Mustangs still searching for first victory: Marshall still optimistic

Coach ready to take on the best

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Coach Greg Marshall

Joyce Wang

LOOKING TO EMERGE FROM THE SHADOWS OF DEFEAT. The men’s football team hopes to turn around their season with a victory over the Ottawa Gee Gees on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

While losing is not something head coach Greg Marshall has been accustomed to over his storied career, his team lost their first two games of the season; they find themselves tied for last place in the Ontario University Athletics standings.

While some may be quick to push the panic button, particularly in a short eight-game season, Marshall remains optimistic heading into the team’s third game versus the defending Yates Cup champion Ottawa Gee Gees.

“You look at the mistakes we’ve made over the past few games and you try to correct them and not forget about them, but you try not to let them weigh you down.

“The one thing I learned in the CFL was how to keep an even keel. Players will react to you, and if you get too anxious then they’re going to realize something is wrong,” he said.

Marshall has reason to be optimistic, as he received strong performances from rookie players such as linebacker John Surla and on special teams from backup running back Jeremy Hipperson.

Also, in both of the Mustangs’ opening losses, the team held leads of 14 points and nine points respectively, prior to giving way to their opponent.

Quarterback Michael Faulds addressed the team’s need to finish off teams when the offence has an opportunity to do so.

“In both games we’ve been up by quite a bit but haven’t been able to finish teams off. I think it’s just execution ... we move the ball down the field and then get stopped when we get to the other team’s end zone.”

Western had two chances late last weekend to tie the game but were intercepted in the end zone and had a fumble at the five yard line on their ensuing possession, coming away with no points on either drive.

“[In order to improve], it’s a matter of our short yardage offence executing a little better, minimizing penalties, and executing the plays that are called,” Faulds said.

Defensively, the ’Stangs were solid last week in the absence of star defensive back Matt Carapella, generating turnovers and limiting McMaster to 22 points. Nonetheless, they did surrender a few big plays, one of which resulted in a 101-yard touchdown for Marauders receiver Mike Bradwell.

Going up against Hec Crighton candidate Josh Sacobie, the defence will have to be on guard for deep throws all game long.

“He’s a quarterback that can throw a 50 to 60 yard bomb on each play,” Western defensive back Nick Kordic said. “Our main focus then is to keep the big plays to a minimum.

“As a defence we did play well [last week], but we allowed a 101 yard pass and a 58 yard pass, and those two big plays cost us the game.”

In order to contain Ottawa’s gun-slinging offence, Marshall stressed the need to control the tempo of play.

“The problem with Ottawa is that they’re so good on defence that they give their offence a lot of opportunities,” he said. “Part of their success on offence comes from their success on defence.

“In order to be successful we can’t give their offence too many chances. Last year we played them I think that was the case, our defence played very well in the first half but we just gave them too many chances. We need to gain positive field position to keep our defence fresh.”

Despite the ’Stangs disappointments early in the season, Marshall welcomes the challenge of playing the heavily favoured Gee Gees this week.

“If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and right now that’s the University of Ottawa.”

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