In 50 words or less: The Carabins had enough with the bad-boy image they had, and the results under Marc Santerre. Danny Maciocia is probably the biggest name in CIS coaching and has big expectations.
1) HOW GOOD can Rotrand Sene be this season as Montreal goes from a run-first offence to a more vertical one?
2) WHO will step up in a young receiving corps as Maciocia transitions to his notorious passing attack?
3) CAN the Carabins' new image take them farther then they have ever been before?
2010 recap: 6-3, 2nd regular season, L 33-26 vs Sherbrooke in RSEQ Semifinal
Montreal had a pretty good season considering that they were bringing in a new quarterback and having to replace the most key players of anyone in the conference. They had a few good results - playing Laval very close, and good performances early in the season against Concordia and St. FX. However, they lost a key game to Concordia down the stretch, and their loss to Sherbrooke in the playoffs was not enough. Perhaps more importantly it wasn't the result, but how they got there.
Departures: WR Youssy Pierre, WR Djems Kouame, OL Sebastien Tache, WR Frank Bruno, DL Gregory Alexandre, DB Jean-Gardy Clermont, DB Tony Rayapin, LB Christian Houle, DB Julien Hamel
Arrivals: QB Yan Cyr, DB Anthony Coady, LB William St-Laurent, DL Jean-Samuel Blanc, DB Mike Dubuisson
Keep an eye on: The quarterback battle. Maciocia has said that there will be a competition for the starting spot and the ideal thing for Maciocia would be a vertical passing game. While Sene is very talented, look for the battle between Cyr - who is coming from the NAIA and incumbent Alexandre Nadeau-Piuze will have higher expectations.
Coach & coordinators: Danny Maciocia as we mentioned will be entering his first year in CIS football and first as head coach of the Carabins. His main job is to improve the image of the program both on the field and off of it. It will be interesting to see how he returns to coaching at the amateur level.
The offensive coordinator is Marco Iadeluca who was the offensive coordinator at Laval last season and before that worked with Maciocia with the St. Leonard Cougars. His experience at the CIS level will no doubt help Maciocia get acclimated to the teams and different nuances the game presents.
Denis Touchette returns as defensive coordinator, the position he has held since 2006.
Off-the-field factors: Image. The Carabins under Marc Santerre were like the bad-boys of the CIS. They were penalized and didn't get along with most teams they played against. They had a few heated moments and when I compared them to the University of Miami of the 80's to someone else who follows CIS football, he agreed with me. The university doesn't like to have that kind of image. It won't change overnight, but look for the penalties to go way down.
From last season's preview: "After losing the most key players in the Q, will the Carabins be able to keep up? Helped by an easy schedule, the answer lies within the experienced coaching staff needed to help the younger ones “step up”, the much needed discipline, and a minimal injury year."
Allez les Bleus did last year's preview (and was a great help in this year's) and they were right. The Carabins had questions, but they answered them and had a successful season.
2011 outlook: The Carabins have some questions at wide receiver and have some depth issues beyond the starters on the offensive line but their defence looks to remain solid and I wouldn't expect much change from where they were a season ago.
Swing games: Not really any. I would expect them to do very well against the rest of the conference. The big thing are the games against Laval. If the Carabins want to be taken seriously nationally, their two games against Laval are probably the most important and the ones that most recruits will be looking at when deciding between the two schools.
Stock up or stock down: Up, for now. There is a lot of optimism around the Carabins with the new coaching staff. If they can keep that momentum going, they should have a great recruiting class and the rest is history. If, for whatever reason the transition is not as smooth as I expect it, the stock could come crashing down.