And Others Who Weren't So Lucky: Laurier Golden Hawks

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.
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  1. On the one hand Laurier is getting a bad rap for a 1-3 home record. On the other hand, they made poor offensive choices resulting in interceptions in the Queen's playoff game. The game they deserve to lose most was the monsoon/hurricane bowl. Golden Hawks even had proper "cold" ponchos on the sidelines whereas Mac was not prepared for the rain/wind and cold except for the occasional Mom who took their seating blankets down to field level. The Golden Hawk offense looked confused against a decent Marauder defense- players, coaching or both to blame?

    Who knew that Dan Cerino's(of Lancers) punt would come right back to him when Dillon Heap punted the ball back instead of kicking it to the sidelines on that last play against Windsor? That game deserved overtime when Cerino's punt from the 25 yard line failed to go through the endzone. Laurier defense too permissive in allowing final TD and next drive single attempt in that game.

    The Western game was the Golden Hawk's for the asking if Shane Kelly hadn't underthrown his open receiver by 5 plus yards in their final possession. He had just thrown the ball into another Western defender's arm the play or two before with a dropped INT( and lots of razz by the Western fellow's family after the game). I wonder if play calling could have been more patient in that end of game drive? Golden Hawks played point for point with Western and Laurier receivers shredded Mustang pass coverage along with Laurier defense that essentially shut down Tyler Varga of Western

    The game I have the most to beef with is the Gaels/Golden Hawk game this past weekend. As correctly predicted prior to the game on this site, this game was going to be very close. With Laurier inside the Queen's five yard line on a first down- why would you throw the ball? The thrown football BTW was tipped at the line if you watch the replays. Laurier moving the ball in the air and on the ground and it would have been somewhat demoralizing to Queen's to have a rushing TD against them after allowing none through the regular season.

    If the call was from the sideline, I would hold OC Pyear or HC Jeffries responsible- perhaps it was from QB Kelly. Three quarters later the call to kick a FG in the fourth quarter rather than go for first down with the plan to go for TD further down the field had to be a OC/HC call.

    The Laurier/Queen's game was winnable by Golden Hawks. As a Western fan first(alumni nutbar) and Queen's fan second(both kids have attended Queen's - we were all there at PEPS for Vanier in 2009), I still think Gaels were very very fortunate to not have lost that game. Yes the surging Gaels indeed "had the snot scared out of them" as predicted before this game.

    For a team that had probably some of the most athletic receivers in the OUA, with a decent run stopping defense, the Golden Hawks may have been better matched against Western or McMaster(in non monsoon weather) than they were against Queen's. Perhaps we will have to see how Queen's fares against McMaster this coming weekend until we can fully pass judgement on Laurier.

    Yes, Laurier likely underperformed this year- far from embarrassing. Their biggest gaffe this year(other than playoff game against Queen's) was losing to an upstart Windsor team that may have laid a surprise hurting on some other OUA team in the next week or two from that game. While Western heavily favoured against Lancers this coming weekend- we may be surprised of what transpires at TD Richardson this coming Saturday

  2. Freudian slip that did not pass corrective therapy on review- TD Waterhouse was the real stadium reference in the last line. Sorry for the goofup.

  3. You've expanded well on my last question there, BFB. They played pretty well at home, at least better than 1-3 would indicate, but you also nailed it on the head that they (Kelly?) simply made too many mistakes at the worst times. Think about if, somehow, they don't turn it over late against Western and win that game. That gives them a ton of momentum and turns their season (and maybe Western's) around. But that would be playing the 'what if?' game.