The Mustangs have one final test before they can secure their third consecutive undefeated regular season: a Homecoming matchup against the Gee-Gees.
After an offensive shootout in their last game, Western University is likely in for a defensive showdown with Ottawa University this weekend.
Through seven games, the Gee-Gees have ranked first in fumbles recovered, defensive touchdowns and total tackles. The team also sits third in the country in sacks.
It’s going to be a long day for the Mustangs offence.
Reshaan Davis has been a standout star for the Gee-Gees defensive line this year. The chemistry major currently ranks third in U Sports with six sacks, just 1.5 behind the leader.
The six foot four, 243-pound defensive end will undoubtedly be a difficult test for the Mustangs' offensive line. As a whole, the line has been done a mediocre job protecting the quarterback this season — allowing the 14th fewest sacks in the league.
While Davis has been amazing, perhaps the most impressive part of the Ottawa defence is their teamwork. Despite leading the league in tackles, no Gee-Gees player ranks in the U Sports Top 10 for that statistic. Instead, they have three different players over 30 tackles and another two over 25.
For reference, Alex Salytchev is the only Mustangs player over thirty tackles: only three Western players have secured at least 25 take downs.
On the other side of the ball, the Gee-Gees offence ranks sixth in scoring and seventh in points per game — but 24th in yards per game. Clearly, the offensive group has had favourable field position for a number of their drives.
The formula is obviously working. The Gee-Gees have won two straight and currently sit in a three-way tie for second in the province.
Strong play from their defence has been a big boost to an Ottawa offence that lost their leader at the start of the season, quarterback Sawyer Buettner.
The Gee-Gees lost Buettner in the first game of the year against McMaster University. His replacement, Ben Maracle, has not been as strong in the seven regular season games.
This season, the red-shirt freshman has thrown for 1029 yards on 49.1 per cent passing. With 12 interceptions to just 8 touchdowns, the Tyendinaga native ranks 30th, out of a possible 33 U Sports qualifiers, in pass efficiency.
Making matters worse, the passing game has been relatively one dimensional. Carter Matheson, Ottawa’s number one receiving option, has hauled down 34 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns. The fifth-year’s totals are nearly double that of Kalem Beaver, the Gee-Gee’s second option in the passing game.
In similar situations in the past, the Mustangs have focused on taking away the top receiver. Western will likely look to do the same to Matheson on Saturday.
Ottawa has been fairly productive on the ground this year. Jordan Burgher, Ottawa’s number one ground option, has been very good this year. The fourth-year player has punched in five touchdowns and racked up 484 yards on 84 attempts.
Maracle is the team’s second leading rusher, netting 134 yards on 20 attempts.
Coming off a bye, the Mustangs will be rested and healthier than they were in their last game. That rest will be a nice boost in what projects to be a hard hitting, defensive showdown on Saturday.
The Homecoming matchup kicks off at 1 p.m. at TD Stadium.