) emerged as one of UBC’sleaders on defense in 2013, establishing himself as theThunderbirds starting safety. The physical, hard-hitting man in themiddle of the Thunderbirds defense led UBC with 45.5 tackles in2013 while also adding an interception.

DB Nik Termansen (North Vancouver, BC) is set for his thirdseason with the Thunderbirds and is coming off a 2013 campaign inwhich he started at cornerback and had two interceptions, four passbreak-ups, six passes defended, and 32 tackles. He will be lookedupon to shutdown the top opposing receivers in 2014.

Key recruits or transfers:

DE Treymont Levy (Coquitlam, BC) comes to UBC from theCJFL’s Langley Rams. Considered a late bloomer, Levy has thesize and speed to be a difference maker at the CIS level. He willlook to bolster an already impressive front four.

DL Levi Hua (Abbotsford, BC) is fresh out of Abbotsford’sW.J. Mouat High School program. The 6’1, 285 linemen wasimpressive during this year’s spring game and hopes tocontinue his development as he makes the transition to CISfootball.

Key losses:

Martin Park (DL), Tom Harris (LB), Miguel Barker (DB)

SPECIALTEAMS

Key returning players:

K/P Quinn van Gylswyk (Victoria, BC) is a game changer onspecial teams. In his first year with UBC in 2013 he led the nationin punting with a 43.1-yard average, earning CIS First TeamAll-Canadian honours. He also was solid on field goals convertingon 16 of his 22 opportunities.

Returner Alex Morrison (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) proved to be agame breaker in 2013 setting a new Canada West record for kickoffreturn yards with 679 yards, including a 102-yard return for atouchdown. He also led the conference in punt returns with 424yards, averaging 12.1 yards per return.

Key recruits or transfers
None

Key losses
None

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