Week 2 notes: Western falls to 0-2

Random observations from a weekend of CIS ball.


We Are (Confused By) Marshall.
The phantom fumbled punt that ultimately sealed McMaster's 22-15 win over Western obscured Greg Marshall's curious coaching early in the game.

It just never ceases to amaze how some coaches won't go for the knockout punch early. Western, who contrived to lose despite Mike Faulds' 426yards passing — three turnovers inside Mac's 20 will do that — had a nine-point lead after the first quarter, but it could have been 17 or 21. The 'Stangs had a short field twice and didn't get a touchdown either time, helping Mac stay in the game.

In the second instance, Marshall tried to pound the ball in by running Randy McAuley up the middle three times, resulting in a turnover on downs at the 1-yard line. Greg Marshall knows 100 times more than I ever will about football, but why not use a little misdirection against Mac's inexperienced secondary, something like the play-action that worked for a 65-yard touchdown just a few minutes earlier? All told, Western got five points from three drives that started in Marauders territory thanks to a big return or an interception, and officiating had nothing to do with that.

There seemed to be a lack of desperation from an 0-1 team (now 0-2 for the first time since the early '90s). That was as much the story as a couple dodgy calls, Mac's Mike Bradwell scorching the Matt Carapella-less secondary for 209 receiving yards and three touchdowns (two through the deep middle that Carapella patrols) and Marauders rookie Jeff Hodge's touchdown-saving strip inside the 5-yard line with 4:10 left.

Carapella's absence might have also been felt in the first half when Western launched a Preposterous Punt, booting it away from Mac's 33-yard line rather than have all-Canadian Derek Schiavone try a field goal. Carapella is normally the team's holder.

Mac coach Stefan Ptaszek is definitely bringing the Laurier offence to the Hammer. In Marshall's day, Mac never threw to the running backs. Adam Archibald had a couple plays where he was a touch off from hitting backs such as Rob Mitchell and Jermaine DeCosta for big gains. Those plays click and Mac would not have had such a slow start.

Noble beginnings. Can Laurier get a passer ready or what? Ian Noble is averaging 10.45 yards per pass after two starts. Dante Luciani, who was one a quarterback, scored three TDs in the Golden Hawks' 48-17 wipeout against Windsor. The Lancers' leaders, QB Dan Lumley and tailback Daryl Stephenson, both went out with injuries during the second half. Stephenson apparently dinged up his hip pretty bad right after the half, when it was still a relatively close contest. The ETA on a running back returning from a hip injury can be tricky to gauge, so keep an eye on that.

Dunk him in praise? Queen's coach Pat Sheahan told the hometown Whig-Standard that Guelph quarterback Justin Dunk "is the closest thing to Chris Flynn that I've seen." Dunk's final total of 225 yards was pretty paltry for 38 attempts, as Queen's scored the last 21 points for a decisive 26-14 victory in Kingston.

Sheahan might have been thinking back to when was part of McGill's coaching staff when the Redmen beat Flynn's Saint Mary's Huskies in an Atlantic Bowl 20 years ago.


Calgary turning the corner?
The Dinos led Saskatchewan in the fourth quarter before falling 27-13, suggesting the Blake Nill makeover is starting to take in Cowtown. The View From The Stands will have something to say about the Huskies winning despite giving up 302 yards (!) on the ground.

Calgary, who got 208 yards from Anthony Woodson, wins this with any kind of passing game. It's too much to ask rookie Scott Flagel to do much more than avoid big mistakes, and he had one of those when Jordy Burrows returned a pick for the clinching touchdown. The Huskies have lost their original starting QB Casey Brown for the season and a top receiver, slotback K.C. Prince, also faces season-ending surgery.


What's French for "long handoff."
Laval's Benoit Groulx was 15-for-16 passing in the Rouge et Or's workmanlike 33-14 win over Sherbrooke.

The Bish is back, a little. Bishop's coach Leroy Blugh, the long-time CFL defensive end, nearly pulled off the biggest win since taking over at his alma mater. The Gaiters' 20-18 loss to No. 6 Concordia looks really promising when you consider they were on the business end of 23-0, 24-0 and 34-4 halftime scores the last three times they played the Stingers.

Bishop's twice had to settled for field-goal tries from inside the 10-yard line, including the missed chip shot that would have tied it up in the final two minutes.

Happy returns for the little schools. Mount A's Gary Ross took a punt 68 yards to the house vs. Acadia, who held on for a 25-17 win over the upstart Mounties. Bishop's had a 108-yard kick-return touchdown from Steve Turner in the near-upset of Concordia.

Passing fancy down east. Acadia quarterback Keith Lockwood, the L.A. Express, was 21-for-30 in his first start (although veteran receiver Matt Carter was a non-factor except around the goal line). Mount A quarterback Kelly Hughes had 351 yards in total offence.

Saint Mary's Erik Glavic was just 11-of-24, but ran for 93 yards and 2 TDs in a 28-22 win over St. Francis Xavier. It was amoral victory for X, which shut out SMU in the second half and might have found a QB: Steve Snyder was 10-of-20 for 190 yards.

They know The Score. The first University Rush broadcast was solid throughout, but it was still funny when Mac's Paolo Faiazza ran for a first down on a busted punt and Tim Micallef exclaimed, "Who would have thought the punter would be contributing in the running game?" Well, the Mac preview at Out of Left Field did point out Faiazza "is a threat to throw the ball or run with it on fakes." Faiazza did get 26 yards on the play, so he's only 30 off the team lead, held by, of all people, Adam Archibald.

Early guesses on the top 10: Saskatchewan stays No. 2 on rep. Laurier and Concordia flip-flop in the 6-7 spots. McMaster gets bumped up to No. 9 with Calgary debuting at No. 10. That's how it would go, not how it should go.

(Mr. Sager is to football analysis as a blind pig is to finding acorns.)
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