CIS Countdown 2010: Laval Rouge et Or

In 50 words or less: Honestly? It's Laval. The only question is how many playoff games they'll win.

Burning questions:

WILL Laval play for a Vanier at PEPS? Finishing first in the Q ensures they don't have to leave Quebec City once during the playoffs.

HOW will the offence perform with a new QB, likely Bruno Prud'homme, and a new O-C?

HOW effective will their defence be? Especially against the run. Last year they gained twice as many rush yards per play than they allowed on the ground--mostly because they gave up less than three yards per attempt, but also because of one star rusher who's back this year.

2009 recap: It was all going well until the Mitchell Bowl. You remember the Mitchell Bowl. Unless you were silly enough to spend that afternoon out with friends, and didn't see a snap of it. Before that November afternoon delight, Laval only lost once (at Montreal) and won every other game by three touchdowns except one (at Sherbrooke, but the Vert et Or didn't even score a major). They had just 80.9 penalty yards per game last year; Montreal, as is their wont, were whistled for 138.9 yards per game--an incredible 58 per game more than the Rouge et Or, which is like spotting the best team in the league 10 points before the game even starts.

Another reason to stay in Quebec City:: For all those who say Laval's especially vulnerable when they travel, their season and playoff results over the last three years might agree with you: on average, they win by 24 at PEPS and by 19 everywhere else. That difference of five points is more than your standard home-field advantage, but then again, it doesn't matter whether you win by 19 or by 24, does it?

Departures:: QB Benoit Groulx, OL Louis-David Gagné, OL David Bouchard, DL Jean-Philippe Gilbert, S Samuel Lajoie, S Alex Surprenant.

Arrivals:: DE Arnaud Gascon-Nadon (from Rice University), DE Bruno Lapointe (Buffalo), RB Guillaume Bourassa (Collège Lennoxville Champlain College), RB Pascal Lochard (Cégep Vieux-Montréal), OL Philippe Lavertu (Collège François-Xavier-Garneau).

Keep an eye on: Pascal Lochard, perhaps? A CEGEP standout at Vieux Montréal, and presumably recruited heavily by the Carabins in addition to the Vert et Or, Lochard could step into Sebastian Levesque's cleats, and maybe even fill them capably. Certainly he's someone whose name we'll "hear a lot of in the next few years". Gascon-Nadon is also an interesting addition, as Neate discussed last year; he's performed pretty well at the NCAA level in the past.

Coach & coordinators: Les hommes de Glen Constantin, as they're often called, have gone 80-22 under his watch. He returns for season number 10. Offensive coordinator is Marco Iadeluca (first year); defensive coordinator is Marc Fortier (fourth year). There are seven other coaches, as befits a team with boatloads of money, and there is also speculation surrounding the newly-available Danny Maciocia, originally from Montreal. But despite dining with Constantin and others, Maciocia is not joining Laval (or any university team) this year.

Off-the-field factors: Laval gets another shot at playing in a Vanier Cup at home this year after last year's disappointment. That's a lot of pressure to be under, though, and there are quality opponents to be found both within and outside of Quebec that might get in their way. If Laval makes it that far, the home-field advantage could be critical, but they'll have to stay focused week-to-week rather than looking ahead to the end of November. As Neate wrote last month, though, the Quebec champion gets to host a national semifinal this year. If Laval can make it out of the conference, it's PEPS all the way in.

From last season's preview: "Sebastien Levesque is good. Really, really good." -Jared Book.

Well, 9.3 yards per rush later, Jared's really, really right.

Stock up or stock down: Neutral. The Rouge et Or were good last year and they'll be good this year, especially if the D is up to par. Our readers gave them 78% of the vote in the "who will win the QUFL poll." So that just leaves a bunch of playoff games at PEPS between them and another Vanier Cup.

Schedule: (all times Eastern)
Sun Aug 29 1:00pm vs. York (LOPSIDED EXHIBITION)
Sun Sep 5 2:00pm vs. McGill*
Sat Sep 11 7:00pm at Sherbrooke
Sat Sep 18 1:00pm at Saint Mary's*
Sun Sep 26 1:00pm vs. Sherbrooke
Sun Oct 3 1:00pm vs. Concordia
Sat Oct 9 1:00pm at Montreal*
Sun Oct 17 1:00pm vs. Bishop's
Sat Oct 23 1:00pm at McGill
Sat Oct 30 1:00pm at Concordia
* Televised or webcasted on Radio-Canada

Once again, several hat-tips to the official preview (link goes to PDF, in French) are in order.
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  1. "RB Guillaume Bourassa (Collège Lennoxville)"?

    Please note the CEGEP above is known as CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE.

  2. That's what I thought - I actually looked up the name to be sure - but the other preview (the one I linked in the pdf, page 2) says Lennoxville. I'll change it, thanks.

  3. Don't worry about Laval's defense, it will be as dominant as always. The questions are more with the offense with a new QB and OC. Chances are Laval will run the ball more this year with a terrific group of RBs.

    Among the other arrivals, note the 7 OL (of which Cégep AAA all-stars Hugo Desmarais, Karl Monjoie and Pierre Lavertu you already mentioned, Cégep AA div. 1 all-stars Eric Bellemare, Jérôme Bilodeau and Steeve Vachon), 8 receivers (of which Cégep AAA all-stars Alexandre Lortie, Julian Bailey and Adam Thibault) and 1 LB (Cégep AAA all-star Francis Beaudet). Likely their best recruiting class ever.