Life should get significantly more interesting for the Saint Mary’s Huskies’ receiving corps this season.
The Huskies, who all but abandoned their passing game last fall while leading the country in rushing by an astounding margin, are aiming for a more balanced attack this season with Jack Creighton calling the shots from start to finish.
Four different starting quarterbacks — including run-first Nathan Marsman as the primary option — led to instability last season and ultimately produced the country’s second-worst passing attack, averaging barely 140 yards per game.
“We didn’t know what was going on with the quarterback situation,” said top returning receiver Carl Hardwick. “With Jack coming in from the start, he’s not a running quarterback, he’s a pocket passer. That helps us as receivers.”
Hardwick said it has been “night and day” since Creighton took over. The Huskies averaged 211 yards in Creighton’s final three games and the expectation is there are better days ahead. Creighton not only has big-game experience now, he has also improved his conditioning and arm strength.
Hardwick, a two-time Atlantic University Sport all-star, is going to be a key to the aerial attack, as is multi-purpose slot-back Jahmeek Murray, last year’s AUS rookie of the year.
Fifth-year veteran Joe Doherty and returnee Aaron Racioppa are among the others who will be factors.
But the receiving corps has no illusions of grandeur. The backfield averaged nearly 280 yards per game last season — almost 70 yards more than any other team in the nation — and has received a boost from highly-touted rookie Tristan Jones.
“We know that in order to win, we have to get those guys the ball,” Hardwick said. “We’re still a run-first team.”
It will all be put to the test when they open the AUS season on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men. The Huskies are gunning for their fifth trip to the Vanier Cup in nine years and their first since 2007.
“We’re looking good,” Hardwick said. “I don’t want to put expectations too high, but this team reminds me of 2007. Team unity, everything like that, it’s looking great.”
- PHOTOS: Blues dump Bruins to win Stanley Cup after agonizing 52-year wait40 Pictures
- PHOTOS: This Pakistani waiter looks just like Peter Dinklage8 Pictures