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.
Next up: Laurier, eliminated after a playoff loss at Queen's.
Record: 4-5 (4-4 regular season, lost OUA quarterfinal to Queen's 14-10)
RPI: 14th (out of 26)
Per-game stats (including playoffs):
Points for: 33.3
Points against: 23.1
Passing yards: 397.5
Rushing yards: 115.4
Passing yards against: 273.9
Rushing yards against: 141.2
Looking back at our preview questions:
Q: CAN Shane Kelly stay healthy enough to play a full season and work with a deep receiving core?
Kelly started all eight games and used his team’s strengths by depending on Shamawd Chambers and Dillon Heap. He put up some eye-popping numbers – just not all good ones. He led the league in total passing yards until the season’s final week, and only three more players (Kyle Quinlan, Billy Greene and Evan Martin) threw for more yards per game. Unfortunately for Laurier fans, only three guys threw more interceptions, and Kelly’s penchant for throwing red zone picks at crucial times proved fatal for the Golden Hawks.
Q: WILL the loss of key starters along the OL allow Kelly the time to hit his receivers?
The new O-Line kept Kelly off his back, allowing the fifth-year starter to be sacked just seven times. With some of those late interceptions, you wonder if Kelly wouldn’t have liked just a little more time to find his receivers, but this one can’t be pinned on the big boys up front.
Q: CAN the Hawks establish a run game, something that was missing last season?
Apart from doing just enough to keep the defence honest, the run wasn’t a huge part of Laurier’s attack. They definitely favoured the pass, throwing 36 times per game while running just 24 times per game, but in the end they finished middle-of-the-pack in yards per attempt, both run and pass. And while feature back Anton Bennett might have led the league in trash talk/sideline clichés, he wasn’t used enough in the offence to be considered an impact player, and rushed for just 10 yards on seven carries in Laurier's playoff loss.
Q: WILL Laurier be able to take advantage of a favourable schedule, playing all the top contenders at home?
Yes and no, despite a 1-3 home record. They torched Ottawa, and while they lost to Windsor and Western, they were both close games that weren’t all that bad considering their 4-4 record. They also lost 25-6 to Mac in the hurricane bowl.