CIS Countdown '09: Windsor Lancers

Burning questions:

CAN Windsor get to 4-4 and sneak into the playoffs? A loss to McMaster in the final week ended their 2008 season.

WILL 10 returning starters help the defence improve from eighth in the conference?

HOW impossible is it to resist joking about how it's nice to see a player transfer from Ottawa to another OUA team? Welcome to Windsor, Marcel Samuel!

2008 recap and record — (3-5). The torch passed from record-setting runner, Daryl Stephenson, who became the first CIS player to rush for 5,000 yards in a career, to QB Sam Malian, a southwest Ontario native who passed 1,500 yards and 10 TDs vs. only five interceptions as a true freshman. Windsor's high point came when it upset Ottawa 40-38 (after building a 37-3 first-half lead), but despite that equivalent of found money, it couldn't find a fourth win to get into the playoffs. A faculty strike was a distraction during the season.

Setting up '09
— Defensive end Chad Cossette, inside linebacker John Celestino and d-back Matt Bucknor helm a defensive core which returns mostly intact from 2008. Windsor, needless to say, needs to get that 443 yards/game allowed figure down to the 400 range to have a reasonable shot at contending.

On offence, Malian will have a new tailback and some new receivers, since Glenn "Big Play" MacKay, the only Lancer to rank among the OUA's top 25 in yards receiving last season, has also graduated along with the D-Train, Stephenson. Samuel, the Ottawa transfer, and 6-foot-4 sophomore Jordan Brescacin (20.2 yards per catch last season, but he only caught 13) could be preferred targets. All-OUA tackle Matt Morencie, the coach's son, and Sam Platz lead an offensive line which will have to adapt to not having No. 24 running behind them. Transfers Kamar Anglin and Jamal Darius were each recruited to compete for Stephenson's spot.

Windsor's swing games are likely the Waterloo and Mac contests.

Returning starters — 7 offence, 10 defence

Stepping out — RB Daryl Stephenson, WR Glenn MacKay, OL Kyle Sleightholm

Stepping up — QB Sam Malian, WRs Jordan Brescacin and Marcel Samuel, OLs Matt Morencie and Sam Platz; DL Chad Cossette, LB John Celestino, DB Matt Bucknor

Breakout performers — LB Chris Arquette played in the East-West Bowl last season and is part of a group which has to get better at stopping the run, no two ways about it. Darius, the new running back who spent last season at Adrian College, once helped his high school team reach the Metro Bowl final four in only its third season of play, so he has that goin' for him, which is nice.

Future reference — Incoming defensive back Louis Polyzois is intriguing for the fact he's also been recruited by Windsor's traditionally strong track and field team. It can be presumed he's fast.

Coach & coordinators — Mike Morencie (12th season), Brett Thomson, offence; Morencie, defence; Scott Fawcett, special teams.

Enrolment — 12,291

Stadium/atmosphere — Windsor's stadium is a nice layout and a world-class facility; the Canadian Olympic track and field trials were held in 2008. There isn't a bad seat in the house. The program

Off-the-field factors — It is a fair question to wonder how the downturn in Ontario and Michigan's auto sector will affect varsity sports at Windsor, although all universities in the province are affected in some way. The number of EI recipients in the region has doubled in the past year. Varsity athletes are ultimately a frill and UW has already cut some varsity sports. The basketball programs, which are less cost-intensive (30 players for the men's and women's teams instead of 80, do the math) remain the feel-good story of the Lancers' team sports.

Alumni in CFL — Blue Bombers SB Arjei Franklin and RB Daryl Stephenson, Eskimos OL Dan Comiskey

From last season's preview — "This edition of the Lancers probably isn't going to fool many teams and it might have trouble outmuscling them."

Stock up or stock down — Down. That 6-2 season in 2006 seems like a mirage.

Sunday, Sept. 6 at York, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 12 vs. U of T, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 19 vs. Western, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 26 at Waterloo, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 3 vs. Queen's, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 10 at Laurier, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17 vs. McMaster, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24 at Ottawa, 1 p.m.
(Bye: Guelph)
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