Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hints, allegations and things left unsaid from today's 10 football games:
  • Laval's Sébastian Lévesque outrushed Sherby's Pascal Fils 200-38 in the No. 1 Rouge et Or's 22-5 win at Sherbrooke. Which one is the QUFL's short-lister for the Hec Crighton again?

  • Not a bad day to be a Kingstonian playing against Queen's: Laurier's 25-13 win over the Golden Gaels turned on Scott McCahill returning an interception 110 yards for a TD, while QB Evan Pawliuk passed 30 times for 273 yards.

    Calgary should scoot up to No. 2 ahead of Queen's (and you may argue for Saskatchewan in the 3-hole) after piling up 47 points and 719 yards (470 passing by Erik Glavic) vs. Regina.

  • The kooky QUFL has four teams tied for third at 3-4, thanks to Bishop's 21-16 upset of No. 4 Montréal. Get out your "Conn man" since the margin of victory came from a fake-field-goal TD pass from holder Olivier Mongeau to the kicker, Trevor Conn.

  • Western's Michael Faulds finished with CIS records for passing yards in a season (3,033) and career (10,814) after putting up 550 vs. Toronto; see below. The Mustangs, though, had starting running backs Nathan Riva and Da'shawn Thomas get nicked-up during the game and lost a second down lineman for the season, losing end Scott Fournier to a torn biceps.

  • You already know Guelph-Western and McMaster-Ottawa are the OUA quarter-final matchups for Oct. 31. Both road teams should have a reasonable chance. Laurier got the bye based on record vs. common opponents.

  • The OUA could have five ranked teams come next week. There are just so many 3-4 teams in Canada West and the QUFL, plus St. FX (5-2) has been crunched by a combined 55 points the past two weeks.
QUFL

Concordia 30, McGill 25 –
Almost a rout, almost close: Stingers QB Robert MacKay's 494-yard passing day almost went for naught for the Stingers (3-4) since McGill scored three TDs in a row after falling behind 30-2.

Kyle Smith and Nathan Taylor each had big interceptions during Concordia's big first half and the McGill's Andrew Hamilton (four rushes for 11 yards) was rendered a non-factor, which might illustrate how the Redmen are still getting there vs. the Q's big boys, even those who started 0-4.

McGill likely ends up the odd team out since its final game is vs. Laval. Jonathan Collin has had a terrific rookie season and drove McGill to within 15 yards of a tying TD in the final minutes, before the Stingers held.

Concordia is at Bishop's next Saturday. There are all sorts of scenarios where three teams could be 4-4 and tied for second place.

Bishop's 21, No. 4 Montréal 16 – The Gaiters gave themselves a chance at the playoffs thanks to two big special teams plays, Conn's trick-play TD and a blocked punt that set up its third touchdown. Knocking Carabins QB Marc-Olivier Brouillette out of the game likely didn't hurt the Gaiters, since his backup tossed a fourth-quarter interception and threw wildly on a third-down pass late in the game. Jermaine Gabriel had that red-zone pick for the Gaiters.

Montréal, for the second week in a row, dug itself a huge hole (21-3 at halftime, and considering Bishop's missed a 37-yard field goal and a convert, it might have been worse). It's a hard team to figure. The Carabins had opportunities galore in the fourth quarter, starting possessions at the Gaiters' 23- and 43-yard line after a big Frank Bruno punt return and an apparent botched punt where the punter had to make a desperate run. They couldn't convert either chance into a TD. Good teams find a way in those situations.

Rotrand Sené was his usual bad self (21 rushes, 136 yards) for the Carabins.

No. 1 Laval 22, Sherbrooke 5 – It sounds like a meh game since there were four conceded safeties. Benoit Groulx was efficient, passing 25 times for 227 yards, while Lévesque was effective and the defence had big days from Dominique Noël and Samaël Lavaud. There's more concern with how Laval's rivals are playing than how Laval is playing.

Canada West

No. 3 Calgary 47, Regina 29 –
For the last time, Canadian football is not a power running game, unless it's really rainy and windy.

The Regina Leader-Post's game preview led off with how the Rams would have their hands full stopping Calgary tailback Matt Walter. Walter was held to 57 yards (202 less than he got in the first matchup) and the Dinos gained more than 700, with Erik Glavic putting up some crazy numbers (25-of-34 for 470 yards, plus 58 rushing) and Anthony Parker totalling more than 200 yards from scrimmage. The latter two are probably Calgary's Hec candidates.

Glavic's stats are simply sick, but you know, it has been almost three seasons since anyone from the OUA won.

Calgary (6-1) has been pretty creative with getting receivers involved as rushers; Parker had a team-high 79 on the ground and Nathan Coehoorn (102 receiving yards) also had a 19-yard run to set up a TD. The big question is whether that offence could produce at Saskatchewan's Griffiths Stadium in the playoffs, since the Dinos are headed there unless Regina springs an upset next week.

OUA

Laurier 25, No. 2 Queen's 13 –
The result was reminiscent of Queen's win last season over Western where the 43-16 final flattered Queen's.

That game turned when Alex Daprato returned a goal-line interception 96 yards and the Golden Gaels blew it open with two quick touchdowns. This one had a 14-point swing when Scott McCahill took an interception back 110 yards, turning a potential 11-11 tie into an 18-4 lead. Laurier was not going to give that back with the way its defence played, with safety Courtney Stephen (who might one of the OUA's best defenders, even though he's only second-year), Mitchell Bosch and Giancarlo Ranpanaro having big games.

Queen's spotted its top two tailbacks, Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien, which made a difference every time the Gaels were in a second-and-5 situation. That influenced how it played the game and how much Laurier was able to sell out to stop Brannagan, who ended up 25-for-45 for 289 yards and three interceptions. Another concern Queen's has to address before its Nov. 7 semi-final is that the 6-foot Brannagan had seven passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, making it 11 in two weeks.

Laurier will be Top 10 after its seventh consecutive season with at least a 6-2 regular-season record. Evan Pawliuk has done a lot of growing up since mopping up vs. Western Sept. 12, but he's still very inexperienced. That defence gives it a shot in a semi-final vs. Western.

The Golden Hawks' Mike Montoya won the conference rushing title with 847 yards. The crazy part is between Ottawa's Jordan Wilson-Ross, Western's Nathan Riva, Guelph's Nick Fitzgibbon and McMaster's Joey Nemet-Jordan Kozina platoon, he might have trouble getting an all-star selection.

No. 10 McMaster 32, Guelph 29 – The Gryphons' late comeback ensured both teams complied with the OUA rule their matchups must always be decided by three points or less.

Andrew ran the liveblog and can better figure out what it means that Guelph, which had a four-touchdown day from Nick Fitzgibbon, pared down the final margin after falling behind 29-7. The Gryphons go into the playoffs as 3-5 team – coach Kyle Walters said on the conference call he's "not sure a 3-5 team should be in the playoffs" – and gave up a ton of yards to McMaster. (Kyle Quinlan passed 23 times for 313 yards, while Joey Nemet and Jordan Kozina each had 100-yard games.)

Justin Dunk is such a wild card for Guelph and Western is very thin on the defensive line. At the same time, on second-half performance you'd say Western decides the issue early next week.

No. 6 Western 55, U of T 0 – As noted, Western lost Fournier, who joined linemate Mike Van Praet on the out-for-the-season list. It's a shame, since Fournier was having a terrific season and played his best games vs. Guelph and Queen's. Western only had six D-linemen dressed vs. Queen's, so it was already thin in the front four.

Riva and Da'shawn Thomas also have some bumps and bruises. There is a rule of thumb playing the extra playoff game doesn't hurt a team too much, since three of the last four Yates Cup participants did not have a bye.

No. 8 Ottawa 24, Windsor 9 – Mostly, it was waiting for Brad Sinopoli to do something awesometacular in between calling out what play Windsor was running from the 20th row.

Sinopoli (12-of-26 for 188 yards, 105 rushing) and his receivers had about six clear drops on a typically chilly Eastern Ontario fall day. He did break two long touchdown runs, 30 and 27 yards, where it was clear he was gone as soon he crossed the line of scrimmage. Sinopoli finishes the regular season averaging 11.8 yards per rush; good luck finding out the last time that happened. Ottawa did what it does, play good enough not to mess up its chances for the following week.

Windsor (2-6) gave a honest effort in what should be the final game of Mike Morencie's coaching tenure. Safety Daryl Townsend and cornerback Shea Pierre were tested often and hung in there.

At the same time, there are little elements that show why Windsor needs change. There were the four possessions inside the Ottawa 40 or better thanks to field-position changers from the defence (a Townsend interception and a sack-forced fumble) and special teams (a blocked punt and a 49-yard Townsend kick return), none of which led to touchdowns. They were playing a backup QB, but still, no plays longer than 15 yards? One of the assistant coaches was also wearing his cap backwards on the sideline in the second half. It all looks sloppy.

Another vignette was in the second quarter. Ottawa took over at its own 46 after a Chris Daly interception. Anyone who's seen a little football knows the first play after a turnover is usually prime opportunity to throw a long bomb, since the defence is getting its bearings. Sinopoli runs a little play-action and hits Steven Hughes (five receptions, 121 yards) running straight down the middle of the field for 60 yards, setting up a TD on the next play. You could have seen it coming from Maniwaki.

Waterloo 52, York 3 – The Warriors finish on a winning streak after Matt "Dinger" Socholotiuk accounted for 302 rushing-receiving yards and four touchdowns to cap off a superb rookie season.

A tip of the cap is due Waterloo's Sean Cowie, who was a productive receiver across five seasons but never got a sniff of the playoffs.

AUS

Acadia 28, Mount Allison 11 –
The Mounties' Gary Ross managed 199 all-purpose yards and scored his team's only touchdown. He should be the AUS MVP, or at least get a special award as the player who's done the most with the least talent around him.


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13 comments:

  1. My Top 10 Rankings based on record, teams played, home field advantage, last years success

    1.Laval - One loss in two seasons (without starting QB), defending champs and all games including the VC run through Laval. That makes them the team to beat!

    2.Calgary - Glavic (ex HEC winner) playing fantastic, beat good teams, final 4 teams in 2008 and an experienced coach who knows how to win Vaniers. Glavic and Nill back to Halifax will be a great game (assuming them and SMU win their divisions)

    3.Saskatchewan - Behind Calgary but not by much in a tough CanWest. Don't count them out to upset Calgary. Good HC! Championship game will be a dandy!

    4.Saint Mary's - Winning 6 games in a row with a team that has been playing with backups do to flu and injury, team is loaded with depth. Beating teams like Sherbrooke, McGill and big win over X puts them ahead of any OUA team. Home field for the playoffs!

    5.Western - Faulds is a warrior and a great running game. In the VC in 2008 and always a team that can raise their game come playoff time. Push comes to shove I pick them to win over Queen's.

    6.Queen's - Great QB, but does not have the depth that Western has. 2009 schedule has been easy, not sure they can stop the teams above them on my list. Usually freezes up come playoff time, they need to play big to beat Western.

    7.Montreal - Two losses in a row to teams not ranked but at the end of the day has showed they have the horses to beat Laval.

    8.Sherbrooke - Good record considering they have had maybe the hardest schedule in the CIS. Could be the team to face Laval in the Q final if Montreal does not improve soon!

    9.Ottawa - Not as much pressure to win as in years past and always tough at home. I expect them to beat McMaster next weekend. Could be the dark horse of the OUA?

    10.St.oX - Two bad losses in a row (yes one is against SMU) but still a physical team with talent. They always play tough come playoff time and are not going to go out without a good fight!

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  2. Mtl may have lost their QB Marc-O Brouillette to a 2nd concussion in 1 month. Without him, you can easily kick them out of the Top 10 and no chances in the playoffs. Even next week, they will be an easy prey against Sherbrooke if Brouillette is out for the season.

    Hohly

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  3. Re. Fils as a short-list Hec candidate, I'm not at all sold on this guy, despite the hype Laval .org guys throw his way.

    There are other candidates who deserve serious consideration. For one, Concordia QB Rob Mackay, the pride of Port Dover, ON.

    If he passes for his season average next week against Bishop's (323 yards per game) he'll have more passing yards and TD strikes than the much-more heralded Brannagan. (I believe Brannagan missed a game, but, then again, he had the advantage of playing wretched teams like York, Waterloo and Windsor, an opportunity not afforded Mackay.)

    Stinger WR Cory Watson and teammate Liam Mahoney should also receive consideration; their stats after next week's game will put them well into the CIS top-10. (Mahoney missed a game too.)

    And, unlike Pascal Fils, you'll likely see both Watson and Mahoney in the CFL.

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  4. Some great matchups in the OUA playoffs next week.

    Western/Guelph will go down to another shoot out watching two dynamic offences and two defences wihtout an indentity.

    Ottawa/McMaster has two teams that haven't faced each other this season. Ottawa has improved throughout the season while McMaster seems to decide weekly whether they're going to show up or not. Mac has done some good changes (Quinlan for one) and getting decent performances from rookies but why oh why don't they change their kicker?

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  5. I watched the Gaels-Hawks match on Saturday and a couple of realizations came to me.

    One, the Hawks are VERY athletic at the linebacker and safety positions.

    Two, the Queens running game is poor at best.

    Three, I think the Gaels were coming down after a big win over the Stangs.

    Queens have to find intensity again or it will be another disappointing end to their season. In many ways Brannagan's legacy is up for debate despite all he has done, in the regular season. There will be pressure on Brannagan to excel and he hasn't performed in those types of setting in the past. I can’t wait for the playoffs.

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  6. Ask Western how intense they were. There was nothing at stake for them yesterday, so it didn't take much to realize Queen's wouldn't be in optimum form. It also didn't dress either of its two leading rushers. The running game's not great, but would you make pronouncements on any team's running game based on what it does with a third-string redshirt freshman in there? One would hope not.

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  7. I realize that the leading rushers weren't a big part of the Hawks match-up but the O-line struggled to push the guys they lined up against. Line play is always a great measure of intensity and the Queens O-line didn't make openings so it really wouldn't have matter who they had handling the ball, at least in direct back field hand-offs.

    At the beginning of the game it became apparent that Queens was going to try to run the ball a little more than they usually do; probably to protect Brannagan. However, the line wasn't getting any push and the game was up to Brannagan. Brannagan was off the whole game, with the exception of one or two drives, and the Queens response really looked like last year's semi against Ottawa.

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  8. People will believe what they want to believe. It would be lie to say there isn't concern. Complacency has never been known to be good. People have said all along 4-5 teams are capable of winning the Yates Cup.

    However, in three-down football, it's passing that wins, which can be dicey in late-season bad weather games.

    As for trying to run it more, Queen's ran 21 times yesterday, 20 times vs. Western, 25 times vs. Windsor on Oct. 3. So Saturday was pretty typical for their run-pass distribution, plus they aren't going to see Laurier's defence on Nov. 7. It's not what they do best, but if they can squeeze out 5 yards per carry with Gordon, that's enough to make defences play them honest.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. About the "Q" - One commenter on our blog has noted that depending if Sherby wins or not against us next Saturday, they can either finish 2nd in the Q and host the half final of Dunsmore Cup for the first time of their history... or finish dead last in the Q this year...

    Talk about a win or lose situation...

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  11. Laval
    Calgary
    Saint Marys
    Saskatchewan
    Queens
    Western
    Sherbrooke
    Montreal
    St of X
    Ottawa

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  12. Wasn't a believer of Brannagan until Western game. Before that thought he was second coming of Beau Howes; great stats, arm etc but can win the big one. they coasted in the Laurier game. I think sheahan is finaly getting smarter. Never mind the records they don't win you a Yates. maybe he had a chat with Hargreaves. Look at his teams, not many stats leaders but lots of titles and please the OQ was tough back then too. It's just the s. ont media didn't know how to get past Scarborough. Remeber Q's and Ott. record their last year in OQ and then they kicked ass first yr. in OUA.

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  13. I meant Howes couldn't win the big one.

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