Dinos step into big pile of Bison shit

By Britany Bingham

During the late 1990s Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengal’s, Bruce Coslet, once commented about a losing season. “We can’t run. We can’t pass. We can’t stop the run. We can’t stop the pass. Other than that, we’re just not a very good football team right now.”

That quote pretty much sums up the Dinos’ first football game of the season Sat., Sep. 3.

On a very warm and windy day in the deteriorated city of Winnipeg, the Dinos suffered a slow, painful and humiliating 51-10 loss against the University of Manitoba Bisons. The game was extremely physical right from the start with repeated technical and unnecessary roughness calls. Unfortunately, the Bisons seemed to be doing most of the damage. All sorts of penalties riddled the game, accounting for almost 200 yards.

You’d think with a fifth-year quarterback and 16 other returning starters the 2005 Dinos would put up more than a lackluster performance in their season opener. The offense accumulated an embarrassing 221 total yards against the 422 offensive yards by the Bisons. A total of nine turnovers resulted in 31 points for Manitoba and 12 Dino first downs to the Bisons’ 23, put the half time score at 37-1 for Manitoba.

In the past, the beginning of the third quarter normally meant a refocused effort from our men in red. On Saturday, however, this was not the case. After a missed field goal, numerous ill-fated offensive drives, and with the Bisons steadily pulling farther ahead, both teams opted to put in second string players. With five fumbles, four of which were lost, Chuck Guedo was replaced by first year player Mike McPherson in the fourth quarter, who led the Dinos to their first and only scoring drive of the game.

“As an offense we made a lot of mistakes,” said McPherson. “We were prepared, however, nothing seemed to go our way. We made some critical mistakes and then everything just seemed to fall apart. A lot of mental errors cost us the game.”

On the positive side, McPherson proved to have excellent concentration and confidence on the field. He kept his cool and got the job done.

“I wish I didn’t have to go into the game in that sort of situation,” said the modest rookie. “We were down by 48 points, and I was coming in as a backup. I played okay considering it was my first game. It was definitely a learning experience and it was a good chance to for me to get some playing time.”

It’s hard to believe that this young player didn’t even start playing football until he was 17 years old. If his performance on Saturday is any indication, Dinos fans should definitely look forward to seeing him play again.

An honorable mention must also be given to offensive lineman Tim O’Neill, who more than flattened a Bison player, sending him flying during an attempted touchdown in the fourth quarter. Running back and kicker Steve Hughes also wowed the crowd with his opening 80-yard punt and continued to help the Dinos get out of the red zone by punting a total of 326 yards in nine attempts. Props must be given to wide receiver Dave Holowaychuk for surviving one of the hardest hits of the game and immediately returning to his feet and walking off the field with a fractured collarbone. That was a true of example of Dino pride.

The overworked and exhausted defense did the best they could. But with little rest due to excessive turnovers it was only a matter of time before they broke down. Key players included linebacker D.J. Wickham, who totaled seven solo tackles, defensive back Chris Wollin and defensive lineman Matt Hiduk who, accumulated five solo tackles each. Hiduk and David Gruninger both managed to sack the Manitoba quarterback.

“Our biggest mistake was that we gave up big plays. As a defense, our fundamentals were lacking. However, we definitely had a better second half… a lot better,” Wickham explained. “We picked up the intensity as much as we could and tried to keep them from putting any more points on the board. We were pretty tired by the fourth quarter but that’s the game of football. Overall, it was a pretty mediocre game.”

As fans, we have to remember that this was also only the first game of eight. The Dinos have lots of time to rebound and pull their game together. They need to start working as a team, especially since their four away games are all right at the beginning of the season.

Their next game is in Golden Bear territory up in Edmonton Sat., Sep. 10 at 7 p.m. Any game against the Bears is demanding both physically and mentally due to the bragging rights associated with a win. A victory next Saturday will not only guarantee bragging rights but will, with any luck, re-instill some much needed confidence into our varsity team.