There's no sense complicating matters here, so University of Manitoba Bisons defensive co-ordinator Stan Pierre and linebacker Thomas Miles won't even start.
The main storyline to Saturday's critical Homecoming Game between the 2-2 Bisons and University of Regina Rams, 1-3, is as simple as this: until the Herd defence proves it can stop somebody, particularly through the air, then they can expect an all-out barrage from the moment the ball is put on the tee until the final gun.
"This is a huge game for our group on defence, especially," said Pierre during a break from game preparations this week. "It's no secret we've been struggling and (the Rams) will make no secret that they are going to test us and throw the ball all over the park. So what better way to improve and meet the challenge than against a team that is going to look you right in the face and say, 'OK, we're going to throw the ball. Try to stop us.' "
The Rams' offensive numbers have been gaudy through four games, with quarterback Cayman Shutter leading the country in passing with 1,666 yards and 10 touchdowns against three interceptions.
The Rams average 416.5 yards passing per game and, conversely, the Bisons have been surrendering a whopping 520.8 yards per game -- including 350 yards and 11 TDs through the air. That vulnerability was never more evident than in last week's loss to the fifth-ranked Calgary Dinos, who scored a 91-yard TD on their first play from scrimmage en route to a 48-24 win as part of a day in which the Bisons gave up over 500 yards through the air.
"Our disasters have been gi-normous disasters," said Pierre. "If you make a mistake, it can't be for a 90-yard touchdown, it has to be just for a first down."
The Bisons offence has been drawing a lot of national attention this season and with good reason. But if this team is going to make some noise in November the defence knows full well they can't keep getting into these track-meet games in which the numbers on the scoreboard keep growing and growing.
"This is a huge game. There are obvious playoff implications here and for our team -- and our defence specifically -- we need a huge bounce-back game," said Miles, a third-year linebacker. "This week against the Rams is definitely going to be an air-show."
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