As each CIS football team is officially eliminated from playoff contention, we'll reflect on what they did this year and compare their results to our expectations.
First up: Waterloo, eliminated after last week's loss to Laurier.
RPI: 26th (out of 26)
Per-game stats (as of time of elimination)
Points for: 14.8
Points against: 53.8
Passing yards: 276.5
Rushing yards: 86.8
Passing yards against: 276.2
Rushing yards against: 283.2
Looking back at our preview questions:
Q: CAN Denis McPhee remove the bad memories of the scandal-ridden past and keep the discussions on football?
A: This one actually worked out pretty well for Waterloo. It was far from a successful year on the field, as this early elimination shows, but this team inspired plenty of people. Coming back from a year's absence was obviously going to be tough, but even pastings like the one against Western had their moments and bright spots, and Waterloo easily could have won against York.
Even with the losses, the talk was largely focused on the on-field product. Granted, this team got more attention than your average cellar-dweller thanks to the past, but that was mostly from the good news side. Even early elimination doesn't change that; this program showed some moments despite the losses, and they should be able to build on that. It's worth noting that they weren't historically bad, either; their points for/against, while awful, were about the same as or better than York in each of the last three years. That's not great, as the Lions didn't win a game over that span, but they also didn't have a missed year and a doping scandal to worry about.
Q: CAN one of the larger recruiting classes in team history (45 players) help the Warriors stay competitive on the field after losing a good number of players?
A: This was one of the Warriors' biggest issues. They obviously had talent on the field, but there were plenty of breakdowns and mental lapses, including the ones that led to York's comeback. That should hopefully change with time after they get back to the standard system of building around veterans. There were almost no vets available this year, and it showed.
Q: WHAT will the students and fans think of their team? Will they return to watch their games?
A: This is tough to evaluate from the outside. Some certainly came (reported attendances ranged from 5,145 in their home opener against Guelph to just 1,375 against Windsor, 1,675 against Laurier, and 1,750 against York. Those latter numbers obviously aren't great, but for a team in Waterloo's circumstances, maybe they're not all that bad. The challenge for the Warriors going forward will be building the on-field product and then convincing students to get excited about it. Comeback stories are nice, but without a good product, it's going to be tough to get more fans interested.