Week 3 notes: Sherbooke upset; Pyear's peer; Snakebitten 'Stangs and a troublesome 10-spot

Random observations from a weekend of CIS ball.


Old school:
Bishop's, which pulled a 33-26 upset over Sherbrooke in rainy Lennoxville, always seemed to be a good bad-weather team back in the day. Coulter Field in the '80s and early '90s was the original Swamp when it rained. Not sure if that's still the case, but it was wet and cold Saturday and that's usually bad news for teams such as the Vert et Or that seem to run a precision passing attack.

No one was expecting this from coach Leroy Blugh's Gaiters. Tailback Jamall Lee proved to be a mudder... he chewed up a conference-record 296 yards (of the Gaiters' total of 379), including a 75- and 70-yard TD runs through the muck. Between Lee and Calgary's Anthony Woodson, for a change it's two runners from outside Ontario who should be generating a lot of Hec Crighton hype. Will anyone in Ontario notice?

(A little background: It's a personal goal to be the "invisible hand" that helps guide the Hec to a player outside the OUA. Nothing against any of the recent recipients, but seven years in a row is a bit much.)

The rain tapered off in the second half, allowing J.P. Shoiry and the Vert et Or (0-2) to make a game of it after falling behind 26-2. A real contributor to falling that far behind was an ineligible-receiver penalty that wiped out a Sherbrooke touchdown and led to a missed chip shot field goal. The Vert et Or got within seven before Steve Turner ripped off his second kick-return TD in two weeks to put the game away.

Acadia disadvantage: Kick returner-cornerback Najja Coley went down with a shoulder injury during the Axemen's 24-18 loss to rival St. FX.

Two weeks in, it's still tough to get a read on the Atlantic conference. Saturday was a stirring win for the X-Men, with James Green slugging it out for 135 yards in the rain and wind without a run over 20, but it was a bad-weather game, unpredictable. Since everyone in that conference plays a home-and-home, Acadia needs only to win the return game by seven points to have a tiebreaker edge over X.


Boyle-ing point:
Queen's is 3-0 after coming back in the second half (again) to edge McMaster 24-20. A concern for the Gaels is that right tackle Colin Boyle (a grad of St. Peter's High in Ottawa) went out with a leg injury (if he returned, someone pass the word along).

Attack of the clone: The play fakes, the touch passes thrown on the run; save for the fact he's a lot bigger, Laurier's Ian Noble is looking a lot like like his offensive co-ordinator, Ryan Pyear, did as the Golden Hawks QB two seasons ago.

Stats-wise (other than the touchdown passes), Noble compares pretty favourably to Pyear at the same point in 2005:
Noble, '07: 641 yards passing (10.7 average gain), 46 completions in 60 attempts (73.3% completion percentage), 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
Pyear, '05:
627 yards (8.8 average again), 47 of 71 (66.2%), 8 TD, 1 INT
Noble threw just four passes (all completions) in last night's scrimmage vs. the U of T Varsity Blues, so it's not like he's padded his stats against a cupcake team.

Western 0-for-3: Laugh now, since the Mustangs could still go 5-3. It has three teams very few people are sold on -- Guelph, Windsor and Waterloo -- left on the dance card along with York and U of T.

On Saturday, Ottawa escaped 35-30 by virtue of seven Western turnovers, four Ara Tchobanian field goals and 340-lb. lineman Frank Spera recovering a fumble in the end zone when the Mustangs' Cory Watson coughed up the ball on a missed field goal return. Western has outgained its opponents by 288 yards across the first three games, so that tells you how snakebitten Greg Marshall's team has been.

Waterloo's big 3-0: There are people in the Ottawa region who will be amazed a team with Joe Paopao on staff is 3-0, but the Warriors are just that after coming from 23 points down to edge Windsor 26-23 (the Lancers played without QB Dan Lumley, the heart of their team). Dennis McPhee's coaching staff probably deserves credit for keeping a group that's tasted a lot of losing upbeat and able to rally.

Thing is, beating U of T, York and Lumley-less Windsor doesn't convince many doubters. The Warriors will be ranked in the Top 10 since it's impossible to snub a 3-0 team in favour of a 1-2 club (or even UBC, who's 2-1). Ask this, though: Who would stand a better chance vs. the likes of Ottawa or Concordia -- Waterloo, who won by three over York, or Calgary, who's led in the fourth quarter vs. Saskatchewan and Manitoba?

Windsor (1-2) should probably still be favoured at home vs. Queen's on Saturday night. Something about the Tricolour usually fires up the Lancers, who have won the past three meetings by a total of nine points.

Ugly injury: The Toronto Star has a report on York QB Nic Martin suffering a dislocated ankle. Guelph rolled 47-7 heading into a must-win game vs. Western next week.


Tasting canvas:
Two weeks in a row the Calgary Dinos (1-2) have led a top team in the fourth quarter; penalty-plagued Manitoba pulled out a 35-28 win in Winnipeg. The Dinos have gone to a bit of an option offence -- which hasn't been seen much in the CIS since Tuffy Knight was at Waterloo -- in an effort to get the ball on the perimeter. It led to QB Jordan Flagel tearing off two long touchdown runs vs. the Bisons, but really,

Nixon kicks around Clan: Don't read too much into Bret Thompson getting pulled in Saskatchewan's 34-6 win over Simon Fraser. It happens. Laurence Nixon did well coming in to play the second half.

Tasting canvas, part 2: Mark Simon Fraser down to end its 21-game losing streak next week vs. the Alberta Golden Bears. Coach Dave Johnson's team took a 6-3 lead into the half vs. Saskatchewan. Giving up two late touchdowns in a 24-23 loss to UBC could really set the Golden Bears back.

As for UBC, QB Doug Goldsby might be peaks-and-valleys all season, but he helped the Thunderbirds pull it out on Saturday.

Guesstimating the Top 10: The first four stay the same; Laurier and Concordia inch up to Nos. 5 and 6 while Montreal drops to No. 7 after that rain-soaked 9-6 loss to the Stingers that set offensive football back 10 years.

Queen's will have to go up to No. 9, behind Saint Mary's. As for the 10-spot, Waterloo probably gets it, but the media who vote should give a lot of thought to UBC or Calgary, who as noted, are each more capable of hanging in with a Top 5 team.
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1 comment:

  1. I realize Western had to run the gauntlet with Queen's, McMaster and Ottawa the first three weeks, but did anyone expect them to be 0-3 already?