The rise of SMU

I did my best to sort through the CIS football playoff picture in the paper today, something that was surprisingly easy even though there's still a week to play in most of the country.

One situation that looks to be pretty well a lock to play out as planned is in the Atlantic, where a contender has emerged. I'd heard good things about the Saint Mary's Huskies going into the year, but even then didn't expect this much from them.

The AUS has essentially been no contest this season.

Head coach Steve Sumarah has really done a nice job, and I caught up with him a week ago after a narrow loss to Laval. He said the feeling among the coaching staff was that they were a strong team last season, and that that's something that's only starting to show this year.

"I think we had the pieces in place, but last year was a very big transition year," Sumarah said. "You know, [former head coach] Blake [Nill] going out to Calgary, I sort of took over — we have a new defensive coordinator, a new special teams coordinator, we got our offensive line coach back from a few years [ago]. There was a big transition here, and we felt like we were on the verge of something pretty good. It just basically took a year to get the guys to believe in that as well.

"We have a very tight team right now and I think they’re very positive about what went on yesterday."

I also asked him about quarterback Erik Glavic, whose name is being mentioned in the Hec Crighton talk quite a bit these days.

"I think for Erik, he’s always been very much a leader and very much a winner," Sumarah said. "He won in high school, he came out in basketball and played on our team and I thought he was very inspirational leader on that team. He sort of carried that team on energy and enthusiasm.

"This year, he knew he was going to be the main guy and he jumped at that chance."

I asked him if Glavic had surprised him with how well he'd taken over the pivot's role. "A little bit. I knew his competitive fire was there, for sure. I was surprised at how quickly he has developed as a true quarterback as well. He has the athleticism, he runs the ball well... he also showed a lot of poise in the pocket and made some good decisions.

"He’s a pretty humble guy. He’s a very competitive guy, but he just wants to win."

Steve's a hometown guy, having grown up in Halifax and going on to play as a receiver at St. FX and Saint Mary's. He was an assistant for the X-Men for three or four years and then was the offensive co-ordinator under Nill with the Huskies for a solid (and successful) decade before Calgary came calling.

As with a lot of CIS coaches, he's always enjoyable to talk to, and I'm sure I'll be catching up with him quite a bit over the coming weeks.

A few more brief thoughts on the playoff picture outside of Ontario:

Manitoba's guaranteed top spot in CanWest, which means home field right through to the Mitchell Bowl (if they make it that far). The Bisons are going to host the winner of this weekend's UBC @ Calgary game and should be a reasonably safe bet to make it to the Hardy Cup game.

They'd host the winner of Saskatchewan-Regina, which should be a barn burner in the semis.

Can anyone beat Laval?

The second-best team in the conference is supposed to be Bishop's (5-2) but they were annihilated 50-15 by Glen Constantin's crew on the weekend.

It seems like it's going to be up to Saint Mary's in the Uteck Bowl to give them a run. At least SMU would get home field advantage there (and they will need it).

Laval will face either Montreal or Sherbrooke in the first round of the playoffs; Bishop's draws Concordia in the other semi.
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1 comment:

  1. Yeah.. that's right.. SMU 24.. Laval 2!! GO HUSKIES!!!!