We continue our look at the Canada West with last year's Hardy Cup champions.
CAN the Dinos keep it rolling? It took 13 years to get a playoff win and then the U of C did it twice, in one year. The Dinos have not been in the favourite position since 1996.
DOES coach Blake Nill have the former St. Mary Huskies he needs to get to the Vanier Cup? Nill added one of Canada’s best quarterbacks the 6 foot 6 former Hec Creighton winner Eric Glavic. Glavic is still recovering from his knee injury and will have to compete with returning QB Deke Junior. Glavic led the St. Mary’s Huskies to the 2007 Vanier Cup game. He joins Andrea Bonaventura, Brandon Rockhill and Deji Oduwole as former Huskies that will be looked to contribute for the Dinos.
HOW will the Dinos' offence deal with the return of RB Anthony Woodson? The second team all-Canadian in 2007 went down with an injury in second week of last year. After the injury Matt Walter emerged as the top player in the Canada West. Woodson moved to SB in the playoffs last year, making 2 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Hardy Cup. He is expected to start the season in that position.
WILL the dressing room suffer from the suspension of LB Duncan McLean for steroid use? McLean will no longer be eligible to play for the Dinos, but the question remains: Are there other players in the locker room doing the same thing as McLean?
2008 recap and record — (7-4, 5-3). Not only did the Dinos pick up their first playoff win since 1995, they picked up the school’s ninth Hardy Cup. The Red and White lost in the Uteck Bowl the next week to the eventual Vanier Cup champions, the Laval Rouge et Or. The Dinos were one of last season’s biggest surprises, having over 30 first and second year players on the roster. Calgary was one of only two teams (Saskatchewan the other) that scored more points than they gave up. Before giving up 59 points to Laval, the team held seven teams to under 20 points. Walter came away as Canada West’s Hec Creighton nominee. Nathan Coehoorn and Andrea Bonaventura joined Walter on the All-Canadian team. The team dropped two close games to the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser, leading to a tied for second regular season finish.
Setting up ’09 — It has been a long time since there has been this much optimism going into a Dinos' season. The offence starts with the dynamic duo in the backfield. On one side of the coin say hello to Canada West MVP Matt Walter. Running for 904 yards and punching in 4 major scores was a hardy encore to his 7 touchdown performance in 2007. The other side of the coin features 2007 All-Canadian Anthony Woodson. Woodson ripped off 1,183 rushing yards in 2007 (finishing second in Canada) and scored 6 times. Woodson hurt himself in the second week of last season. Woodson will likely take his explosiveness to the slot back position, where he will have one of the biggest transfers in the country throwing him the ball. QB Erik Glavic transferred to Calgary in January and will be on the field to begin the season. The pivot led the St. Mary’s Huskies to the Vanier Cup in 2007. Glavic may find a favourite target in All-Canadian Nathan Coehoom – a man who pulled in 33 balls last year for 363 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Returning starters — Offence 10, Defence 8
Stepping out — (players no longer with the team): OL Dylan Steenbergen (7th overall pick, 2008 draft, Montreal Alouettes), James Green (18th overall pick, 2008 draft, Toronto Argonauts), DB Jon Waldie (conference all-star), DL Patrick Callan, DL Josh MacDonald, DB Brett Ferguson
Stepping up — QB Erik Glavic (2438 career passing yards, 18 career TDs), RB Matt Walter (904 yards, 4 TDs), RB Anthony Woodson (1,183 rushing yards in 2007), WR Nathan Corhoorn, WR Anthony Parker, DL Deji Oduwole (31 tackles and 5 sacks), OL Paul Swiston (6 foot 9 inches, 311 pounds), LB Andrea Bonaventura, DB Matt Grohn
Future reference — It is more about incremental upgrades this year, after two years of roster restructuring in Cow Town. Coach Nil’s 2009 recruiting class does not have the overall numbers of the last three years – but still packs a punch. Three of the Dino’s recruits were named to the All-Tournament team at World Juniors. First team tailback Steven Lumbala comes to the U of C from St. Francis High School. Red-shirted freshman Kirby Fabien joined Lumbala on the first team and could step in right away and contribute for the Dinos. Offensive lineman Carson Rockhill was named second team all world. The Dinos also welcome the three best players from Alberta’s bets high school football team. Running back Storm Bartsoff, LB Nick Demas and WR Austin Prince will be sporting the red and white.
Coach & Coordinators — Blake Nill (11-13 in Calgary, 60-28 in career) starts his fourth season as the head coach of the Dinos. Nill returned to Calgary from a head coaching stint at St. Mary’s, winning 2 Vanier Cups as the Huskies head coach. He was CIS coach of the year in 1999. John Stevens returns for his 7th season as the team’s defensive coordinator. Stevens was the CIS coach of the year in 1997 while he served as head coach for St. FX University. Greg Vavra is the offensive coordinator.
Enrolment — 29,500 (24,000 undergrads and 5,500 graduate students)
Stadium/atmosphere — McMahon Stadium is the home of both the Dinos and the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. The stadium seats 35,650 – making it the biggest stadium in the CIS. The challenge for the Dinos is making the stadium look full. The west stands are not used during the game, leaving a big empty void. The team expects 7,500 for the season opener, but only drew 1,500 in the Canada West final against Simon Fraser.
Alumni in NFL and CFL — OL Dan Federkeil (Indianapolis Colts), C Tim O’Neil (Calgary Stampeders), LB Aguston Barrenechea (Hamilton Tiger Cats), S James Green (Toronto Argonauts), G Mark Dewitt (Toronto Argonauts)
Stock up or stock down — Up. It is hard to go up from a Hardy Cup, but the Dinos are hoping to do exactly that and improve on their 5-3 regular season finish from a year ago. The team returns all of its offensive weapons plus adds a former Hec Creighton winner as their new quaterback. Coach Nill has had the time now to build the roster that suits his style of play. Now all that Nill is waiting for is the same national success he had while coaching St. Mary’s
From last year’s preview: “They only get to play SFU once this year instead of twice, so their playoff fortunes will likely be determined by the outcome of their games against Alberta and UBC.”
Schedule (all times Mountain)
Saturday September 4th @ Saskatchewan, 7:00pm (Shaw TV)Media — All games are broadcasted on the Fan960 in Calgary.
Saturday September 12th vs. Alberta, 1:00pm
Friday September 18th @ Regina, 7:00pm
Saturday September 26th vs. Simon Fraser, 1:00pm
Saturday October 3rd @ UBC, 3:00pm
Saturday October 10th vs. Manitoba, 1:00pm
Saturday October 24th vs. Regina, 1:00pm (Shaw TV)
Saturday October 31st @ Alberta, 1:00pm