Gary Milner/the Gauntlet

Calgary gives U of A a lesson in Madden stragegy

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Last Friday, I felt like I watched two-and-a-half hours of Madden 2003. Our Dinos beat the University of Alberta Golden Bears 26-23 but it felt like a video game. The play calling on both sides was so repetitive I almost expected to see big John Madden sitting next to me in the press box, sipping his caffeine and rattling of something incoherent after each big play.

The problem is this: the Dinos are missing their number-two receiver Blake Mechan because of injury. This left them with quarterback Lincoln Blumell and Jamie Elliott, (probably the best receiver in Canadian university football).

"Hey, how 'bout that Elliott," said Head Coach Tony Fasano's inner monologue. "Let's throw to him a lot."

However, former U of C assistant and current U of A Head Coach

Jerry Friesen couldn't be fooled.

"How 'bout that Elliott," he thought. "Bet Tony's gonna throw to him a lot."

Fasano's ploy to get Elliott into the game was as obvious as my Madden strategies. I too throw to Randy Moss over and over again, knowing that no five-foot-eight corner can stop him on a flag pattern. My friends usually catch on and double cover with a safety, and Friesen tried this too, but he over-committed his coverage and left the Golden Bears defensive line as exposed as Chaisey Lain on late night Cinemax.

I refuse to believe the Golden Bears are really so bad that Calgary ravaged them for 306 yards on the ground, including a 200-yard game from Jeff Williams. Williams is good, but not that good. Nobody is that good, not even Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals.

On the other side of the ball, the Dinos did just the opposite. Their run defence was amazing--the front seven (or eight) stepped up and denied the Bears all night long. But Friesen proved wily. He continued to go over the top on the Dinos, exposing a weak secondary to the tune of 425 yards. From the sidelines, it seemed as if Fasano committed the gravest error any Madden player can do. He waited until the very end to draft his secondary, a foolish move indeed.

In reality, what looked like a Madden game was simply a test between two coaches who knew each other's strengths well. The Calgary secondary is young, and is the obvious place to pick on for any opposing offensive mind. On the other side of the ball, the Dinos continue to prove that they can beat you through the air or through the run. If you deny one, as the Bears tried to do, the other will kill you.

With the win, the Dinos move to 4-2 on the season, second only to the Manitoba Bisons in the Canada West Conference. Calgary plays the top-ranked Bisons next week in Winnipeg, in a rematch of the wild homecoming game that ended with a Dinos overtime loss.