Football Mustangs face real test with Gee Gees

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

The Western Mustangs conquered their first challenge of the season with far more ease than anyone expected.

They face a far different second challenge Monday.

After beating the No. 6-ranked Laurier Golden Hawks 46-1 in their Ontario university football opener on Wednesday, the Mustangs are thrown right back in the grinder as they travel to Ottawa to play No. 5 Gee Gees, who won their opener 23-14 over the Lancers in Windsor.

The No. 9 Mustangs are going to get a real test as they face one of the best quarterbacks in the OUA.

Brad Sinopoli is the complete package. He has size. He can throw and run. In the opener he threw for 345 yards, making him the top passer in the league. He also ran for 126 yards to make him the top rusher as well.

The Mustang defence threw a blanket on the Hawks offence. Especially effective was the defensive secondary, which limited Laurier quarterbacks to 85 yards passing. The performance was impressive considering how young the secondary is.

One of the key changes to that secondary, though, was moving hard-hitting Craig Butler from safety to halfback, a position he played his first two years with the Mustangs, and shifting Mike Spence back to safety.

The addition of Nick Shuster, a transfer from West Vancouver, to play the corner really solidified pass coverage.

“Butler is so good with one-on-one coverage and he hits so hard, he was more comfortable playing the corner,” said Mustangs defensive coordinator Paul Gleason. “Mike Spence can really see the field and is a little quicker and he was more comfortable moving to safety. It worked out for both of them.”

There was no debate about that. Spence had three interceptions while Butler had another and was involved in eight tackles, four of them the solo variety.

Sinopoli and his receivers led by Steven Hughes who had 11 catches against Windsor, Cyril Adjeitey with seven and Matthew Bolduc with a pair of receiving touchdowns will be a pretty good litmus test for that unit.

“Brad presents a challenge in that it is pass then he pulls the ball down and takes off with it,” said Mustangs’ coach Greg Marshall. “He’s as complete a package as I’ve seen in university football. He throws well and runs well. You can’t just contain him so he doesn’t run because if you give him time to throw, he will throw. You can’t commit too many defenders on him because you don’t want to get caught in too many man coverage because his receivers are too good.”

The Gee Gees put up more than 500 yards of offence against the Lancers but only scored 23 points. They were hurt by missed opportunities and penalties.

“We had a lot of positives on offence but didn’t finish,” said Gee Gees coach J.P. Asselin. “We had some big play opportunities that didn’t happen. We had three touchdown plays we didn’t connect and that hurts.”

Asselin said despite Sinopoli’s good numbers he needs to get better as well.

“Talking with Brad after the game, we felt that Brad had a good game but like a lot of players on our offence, didn’t play to his full potential. We are looking for improvement on his part over the next couple of weeks.”

The Gee Gees have an experienced front seven on defence but like the Mustangs, they will have to worry about the running of Marshall.

Both quarterbacks have the green light to go when they can. In Sinopoli’s case Asselin would prefer he throw the ball first.

“He can run on almost every pass play. We aren’t holding him back,” Asselin said. “But at the same time, he needs to understand that he needs to be a quarterback.”

These two teams are developing a tradition of playing early in the season. The Mustangs have won four in a row but three of them have been close, nailbiting jobs.

This year promises to be no different.

Box of Fun Info

Western Mustangs at Ottawa Gee Gees

Monday in Ottawa, 1 p.m.

ON TV: Rogers TV, Cable 13 (in London market) tape delay at 7:30 p.m.

ON RADIO: CJBK Radio AM 1290 live; CHRW Radio, 94.9 FM, live

LIVE BLOG: www.westernmustangs.ca


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