VANCOUVER — Canada’s most unpredictable university football team is the kind of unit that can re-invent itself in the space of a weekend.
And the latest chapter, which unfolded at Edmonton’s chilly Foote Field on Saturday was just another reminder why the UBC Thunderbirds will always be a dangerous football team.
As part of UBC’s 39-21 win over the Alberta Golden Bears, a victory which kept the blue-and-gold tied for second with Manitoba at 3-2 in the Canada West standings with three more games remaining, the Thunderbirds finally discovered a balance on offence, heartening to head coach Blake Nill, especially in light of the team’s early struggles to establish a steady ground game.
“It’s not that we’ve been abandoning the run game,” said Nill on Sunday morning. “We’ve tried to be very selective and strategic as to when we run it to allow confidence to be built in our players, and yesterday it was working.”
Boy, was it.
Over it’s first four conference games, UBC had rushed for a total of 205 yards. On Saturday, they rushed for 278.
Bruising tailback Brandon Deschamps rumbled for 86 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Will Watson took two touches coming out of the backfield on jet sweeps and gained 72 yards. And quarterback Michael O’Connor gained another 48 in the zone-read game.
“Brandon was able to create some seams for himself and the O-line was working hard,” said Nill. “And Willie did a great job.”
How tilted had the pass-run balance been in the four conference games prior Saturday’s win? UBC had thrown the ball for 1,326 yards and rushed it for 205. That’s over six times more passing yards than rushing. On Saturday, the rush (278 yards) was more productive than the pass (210 yards).
O’Connor threw TD passes to Alex Morrison and Ben Cummings, while Quinn van Gylswyk kicked five field goals.
UBC and the rest of Canada West enters its bye weekend, and action resumes at Thunderbird Stadium on Oct. 17 when the ‘Birds play a 2 p.m. rematch against Alberta.