The University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team may have lost their season opener in Calgary 34-20 at the claws of the Dinos. But since the loss the team has caught fire, putting up a staggering 97 points over their next two games, both of which were wins over UBC and Alberta.
“I just look back on my four seasons now as head coach and it’s like we need a little wake up call early,” Head Coach Scott Flory explained. “We had that in week one and I’m just so proud of how the guys responded in Vancouver, then again here today.”
“I think we executed really well on offence, special teams and defence,” linebacker Nick Wiebe added. “I think we played a very complete game today and I think we’re just going to keep getting better from here.”
The Huskies had waited 714 days between home games at Griffiths stadium and on the very first play of the afternoon they gave the crowd of 3,157 plenty to cheer about as running back Adam Machart broke a pair of tackles and stiff-armed another defender before rumbling down the sideline 68 yards for a game opening touchdown.
“I had a second and short ready on my thumb ready to go, but I didn’t need it,” Flory chuckled. “That’s just what he does, he’s proven that. That’s just what he does: he makes people miss and he finishes in the end zone.”
“Momentum-wise it’s huge to get a start like that,” Machart added. “We just honestly just executed and all aspects of the offence was delivering, our O-Line was good, we got downfield block from our receivers, you can’t really ask for much more than that. So, it was a really good way to start the game.”
It was a sign of things to come for the Huskies who thumped their way to a 54-27 victory over the visiting Alberta Golden Bears.
The team received contributions across the board as Machart finished with 221 total yards and a touchdown on each the ground and through the air, while quarterback Mason Nyuhus lead an aerial assault that chalked up 385 yards and at quartet of touchdowns, Sam Baker the benefactor of two of those throws.
The Huskies play kept their fans engaged from the very outset, an environment that was missed by the veterans and a welcome sign to those new to the squad.
“Yeah, it’s electric. I mean, we haven’t played in front of fans in whatever, 700 and some days,” Machart said. “We’ve been juiced up all week to get out here and play for these guys and they were loud cheering us on, so it was awesome.”
“I think the fans brought it today and it was huge for us, we felt the energy all game and it was awesome,” Wiebe added. “You know, it was pretty easy to bring it all game, just with the coaching staff and the fans combined it was a great environment out there today.”
The game-to-game growth by the Huskies holds an even more weighted importance this season. Even though the team has played only three games, they only have three remaining.
“Every week you see us improve and I think we’re still going to improve,” Machart explained. “But, I think today is a little bit more indicative of what we are and what we can do, so I know that we’re just going to try to keep that momentum going.”
“We understand, man. This is a six-game season, it’s short, everything is tighter, everything is shorts, it’s like playoff mode from week one,” Flory added.
“So, we understand that. We’re not going to get stressed about it, but we understand the importance of each and every game.”
Following the victory, the Huskies now sit in second place in the Canada West behind undefeated Manitoba. However, the other four teams in the conference are just a game back sitting at 1-2.
But no matter what happens throughout the rest of the season, the coaches and veterans have this group locked into what they can control in front of them.
“There’s all kinds of stuff going on in the conference, so I mean we look at what we’re doing,” Machart said.
“So, we’re going to make sure that we’re winning the games that we need to win, going out every week doing what we need to do, worrying about ourselves and let the rest unfold.”
It’s a process the team is looking forward to with two of their final three games coming in the friendly confines of Griffiths Stadium.
“We’ve got to make sure that we protect our house, that’s been our message to our guys,” Flory said. “It’s our house, nobody comes in here, we’ve got to make sure that we protect our house.”