CAN they return to the AUS playoffs?
HOW will having three new starting offensive linemen affect the rebuilding?
HOW many reps is second-year QB Kyle Graves, of Barrie, going to receive? He might end up being Acadia's punter, according to one report.
WHAT is the mathematical probability Acadia's defence has only three interceptions again? Sheer randomness portends an improvement, even with safety Elliott Richardson gone to the CFL.
2008 recap and record — (1-7). Four losses were by a total of 25 points, so it is arguable Acadia was better than its record. Injuries and a killer cross-over schedule (they played Laval and Sherbrooke and lost by a combined 79-3) added up to a lost season, as the defence allowed opponents to average more than six yards per rush and complete an even 60% of their passes. Quarterback Keith Lockwood, one of several Californians whom coach Jeff Cummins has recruited from his home state, was a bright spot, passing for 1,577 yards despite having only one receiver, Kevin Avery, who played in every game. A native Nova Scotian, 5-foot-7 Nick Lauder, emerged as the starting running back and gained 497 yards while averaging 5.0 per clip, no mean feat.
Setting up '09 — Veterans Lockwood and Devon Jones are the primary pass-and-catch combo for an offence which needs to average more than 19.5 points vs. conference opponents (last season's figure). Losing dangerous Matt Carter to the CFL probably makes it harder to put fear into opposing secondaries. Bishop's transfer Taylor Renaud will probably get every chance to nail down a starting spot.
On the ground, Lauder is likely pencilled in as the feature back. Former head coach Dan McNally has switched over to coaching the offensive line. His experience is needed as much as ever, since three-fifths of the line will be new.
Defensively, Acadia allowed 27 points on average vs. AUS teams. There is some experience in the secondary (such as Najja Coley) and some up and comers in the force unit, including linebackers such as Tom Labenski and Ed McNally.
Returning starters — 6 offence, 8 defence
Stepping out — WR Matt Carter, RBs Cale Inglis and Tom Flaxman, OT Adam Rogers, OL Curtis Taylor, C Steve Patrick, DT Jamie Johnson, DB-K James Michener, S Elliot Richardson
Stepping up — QB Keith Lockwood, QB-P Kyle Graves, WR Devon Jones, RB Nick Lauder, T Greg Kinsman, DT Rich Johnson, DE Jake Thomas, LB Tom Labenski, DB Mike Miller, DB-KR Najja Coley
Breakout performers — Along with Renaud, the Axemen have two other transfers, O-linemen Roy Medeiros (St. FX) and Erik Watson (Bishop's). Thomas could also go here. The second-year defensive end was a tournament all-star at the IFAF world junior championship, where Canada earned a silver medal behind you-know-who.
Future reference — Running back Zack Skibin, an Edmonton native, is perhaps Acadia's most ballyhood recruit on offence. Acadia is also trying to build a recruiting pipeline into New Brunswick, where high school and amateur football is growing rapidly. Their five recruits from the province include a promising free safety, Cameron Wade from Moncton.
Coach & coordinators — Head coach Jeff Cummins also serves as defensive coordinator; Josh Lambert returns as offensive coordinator.
Enrolment — 3,894
Stadium/atmosphere — Raymond Field (capacity 3,000), like two of the other three AUS stadiums, has undergone recent renovations, redoing the field and a track (take notes, Queen's administration). Wolfville is a picturesque small town (it's smaller than Napanee) and the
Off-the-field factors — Is it out of line to mention Acadia is kind of an expensive place to go to school, with annual tuition and fees for an out-of-province student nearing $7,500? Even with scholarship money, that has to be a factor for prospective players and their parents, especially from Ontario.
Alumni in CFL — Eskimos OL Adam Rogers, Eskimos S Elliott Richardson, Stampeders G Godfrey Ellis, Tiger-Cats WR Matt Carter
From last season's preview — "St. FX seems to have supplanted Acadia for the time being for No. 2 in the Atlantic University Sport pecking order, although the Axemen could be back in 2009. The tough schedule and the sketchy defence suggest they could be in tough this fall."
Stock up or stock down — Probably more due to rebound in 2010. Last season was a Murphy's Law year.
Schedule (all times Atlantic):
Saturday, Sept. 12 vs. Mount Allison, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 19 vs. Saint Mary's, 7 p.m. (Eastlink)
Saturday, Sept. 26 at Montreal, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 3 at St. FX, 2 p.m. (Eastlink)
Friday, Oct. 9 vs. St. FX, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17 vs. Concordia, 2 p.m. (Eastlink)
Saturday, Oct. 24 at Mount Allison, 2 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30 at Saint Mary's, 7 p.m.
(Cross-overs: visit Montreal, host Concordia)