Volume 92, Issue 10

Friday, September 18, 1998

cheque please


Mustangs home and hungry

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

HOW THE HELL DOES THE STATUE OF LIBERTY DO THIS? Mustang quarterback Mike O'Brien, coming off OUA player of the week honours, will be looking to match last week's performance when Laurier rolls in to Westernland.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

With a large hometown crowd, the cozy confines of J.W. Little Stadium are sure to provide the Western Mustang football teamsome welcome relief this weekend when the Mustangs play their home opener against the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks.

The Mustangs (1-0), who are coming off a season opening victory against McMaster last weekend, will be looking to improve on their first half play, especially on the offensive side of the ball which fell flat coming out of the gates in Hamilton.

"Both clubs had a tough time offensively in the first half, which is a testament to the two defences," Haylor said. "There is a reassurance in coming home. There will still be some pre-game jitters but hopefully they will mostly be positive ones we can build on."

In last year's home opener with Laurier, Western soundly trounced the Golden Hawks 40-17 on the back of Craig Higgins and the running game which racked up 281 yards. Although the Mustang running corps provided the bulk of last year's offence, Haylor expects that a much more balanced attack in this season's match-up will be needed in order to insure a similar result.

"Last year's game was tight until the second half and there is no way we are going to see the same defensive structures," he said. "The key to this game is not making mistakes."

Ironically, mistakes are the name of the game for Laurier and an area in which they need drastic improvement due to their sloppy season opener against Waterloo last week. The club turned the ball over six times in total, with three coming in the first eight minutes, leading to three Warrior majors.

"When you get behind as fast and as far as we did, very few teams can come back," Zmich said. "If we want to be a threat against Western the key is to have ball control. We're hoping this week to make offense our number one defender."

The biggest worry to the Mustang brass is the size of the Laurier offensive lineman who, according to Haylor, have the ability to "control and get into us," based on their average weight of a mammoth 300 pounds. Thanks to the strength of the offensive line, Laurier quarterback Kevin Taylor was able to lead the league last year with a 55.3 per cent completion percentage.

"Their size definitely makes it tough to run a number of plays," Haylor said. "The key is that although they may be bigger than us it still comes down to mistakes. Whoever makes the bigger mistakes is more often than not going to come up short."

Mustang quarterback Mike O'Brien was named Ontario University Athletics player of the week for last week's performance in Hamilton in which he threw for 386 yards, connecting on four touchdown throws. Haylor who was very impressed with the performance of his third-year pivot said that the key to O'Brien's success is his ability to be a leader through his actions on the field.

"Mike is so emotionally consistent," Haylor said. "He doesn't run on the highs or fall when there are drops. He is a quiet leader who is respected for his ability to perform on the field when we need him."

O'Brien will no doubt have to bring his on–field leadership to the park tomorrow if Western wants to insure a 2-0 start to the season. Kick-off is at 2p.m.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

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