The UBC Thunderbirds football team won big against CIS powerhouse Laval in a preseason exhibition match. UBC’s football program, which has struggled in recent years, is now under the command of Blake Nill and armed with the strongest recruiting class in Canada according to Canada Football Chat’s recruitment rankings.
An exhibition game against Quebec City’s Laval University is new to the Thunderbirds. The relationship between the two teams is a product of Nill’s time at the Calgary Dino’s.
The teams had two inter-squad practices before the exhibition match this morning. The game also marked the first time Nill saw his new team play.
“These are the kind of experiences we need to get better,” said Nill before the game. “They’re playing against bigger, faster stronger players. They’re playing against a program with a high reputation, with a formidable reputation. These are things we need to do for us to develop to the point where we can compete amongst the best in the country.”
Nill hoped the experience would teach the team how a hugely success team like Laval runs their program and practices. He saw the trip as an investment and a learning experience, but came away with a big win.
“We want to go out and compete against a quality football program and, you know, just learn from it,” explained Nill “You need to be able to stress yourself.”
But UBC hardly looked stressed beating Laval 352 to 161 in passing yards and over doubling Laval’s first downs. The ‘Birds’ success today could be the first consequence to the changes made to the program in the last year.
The trip was not on UBC Athletic’s bill, according to Nill. “It was a combination of third party and Laval and, you know, funding like that.”
The Thunderbirds play there first league match against Nill’s former team, the Dino’s on September 4 before returning home to play Regina at Thunderbird Stadium in front of a homecoming crowd.