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September 28, 2017

Bisons | Week 5 Preview

Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Bisons Football vs Alberta Golden Bears in week one CIS regular season action September 16. Jeff Miller Bison Sports ©2016

Brian Dobie has seen many, many things in his years roaming the sidelines as the University of Manitoba Bisons head coach.

But nothing even comes close to what unfolded for his football team in the days between September 16-23.

Just to recap, the Bisons were absolutely annihilated 76-17 by the Calgary Dinos in their Homecoming Game to open the week and then, after being essentially given up for dead, bounced back to knock off the sixth-ranked Regina Rams 18-16 a week later in Saskatchewan.

“Our guys hear this all the time – it’s my philosophy of life – so here we go,” began Dobie. “It’s not what happens to you in life that defines your character. Your character is defined by how you react to what happens to you in life.”

“We lost by 59 points to Calgary and in my whole career, 43 years of coaching, never have I ever coached a team that’s been blown out – and I’ve coached some blown-out games – has a team faced such tremendous adversities and obstacles and went on the road to face the No.-6 team in the nation and beat them in their new stadium in Regina.

“The way they reacted by what was thrown to them was a defining moment for their character.”

The win breathed some life back into the Bisons’ 2017 season after opening with three losses. And now, at 1-3, they face the Alberta Golden Bears, 0-4, in a rare Friday afternoon game at Investors Group Field that could launch them back into the playoff picture.

On top of that, the win in Regina provided a template for a team stocked with veterans, but also relying on some of its young charges – particularly on defence – this season.

One of the big moves Dobie made prior to the Regina game was to change his starting quarterback, moving from Theo Deezar to Des Catellier. He called the switch a ‘corporate decision.’

“I’ve been here a long time and that doesn’t happen very often,” Dobie said. “But we began the year 0-3 and we needed to do some things, especially after the Calgary blowout.

“Theo Deezar has been so good for us and will continue to be so. He was great this week in practice. But bringing Des in just gave us a different kind of look and a different kind of spark.”

Catellier finished 18 of 29 for 212 yards with one interception in the win, but looked comfortable running new offensive coordinator Blair Atkinson’s attack.

“I just wanted to make my correct reads, get the ball out of my hands quickly and manage the game,” said Catellier. “I didn’t want to try and do too much, not try and put all the pressure on myself and put the ball in other guys’ hands and let them do the work.”

“The biggest difference (after the win) is that everyone in the locker room believes now that we have a really good shot at taking this and rolling with it.”

The Bisons got some stellar work from their defence, particularly Jayden McKoy, who picked off two passes and returned one for a TD. For his efforts, he was named the U Sports Defensive Player of the Week.

“The emotions were definitely flowing following the (Calgary) game and the next day,” said McKoy. “But right after that, the first day of practice, we just put it behind us. There’s really no way to reconcile a game like that. There’s no point in thinking about what went wrong. We just focused on our next task, put in the work every day in practice and it was good for us.

“We definitely have to win this next game against Alberta to keep our momentum going into the bye week.”


ALBERTA (0-4) at MANITOBA BISONS (1-3)

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m. Investors Group Field

TV/Radio: Live webcast (canadawest.org – fee required); 101.5 UMFM/umfm.com

Recent meetings: The Bisons swept both meetings with Alberta a year ago, winning 42-12 at home and then 67-59 in a crazy seven-OT game in Edmonton. During Brian Dobie’s tenure at Manitoba, the Bisons are 17-13-1 overall against Alberta.

FYI: The Bisons win last week in Regina was the 100th in Dobie’s career at Manitoba, including playoffs… Four members of last year’s Bisons football squad were named 2016-17 U Sports Academic All-Canadians (minimum grade-point average of 3.5 or better): Derek Dufault, Tyler Fong, Evinn Lyons-Keely and Geoff Gray.