By Bo Rhodes
Ugly. That is the only way to describe the play by the University of Calgary Dinos last Saturday as they faced off against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at McMahon Stadium. In what could be the biggest understatement of the year so far, coach Tony Fasano said, "we got physically beat up."
Following two straight losses, the Dinos needed a win badly. It was painfully obvious within minutes of the opening kick-off that it was not going to happen. For both teams, the first quarter was filled with an inability to do anything with the football. For the Dinos, attempts at running the ball were thwarted by the powerful UBC defence led by defensive lineman Tyson St. James. The T-Birds had problems of their own with fourth-year quarterback Shawn Olson overthrowing on two possible touchdowns, two missed field goals and a handful of bad penalties. A single by UBC’s third-year kicker Duncan O’Mahony was the only point scored in the first 15 minutes of play.
The second quarter was all UBC as the Thunderbirds went to work building an insurmountable lead. A field goal followed by a safety off a missed snap gave the T-Birds some momentum and led to a short touchdown by Olson. Another field goal in the final minute of the first half gave the visitors a comfortable 16-0 cushion. An appalling net offence of 39 yards by the Dinos in the first half, illustrates exactly what kind of day the boys had.
Things took a dramatic turn for the worse in the second half as the Thunderbirds made the most of their massive playbook. The third quarter saw limited scoring with the Dinos getting their first point of the game off a 54-yard punt by kicker Jimmy Hartley.
The fourth quarter was an entirely different story however as the Thunderbirds ran for 284 yards on the ground and took to the air with an assault of 316 more yards.
Systematically working their way down the field, the Thunderbirds got within striking distance and scored their first of three fourth-quarter touchdowns. UBC built such an impressive lead that second-string quarterback Phil Deeks and second-string running back Julien Radlein saw some rare playing time. Both managed to score touchdowns and Radlein even passed starting running back Akbal Singh in total yards by 41 in six fewer carries.
The Dinos would not sit down. After a beautiful reception by Geoff Drover, they were able to run in a quarterback carry for the home side’s only major of the day. When the final whistle blew, the score was 43-9 for UBC
"We didn’t block well," said Fasano, in response to the overwhelming destruction. "We didn’t run hard. We didn’t tackle well. We didn’t pursue well. I think because of that, we were unsuccessful. We were not a good football team on Saturday. We fundamentally did not do some good things and any time you don’t do the fundamentals, you’re not going to win too many football games."
With a current record of 1-3 and only four games left in the regular season, one wonders if some major changes are desperately needed. Fasano is reluctant to alter the game plan significantly.
"You can’t abandon ship. You’re not going to outsmart people by changing things. You have to do the fundamentals well and that’s the basis of any sport."
Injuries are also kicking the crap out of the Dinos right now, and the loss of valuable players Ian Schafer and David Swagar in Saturday’s game only added to their troubles. With the Dinos holding the bye this weekend, the next game is on Oct. 9, giving the team some much-needed rest.