Week 5 notes: Lee's on fire; Stephenson sets OUA record; U of T comes close; Guelph's on the move

Random observations from a week of CIS ball...


Crank up a Hec Crighton Trophy campaign for Bishop's Jamall Lee. Lee chewed up 250 yards -- his second "quarter century" game in three weeks -- in the Gaiters' 44-12 blowout of Mount Allison, and he could easily replicate that against a couple Downy-soft run defences over the next two weeks, McGill (6.1 yards per carry allowed) and Acadia (5.6 a pop). I'm joking (partly) about the quality of those two defences, but keep this in mind: Even by a conservative prediction, Lee will end up around 1,200 yards for the season, barring injury.

Know how many of the 18 runners to go over 1,200 played in the Quebec conference? Zero.

Lee is a little analogous to Darren analog to Arkansas' Darren McFadden in the NCAA -- an awesome talent on a team that's off the beaten path. With 79 rushes for 753 yards, he is first in the CIS in yards per carry (9.5) and second in total yardage behind Laurier's Ryan Lynch, who has had 38 more carries and one more game. He could go over 1,000 for the season next week against McGill's merry band of arm tacklers, maybe even by halftime.

Montreal Alouettes president and former Gaiters star Larry Smith's conference record of 1,053 yards, which has stood for 38 years, could also fall in the next couple weeks.

The Gaiters also seem headed for the winning season that will get Lee enough attention to nudge out Laval's Benoît Groulx for the Quebec conference Hec nomination. Throw in the residual anti-Rouge et Or sentiment and he's a shoo-in.

Is Saint Mary's, 40-12 winners over Acadia (including a 33-0 onslaught in the second half), going to be able to give Laval a game in a couple weeks?

The Rouge et Or beat St. FX 51-8. No, never saw that coming. Laval's Pierre-Luc Yao ran for three TDs to set the Quebec conference career record with 32, if you're into that kind of thing.

It's probably fair to say Montreal is in a freefall after a second loss to Concordia, 21-15 in a penalty-filled game. This ended being a battle of the backups and the Stingers' Liam Mahoney was good enough to secure Concordia's third win.


Anyone know off-hand when was the last time Guelph hosted a playoff game? Second-year coach Kyle Walters' team, now 3-2, has the inside track on fourth place in the OUA -- pretty heady stuff for a program that once missed the playoffs when in a conference where eight out of 10 teams were let into the dance (and you know who a couple of those Ugly Bettys are).

Walters played for the '96 Yates Cup-winning Gryphons, but if memory serves, they beat Western and Waterloo on the road to win the conference. After beating Waterloo, they returned to borrow the Warriors' borrowed stadium (Laurier folks never get tired of pointing this out) for the Churchill Bowl, for reasons that escaped me then since Queen's was in another conference then and it was frosh year, which means we were inebriated on Kokanee and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Heartbreak all over: York 21, Toronto 20 in the Red & Blue Bowl. It might be the beer talking, but teams who haven't won since 2001 sometimes find ways to lose. Seriously, this only happens to the Varsity Blues: They trade a safety for field position and end up losing by one point. That was probably the best percentage play, but the Blues didn't come out ahead in the exhange, since York got the next score (a field goal). That was as vital as what happened in the endgame.

A personal vow not to make sport of Tim Micallef's idiosyncratic vocabulary all season didn't make it through September: The Score's play-by-play man made a reference to a "rocket surgeon." What's that, someone who does a triple bypass in 30 minutes or it's free? The Score is going to get angry e-mails from brain scientists on Monday.

Maybe a "rocket surgeon" is what McMaster needs. The no longer mighty Marauders were thumped 60-7 by Ottawa at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Just imagine how bad it could have been if they were playing the Ticats. Coach Stefan Ptaszek is going to turn around the Marauders, but not all at once.

It's got to be some kind of record to be part of an 111-point swing against one team: In 2004 Ottawa QB Josh Sacobie, linebackers Joe Barnes and Mike Sheridan and kicker Ara Tchobanian and possibly a couple guys who don't get personal stats, were part of a Gee-Gees team that lost by 58 points to McMaster; three years later, they won by 53. Mac linebackers Jason Arakgi and Simon Binder, along with wideout Rob Serviss, also played in both games. That's worth bringing up just to remind Mac fans that a team can go from glory to shame and back again in a few short years.

What happened to Queen's in a 23-4 debacle vs. Laurier? The Golden Gaels have pretty much been hit-and-miss on offence since the start of last season and it caught up to them against a top team. Queen's QB Dan Brannagan was playing in 3/4 time and the game was in 4/4. The Gaels showed they can run the ball and play defence with any OUA team, but no one was thinking that as the clock wound down in Kingston.

Laurier's fifth-year DB Brent Hickey is our pick for CIS defensive player of the week. (Yes, his secondary mate Jahmeeks Beckford has two interceptions, but we try not to look for the obvious.) Hickey helped cause a fumble by Queen's Mike Giffin after a 28-yard run and also stripped the ball from Gaels slotback Devan Sheahan after a 54-yard reception, negating the Gaels' two longest plays (on, offence anyways) of the afternoon. The stats sheet didn't credit him with one forced fumble, let alone two, but he seemed to be the guy in the game I was watching.

Full credit to Laurier, which scored on three straight drives after centre Andrew Dietrich limped off with an injury that left him on crutches. Note to the Golden Hawks, however: The option play is best left in the museum with the rest of the dinosaurs.

You heard it here first: When all's said and done for the regular season, it will be Western-Queen's in the OUA quarter-final. The Mustangs, with a second-half schedule that softer than a fifth-year senior's -- York, Toronto, Waterloo -- can get to 4-4 into the final playoff spot. All bets are off if the Gaels pull an upset over Ottawa or if Guelph runs the table.

Something else to keep in mind: Greg Marshall will be coaching against two of his former Tiger-Cats assistants, Dennis McPhee and Joe Paopao, when Western meets Waterloo in the final week of the regular season on Oct. 20. Who but the dedicated Western haters would have thought that would be for a playoff spot?

How many times can you watch Windsor keep calling No. 24's number since their playbook is so limited? Windsor's Daryl Stephenson became the OUA's leading career rusher and did it in his hometown, London, but it came in a 49-0 Western walkover. Talk about bittersweet. Windsor coach Mike Morencie's rep improved greatly when the Lancers went 6-2 last season; now it looks like the Lancers are headed for a complete reversal, 2-6. Keeping it simple worked well for the Lancers last season. It might be time to adapt.

Since its cameo appearance in the Top 10 two weeks ago, Waterloo has been outscored 76-11 and hasn't scored a touchdown. Just throwin' that out there.


The most competitive conference in the country could end up with a sub-.500 playoff team. Jotting down the W's and L's, there's a scenario where Calgary (1-3 after a 17-9 loss to Alberta) could lose their next two, then beat Simon Fraser and UBC to end up 3-5 and sneak into fourth place.

The Alberta Golden Bears (2-3) have Manitoba, Regina on the road and Saskatchewan left ont the schedule, so a 4-4 record won't come easily. The Golden Bears have at least improved their passing game from bad last season to half-decent. The Bears averaged just 5.8 yards per pass last season and are up to 8.2, while cutting down on the drive-stoppers, sacks and interceptions.

Who, or what is Rhys Coppens? The U of A rookie defensive back, who won't even turn 18 until he's writing his end-of-semester exams, has already accounted for six takeaways in five games. Put him down for the Peter Gorman Trophy (rookie of the year).

Give Simon Fraser some style points. An onside kick to start the second half against Regina? They deserve to win soon for that kind of moxie.

The Saskatchewan Huskies' bye week is well-timed. The Green Dogs struggled past UBC 19-16, but both of their touchdown drives started in T-Birds territory after the defence came up with turnovers (one a botched option pitch from a rookie QB in his first start to a backup running back on the first play of the second half) and they averaged an un-Huskie-like 3.7 yards per carry. Tailback Tyler O'Gorman is expected back for the Calgary game on Oct. 13. That should help bring the Huskies out of their funk.

(Photo of Jamall Lee courtesy John Edwards, Bishop's sports information.)
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  1. Who, or what is Rhys Coppens? The U of A rookie defensive back, who won't even turn 18 until he's writing his end-of-semester exams, has already accounted for six takeaways in five games. Put him down for the Peter Gorman Trophy (rookie of the year).

    Don't forget his pal, Hugh O'Neill, who is a even younger (by a month) and is close to the top in several kicking/punting categories. These two ran amok at the Football Canada Cup as well.

  2. Adam Schefter5/12/2010 3:33 am

    Don't forget his other pal, Dan Youngs, who is slightly older and equally as handsome. Alongside Rhys and Jacques Coppens, Youngs was a key component in the T-Dawgs secondary that shutdown offences for over 4 years in Edmonton. He is currently in contract talks with the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

    You're missed every day buddy...

    R.I.P. RC