Coach Brian Dobie is confident his Manitoba Bisons football team is ready for Saturday’s season opener in Vancouver, but admits there will be some challenges.
The veteran coach already has a pre-season win under his belt after the Herd defeated Regina last week on the Rams’ home turf.
Going into the season without a top 10 CIS ranking, the Bisons still have a few positions they haven’t solidified yet before they meet UBC. Cam Clark will get the start in the quarterback position, but that could change rather quickly.
“A quarterback change could be made at the end of the first quarter in Vancouver,” Dobie said. “We could play tag team quarterbacks for a while. Nobody has started in the CIS yet — we’ve got a team that’s really coming up and that’s our big road block right now.”
UBC Thunderbids’ QB Billy Greene — which Dobie on Tuesday called “the best quarterback in the nation” — will be the focus of the Bisons out of the gate. The fifth-year player passed for 2,558 yards, completing 171 of 286 pass attempts, throwing for 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions. On top of that, Greene was named Canada West Player of the Year.
“We’ve got enough to worry about going into game one,” Dobie added, saying the team needs to shift its energy into playing well rather than worrying about the opposing team’s best players. “Our own assignments, our own technique, our own responsibilities. Early on (in the season) it’s not so bad. Everybody is worried about doing their job. I don’t think the question for our players is Billy Greene or his receivers — it’s them.”
The Bisons start the season with five fifth-year captains, including three-timer Thomas Hall. The 22-year-old was fourth on the team with 35.0 total tackles (23 solo) and added two sacks, two interceptions, three break-ups and one forced fumble in 2011.
“It’s a character team,” Hall said of this season’s squad. “Everyone seems to have bought in so far. We’ve got a group that really gets along well with each other and everyone works really hard. Our identity is that we’re hard working, we’re young… it’s almost like people don’t know anything else but to work hard and just play football.”
Other captains include DB Teague Sherman, DL Adam Hindley, OL Landon Rice, and receiver/kicker Brendon Bowman.
Fans can catch the action on UMFM 101.5 beginning at 3:45 p.m.