The Golden Bears football team will be looking to improve upon how their season began in 2011 in a familiar situation as they travel to Saskatoon to start their season on the road against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
The most notable storyline for the Bears going into their season opening game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies is who will be standing behind center at the beginning of the game as the Golden Bears’ starting quarterback.
Curtis Dell and Ryan Schwartz battled in training camp for the starting spot, and while Stead has made a decision on who will start, he has not yet announced who that starter will be.
“I’ve talked to both quarterbacks, they know who’s starting. They both very easily could start on any team and they earned it in the offseason and during camp,” Golden Bears head coach Jeff Stead said.
“We’re excited to see how the first guy rolls, and if he does happen to falter at any time, we can put the second guy in. They’re both going to get snaps, but we do have a definitive number one right now and we’ll see how he responds in Saskatoon.”
Throughout the season, Stead expects the Bears’ defence to be the team’s strength. This idea will be tested against the Huskies, who themselves may be inexperienced in some areas of their defence, but will pose a threat to the Bears on the other side of the ball.
“Saskatchewan has got a very strong defensive line and our offensive line has to match that. If we can do that, then we’ll be okay, because they have some new kids as defensive backs and their linebackers are new,” Stead said. “On the other side of the ball, they’ve got a couple of explosive receivers and their offensive line is big, typical 6-3 and 300 across the board. We’re not going to overpower them, but if we can out-finesse them, we’ll be alright.”
However, to counteract the potential explosiveness of Saskatchewan’s offence, the Bears are expecting to see improvements in a number of areas on the field. According to Stead, they’ve solidified the kicking spot with Stephen Fabian. And while the Bears will still feel the loss of tailback KK Sonuga’s graduation, the U of A has added depth on offence besides Dell and Schwartz.
“With receivers, the addition of Yembeh Moiba and Casey Sherwood make a big difference, we’re a heck of a lot faster and more dynamic at that spot,” Stead said. “On offensive line, we did go through some injuries at training camp, but we’re getting healthy and that’s positive. We just need to work together for a little bit to see how they’re going to grow as a group.”
The Golden Bears will be striving to improve upon their performance in week one of last year in this familiar situation. The Bears’ first game of 2011 was also in Saskatoon against the Huskies and was the beginning of their winless season as they lost 38-7.
Stead, however, has confidence in the team he’s taking to Saskatoon this year. Either way, the team’s performance in week one will be an indicator of how the rest of this season will progress.
“We’re taking our 40 best that we have right now minus two or three guys because of injuries,” Stead said. “This is going to be a good indicator of how those guys are mentally prepared and physically and emotionally prepared to walk into Saskatchewan and play game one of their season.”
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