Mustangs use bye week to recharge batteries

JIM CRESSMAN -- Free Press Sports Reporter

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The Western Mustangs are still finding things to do, even though their next football game isn't until Nov. 5.

Like checking EBay to see what the latest offer is for an Andy Fantuz bobblehead doll.

The university distributed 2,000 of them at Saturday's game against Queen's, when Fantuz set the Canadian university record for career pass receptions with 189.

It didn't take long for one to appear on the Internet shopping channel.

Yesterday, with four days left, the top bid was $49 US ($58.25 Cdn).

"I looked at it last night, but I've got my own," head coach Larry Haylor said yesterday. "But if it goes up to $75, I might have a hundred I'll put on there."

With the bobbleheads and Saturday's 50-29 victory out of the way to secure second place and a quarter-final bye in this weekend's playoffs, Haylor finds himself in a strange position.

It's the first time he's had to contend with the bye.

"I think the challenge for us is to give our people a break of sorts that will . . . allow them to physically and mentally regather themselves," he said before last night's practice.

"But at the same time, the challenge is to be doing things that take us forward and make us better and guarantee we don't lose our edge."

The players were off Monday and it'll be the same Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

They won't know their semifinal opponent until after the Guelph at Ottawa game on Sunday afternoon.

Ottawa finished third while Guelph was sixth. Fifth-place Windsor plays at fourth-place McMaster on Saturday.

First-place Laurier will play the lowest-surviving team, leaving the other winner to play Western in London.

Haylor said because they can't begin preparing to face a specific opponent until Sunday night, the coaches this week are placing an emphasis on fundamentals, "and then work more toward teamwork and systems and execution."

Haylor said Guelph at Ottawa on Sunday works in the Mustangs' favour.

"I think it's probably more of an inconvenience for them and I wouldn't want to be doing it."

Haylor said it's important that the players not stray from the eventual task.

"Even though it was just helmets and shoulder pads (yesterday), we made it clear to people that by no means are we gearing down.

"When we've been on the other side of the bye, where we're playing, our argument has been, and there is some truth to it, that you keep playing because you keep your game speed, your game rhythm, your game fitness and you build it.

"I felt in the last two or three weeks, and maybe a little bit longer than that, the one thing we have struggled with has been our rhythm and our flow on offence. We need a lot of work on that and I think you can make the same argument around our defence."


Videos

Photos