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‘You’ve got to win the line of scrimmage’: Huskies vets leading in the trenches

WATCH ABOVE: Veterans are key to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies' success on the defensive line.

University of Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Scott Flory puts a lot of emphasis on winning the trench battle along the line of scrimmage.

It should come as no surprise, considering the three-time Grey Cup champion is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman.

“That’s what it comes down to,” Flory said. “That’s a big focus for me, along the offensive line, as well as along the defensive line, is that we’ve got to win the line of scrimmage. It just makes every other facet of your game that much easier.”

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The line of scrimmage should be an area of strength on the defensive side of the ball for the dogs, whose D-line is anchored by returnees Riley Pickett and Evan Machibroda.

“Honestly, it’s just about us competing with each other and so we’re pushing each other every day in the weight room and the film room too,” Machibroda said. “It’s just a lot of hard work all around, so it makes for a better group overall.”

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“I think that we can out-perform (last year) because we had a really good off-season,” Pickett added. “Joel Lapinski, our strength and conditioning coach, really did a great job with us. We’re all bigger, faster and stronger; we’re going to hit the quarterback that much faster and stop the run that much better.

“So, I think our team is bound for success now.”

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Pickett and Machibroda combined for nine sacks last season, a number that could jump again this year. If it does, it will be in large part due to the all-Canadian among the starting three.

“Machibroda’s usually eating the triple team, so he’s making our life a lot easier on the edges, getting those single teams,” Pickett said. “We can really thank him for that. He’s the true grinder out there and he’s the reason that we get those sacks, honestly.”

Flory also has high expectations for Machibroda.

“Evan’s going to draw attention in the middle. He was an all-Canadian last year for a reason,” Flory added. “I expect him to have as good or better of a season, without a doubt.”

As for who of the starting three — Machibroda, Pickett or former CanWest all-star Nick Dheilly — will end up the sack leader for the dogs…

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“I want to say myself,” Pickett grinned. “But Dheilly is a pretty good burner off of the edge, so he might have me in that. At the end of the day, it’s just team success that matters, but individual success comes with that as well.”