Gary Etcheverry's final days as Ottawa Gee-Gees head football coach were like a Friday Night Lights episode with special guest director Federico Fellini.

The past week's drama, which took another turn with the firing of Etcheverry (hate to have called it), is only the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Know that much. The Gee-Gees senior players — here one thinks of centre Shavin Fernando, linebackers Tyler Sawyer and Trevor Seal and QB Aaron Colbon, who only needed a near-mutiny before he was allowed to throw 30 passes in a game this season — are the true empathetic figures. Some of the holdovers who helped Ottawa come within seconds of the Yates Cup in 2010 are going out on a lame-duck season with Ottawa last in the OUA at 0-5.

Even Etcheverry is somewhat of an empathetic figure. His irrational insistence that the double wing could work at the CIS level was bizarre. It was comic fodder to other head coaches in Ontario. But this is what happens with the way uOttawa, under director of sport services Luc Gélineau, does its business. Until they increase the support for the program, recruitment and retention are going to be recurring problems. The below passage from Canada Football Chat says it all:

Ottawa has had trouble attracting good candidates (and holding on to coaches - JP Asselin) because of the lack of financial support and competitive coaching salary levels as compared to other OUA/CIS teams. The new Carleton Ravens have already exposed some of Ottawa's issues, hiring 3 former Gee-Gees coaches in the last 4 months (J.P. Asselin, Chris Coulson, Josh Sacobie).

Please commit that to memory before anyone starts joking that Etcheverry won't have to worry about having to interview for a CIS position again any time soon (never say never at this level of sport!). It's a uOttawa story more than it is about a journeyman coach with a blind spot about what works in theory and what works in an actual application. The last fews day have been more of a boiling over from off-field turmoil that dates back across the past 4-5 seasons.

The question is whether Ottawa can undo the damage while Carleton is hitting the ground running. There is no reason Ottawa shouldn't be a strong program. The early indication is it will have former star O-lineman Naim El-Far serve as a general manager Does this firm up the resolve to make football a flagship program, pay the going rate for to attract and keep good coaches, and so on?

Ottawa's been a successful team over the years, but its next head coach will be its 13th since Don Gilbert guided the legendary 1975 Gee-Gees to the Vanier Cup. Laurier, Queen's and Western, all generally successful Ontario programs, have had 10 head coaches combined in the same period. That buttresses the belief there is some dry rot in the system.
Writing about Friday night's game, Deux Fans describe the silence at Concordia for Montreal's 38-0 win (a worse crowd than McGill? ouch). Jeu blanc indeed. The only teams in that conference whom Montreal has yet to defeat by 24 or more points are McGill and Laval.

For those wondering if the Huskies might get it together this year, I'm afraid to say Calgary had more field goals than Saskatchewan had points. Johnny Mark, despite having two first names, connected on six, though none was longer than 36 yards.

Nobody from any Windsor newspaper went to watch the Lancers against the Lions, judging from the three sentences written about the game, the byline ("Posted by: Sports Desk"), and the irrelevant 2011 picture. In honour of their efforts, I'm not even going to put a "Lancers" tag on this post.

Similarly, sending two people to London for a big game would be too much for the Hamilton Spectator, so to illustrate a game in front of 11,000 people at TD Waterhouse Stadium in September 2012 they chose a file photo of one person at some unknown game at Ron Joyce Stadium in who-knows-what-year. (Aside from the dateline, it's not clear they sent anyone.) The Mustangs lost the game (33-27) and their QB, both of which Greg Marshall is taking rather seriously. We'll have more on this game tomorrow morning, the only game involving a top four team that wasn't a blowout.

Sweet Melinda, does any Ontario daily have photographers anymore? The Whig-Standard's gamer on the Golden Gaels' 32-25 win over Ottawa (closer than it seemed, probably) just uses a giant Queen's logo that is almost larger than the story. (Also, ten points for "local news" — you see the exact same stories at as you do at Now that the Gee-Gees have successfully stopped one thing their coach does they don't like, can someone work on "kicking a field goal from your opponent's 17 when down by 13 with under four minutes to go"?

In basketball news, the 2012-13 non-conference schedule opened this weekend, and in one result, the Lakehead men beat Brandon 83-56. No word if the fans up in Thunder Bay feasted on Bobcat meat for Homecoming.
In a game where six Regina players each caught multiple passes, it's only fitting that a receiver way down on their depth chart scored the winning touchdown.

Keyed by a 95-yard, nine-play comeback drive and capped off by a Marc Mueller-Connor Haas connection in the fading seconds, the 4-1 Regina Rams racked up more than 500 yards of offence while beating the 3-2 Manitoba Bisons 30-27 in Friday night's matchup of top-10 teams.

For the longest time Friday night, it seemed like the winner would be whoever lost more slowly. Most of the first three quarters were sluggish and sloppy, and the game ended up having eight turnovers and 213 yards in penalties. Both teams opened it up in the fourth, though, scoring 27 between them after the score was just 11-10 Regina at the half.

Mueller, who of course missed all of last year to injury, looked to be hurt at the beginning of his team's eventual winning drive. He stayed in the game and, along with his team and a few pass interference calls (some legit, some not, going both ways), drove from his own 15 all the way to the house to take the lead back for good. Haas had caught only four passes prior to this game, and picked up just two more last night, but couldn't have timed the second one any better. (He is seventh on the team in catches and yards, but now second in receiving touchdowns, with two.)

Regina had to come through with their comeback when down 27-23 late in the fourth, but it was made possible in part by some early Manitoba mistakes that could get overlooked in all the second-half activity. In particular, the Rams' largest lead came right after Manitoba's star returner Nic Demski made a key but subtle mistake.


Midway through the third, Regina stalled out in Manitoba's end, but were able to punt the ball close to their opponents' end zone. Instead of letting it roll and taking the single point, Demski picked it up on the 2 and brought it only to the 6. Typically teams will end up conceding a safety when starting that close to their goalposts, so there was a very real chance that Demski cost his team at least one direct point immediately. When you add it all up, though, this poor decision combined with some others may have cost Manitoba the game nearly as much as the Rams' last-minute drive.

Suppose that punt turned into a single point. Following the rouge, the Bisons would have had the ball on their 35-yard line, possession at which is worth about 0.6 points on average to them based on expected points by field position. In other words, the value of starting from their 35 partially offsets the single point they would concede, giving them a net loss of 0.4 points.

So for a conceded safety to be the right decision, they would need to pin the Rams so deep on the kickoff that the two points they spot them are offset to the tune of 1.6 points of field position. Doing so is basically impossible: a more likely starting point for Regina is their own 40, which is worth a point or so to the Rams — and now we're at three points total.

This means the Demski misplay, caused just by not letting the ball bounce six or seven more feet, cost his team about 2.5 points on its own.

In hindsight, it looks even worse, of course: with that next possession, Regina scored a touchdown to go ahead 20-13, their first (but not last) lead of the game.

It wasn't the only such Manitoba miscue. Early in the first, they chose to attempt a field goal on 3rd and 7 from the 14, which may not seem like a big deal but in general that takes nearly a point off the scoreboard compared to going for it. Why? Simply put, you lose the chance to maintain possession. And even if Manitoba failed, they would keep the Rams deeper in their end zone than where they start after a field goal.

Right after call that they were flagged for a 15-yard penalty, which costs teams another point on average. This happens now and then in games but it was so close to the previous mistake that it seems worth mentioning. We're now at a total of 4.5 points, easily more than the final margin of victory for the Rams.

Later in the second, they also punted on 3rd and 2 in their own end, which I'll be nice about for now and call a borderline decision, but it really didn't work out when Jamir Walker returned that punt 63 yards. A field goal on the ensuing short drive tied the game and Manitoba would have to scratch back just to have the lead again. Again that's with hindsight, but now I'll stop being nice and say even before the return it was the wrong call. 3rd and 2 is simple to convert in Canadian football.

Why does all this matter? They lost because Mueller threw for 400 yards and their defence let him march the length of the field, right? Yes and no. In any game, but particularly a close one, you never want to leave points on the field. The Bisons cost themselves two or three points in the first half alone, and then at least two more on that one punt "return" in the third quarter. With some more discipline and less conservative play-calling, this could very well have been a close win for Manitoba rather than a stomach-punch loss.

All those small mistakes were nearly made irrelevant because, in the fourth, the Bisons did retake the lead, if not permanently. After the teams traded field goals, Manitoba scored two majors: Cam Clark's TD pass to Anthony Coombs after two pass interference calls that so enraged the Regina-friendly broadcasters cut their deficit to 23-20, and then on their very next drive Clark found Brendon Bowman for a 55-yard score and the 27-23 lead.

With two minutes left, these Manitoba scores would set up the dramatic ending described above — which was made all the more interesting by the fact that Regina arguably scored the winning touchdown twice. A few plays before Haas scored, Mueller threw to Jared Janotta in the corner of the end zone for what looked like the game-deciding reception. However, it was waved off on offensive pass interference that I never saw — though, with only one camera on the webcast, there's a lot I didn't see.


Overall, it really wasn't a good game for the Bisons. There's the obvious — Clark went 9/28 for 236 yards and threw four interceptions — and aside from the mistakes already mentioned, Walker's big punt return and the blocked field goal showed the need for improvement on special teams as well. Walker told the sideline reporter that after he faked one way, all he could see was green and then was off to the races, and Tyler Perkins, the defensive lineman who got his hand on the field goal, shrugged it off as being "not too hard." Neither of these remarks inspires confidence in Manitoba's punt coverage or field-goal teams.

The Rams were not immune to criticism either, though I think when compared to Manitoba they are generally a more talented team who can overcome their mistakes. The second half had barely started and Regina already had two fumbles, a very poor punt (22 yards out of bounds), and a turnover on downs. You can call those unavoidable or fluky, but effectively having four turnovers on the first 11 drives of the game kept them from pulling as far ahead as they probably should have.

It was, unsurprisingly, impressive to watch Mueller work. The single-camera nature of the broadcast meant lots of wide shots of the field, and that allowed for a greater appreciation of his needle-threading abilities. It doesn't hurt either that basically all the Rams did was throw: Mueller finished with 55 pass attempts for 35 completions and 397 yards, and Regina only tried 22 running plays, even with the lead in the second half.

This Regina side knows too well from last year how much losing an important player can hurt, so any injury is perhaps considered more seriously than usual. Shortly after the third quarter began, the Rams lost one a receiver in a serious injury, and near the end they seemed to lose yet another. The first one was Jason Price, who went down on a tackle on a short-yardage reception, and lay on the Mosaic turf for several minutes. It was an awkward fall, as he was nearly jumping/diving backwards with a defender coming down on top of him, and was taken off in an ambulance after a very long delay. And then Kolten Solomon left the game during the last two minutes, depleting the receiving corps even further. This all comes after Mark McConkey, the Rams' second-leading receiver and a conference all-star a year ago, "suffered a torn medial collateral ligament" in practicing for the second game earlier this month. He has yet to appear in a game since. Mueller is, in theory, good enough to work with backup options, and has several other teammates left to work with, notably Janotta, but as mentioned this sort of thing cannot be taken too seriously.


It's hard to look at this game and think either team can succeed against Calgary without a lot of luck. It was close but not well-played. And they have already lost to the Dinos by scores of 37-21 (Regina) and 33-12 (Manitoba). The Rams and Bisons will likely play each other again in the playoffs, in the 2 vs. 3 semifinal, but based on what I saw tonight, their chances seem slim in that following week against what may very well be a 9-0 Calgary team.

Both these teams are actually quite good, and on their better days could certainly play up to the best in the country. A likely result, however, is that the team that has owned this conference for a while will keep on doing that.
To its credit, the University of Ottawa has not taken the 'nothing to see here' attitude following reports of turmoil within the winless football Gee-Gees ranks.

That would have been an impossible front to maintain. Coach Gary Etcheverry and his coaching staff are all back for Saturday's Ottawa-Queen's game in Kingston, Ont., but the double-wing offence will apparently not be as prominent in the offensive game plan. Meantime, the current coaching staff did not exactly get a vote of confidence.

From Tim Baines:

Assistant athletic director Colin Timm said nothing was rammed down the coaches’ throats, but there was an agreement that there needed to be some adjustments in philosophy — with heat coming from all over the place.
 “You’ve always got pressure from above,” said Timm. “They always want to win. Everybody’s an armchair quarterback. We have concerns, too. It just came to a point after the 0-4 start (that changes had to be made).
 “This was left to the coaching staff to work out a solution to move forward. Our process was to try and bring the team together. We’re throwing away the 0-4 and taking it one game at a time.” 
 ... Timm said there was no talk of dumping Etcheverry this week, despite rumblings that the coach was on shaky ground. (Ottawa Sun)

Taking it one game at a time is a curious coda. Ottawa's key decision-maker, director of sports services Luc Gélineau, is on vacation, after all. The same might go for the clause this week. That isn't meant to imply there will be a change after the Queen's game or as soon as the regular season ends; it only means that there has been some discord. It is hard to imagine how a team can pull together and put its best foot forward against the No. 5 team in the country on Saturday.

It's possible the Gee-Gees could play out the string with the current, flawed state of affairs now that the playoffs are a remote possibility. The initial point on Tuesday wasn't to report that anyone was about to be out of work, but to convey that Gee-Gees players were just as frustrated as their alumni and fans and decided to move on it. It is tragicomic that it came to such a head. This season might be lost, but they can do damage control and lay some groundwork for the future.
With their season in a shambles, Ottawa Gee-Gees footballers appear to be mutinying against first-year head coach Gary Etcheverry.

Multiple sources confirmed for on Tuesday that Colin Timm, uOttawa sports services' assistant director, played mediator during an approximately four-hour-long meeting between Etcheverry and some of the team's senior leaders. Players also ran a spread offence during a practice where several coaches were absent, instead of practising Etcheverry's double-wing offence, which has yet to produce results amid the Gee-Gees' first 0-4 start in a quarter-century. Ottawa has looked disjointed on each side of the ball, ranking seventh in offence and ninth in defence in the 10-team OUA despite returning nearly all of their starters from a season ago. They are also dead last in pass offence and pass defence.

It's expected there will be restructuring of the coaching staff as soon as Wednesday. Offensive assistant Corey Goff could also be on the hot seat. At this hour, it's not clear what that means for the much-travelled Etcheverry ahead of Saturday's Ottawa-Queen's game in Kingston.

"He'll be gone by the end of the Queen's game... 100 per cent," a source said of Etcheverry.

Luc Gélineau, Ottawa's director of sports services, is on vacation, which further complicates matters. Where this story goes might turn on how serious the Gee-Gees players are about demanding changes. Ottawa, the lone winless team in OUA, is in tough to make the playoffs just two years after many of their veterans came within seconds of winning the Yates Cup.

Etcheverry, throughout his coaching career, has garnered a reputation for being adamant about running his schemes. That was a contributing factor to his departure from the Saskatchewan Roughriders before the 2011 season; he was essentially demoted from defensive coordinator in favour of Richie Hall despite the fact the 'Riders had made consecutive Grey Cup appearances. That makes it tough to picture the Gee-Gees ditching the double wing while Etcheverry remains as coach. In a previous stint with the B.C. Football Conference's South Fraser (now Langley) Rams, he left after three games after refusing to get rid of the double wing.

These reports did not exactly materialize from nowhere. Many Gee-Gees football alumni are reportedly upset about the direction of the program. Suffice to say, a surreal 24-48 hours are ahead in Gee-Gee land.
Continuing on with our ballot-posting, here's how some of our staffers voted in the FRC-CIS Top 10 poll following Week Four's action. It was a week that didn't see a lot of change in the results, as the top five  remain the same and there's only slight change further down the chart, but there were still some interesting games, most notably Regina's 35-26 upset of Saskatchewan, McMaster's 31-20 win over Queen's and Calgary's 62-7 thumping of UBC. Read on to see how those games affected our ballots. Our previous ballots following Weeks One, Two and Three can be found here, here and here.

Neate Sager's ballot:

1. McMaster: Handled Queen's rather easily, although a run of nine consecutive games of scoring at least 40 points ended; Kyle Quinlan is still INT-free while averaging more than 300 per game and nearly 11 yards per attempt.

2. Calgary: 62-7 over UBC. It's getting to be redonkulous.

3. Montreal: It seems prudent to keep the Carabins and Rouge et Or in these slots until their Armageddon-esque home-and-home series in two weeks.

4. Laval: Statement win against McGill (69-0), but their secondary was really never challenged by the Redmen on a rain-soaked night in Montreal.

5. Regina: Better point differential than CW's other 3-1 team, Manitoba, whom they conveniently are scheduled against this Saturday. Two big turnovers from their D (a third-and-short stop by Brett Jones and a long INT return by Kirby Kezama) help them bury Saskatchewan.

6. Queen's: It was hard focusing in practice after beating Western the week before and that showed with a first-half no-show at McMaster, which led by as much as 30 in the 33-20 win.

7. Western: Donnie Marshall completed more passes to his brother Brian Marshall (6 for 149 yards) than he did to his other receivers (5) against Windsor, not that it mattered with the Mustangs' rushing game.

8. Manitoba: Cam Clark passed 27 times for 442 yards vs. Alberta; some of us reset the video game when it's that easy.

9. Saskatchewan: Have lost close games to two teams I have ranked higher and still have to face Canada West's highest-ranked team. Pretender or contender?

10. Acadia: May we bring them to the OUA to play out Ottawa's schedule? The Axemen have only a sweep of Saint Mary's and 30 decent minutes at Laval to their credit, but they didn't nearly blow a two-TD fourth-quarter lead to a team that been outscored 117-11 in its previous two games like Guelph did against Toronto. Sherbrooke could move in here if it plays Laval close this weekend.
Following Week Three's action, which included Calgary romping over Manitoba and Queen's taking down Western, here are the latest Football Reporters of Canada-CIS Top 10 poll ballots from some of our staff members who vote in it. See the CIS site for how the poll turned out. You can find our ballots from after Week One here and from after Week Two here. Interestingly enough, one of our voters was the only one to break from the herd and choose someone other than McMaster as #1. Read on to find out who...

Evan Daum's ballot: 

1. McMaster - 45-16 this past weekend, undefeated and defending national champions. Until they lose, they're the cream of the crop.

2. Laval - I'm a holdout of sorts on the Rouge et Or. I've had them pencilled in at No. 2 all year, and they'll remain there until they lose, or win a tight one against a far inferior opponent.

3. Calgary - They passed a good test this weekend in Winnipeg against the Bisons and should be able to get past a disappointing UBC team this weekend on the road.

4. Montreal - Ranked No.3 in the only poll that matters, but I still don't know if this team is truly better than Laval. Until October 7th rolls around, when the they play the Rouge et Or, we likely won't know.

5. Queen's - Chance to make some real noise this weekend when they get the Marauders. Could cause a big shakeup in the poll if they pull off the upset.

6. Western - In the No. 6 hole thanks in large part to the fact the trio of teams behind them have proven to be good, albeit not great. I'll avoid the Western Canadian bias and give the benefit of the doubt to the Mustangs.

7. Saskatchewan - They beat UBC over the weekend, but then again everyone has so far this season. They should be in for all they can handle this weekend against a solid Regina team.

8. Manitoba - Came back to Earth thanks to a loss to the only team you need to know in Canada West. They're still playing good football and should be able to handle an Alberta team that enters their meeting this weekend in Winnipeg on a 12-game skid.

9. Regina - It took until the fourth quarter against Alberta for the Rams everyone thought made the trip to Edmonton to show up, but a 31-17 win has this squad positioned well for the final game of the first half this weekend.

10. Acadia - The only AUS team inside my top 10. Could've been Sherbrooke this week, but likely won't be next.
There were a few highly significant results for the CIS football season as a whole Saturday, and one of the most notable might have been the second-ranked Calgary Dinos demolishing seventh-ranked Manitoba 33-12 on the road. Add that to their 37-21 Week One win over Regina and their 65-6 demolition of Alberta in Week Two, and the Dinos might have the most impressive CIS record to date. (Top-ranked McMaster's also looking good, and their 45-16 win over Ottawa Saturday was nice, but the Marauders have only played the Gee-Gees, the Waterloo Warriors and the Guelph Gryphons, a less impressive dance card.) This was a very convincing win from Calgary, and one that should have them in excellent shape going forward.

Manitoba wasn't all that well-regarded in the preseason, but their play in the first two weeks with a big road win over UBC and a narrow home win over Saskatchewan was certainly impressive. The Bisons didn't completely collapse Saturday, either, putting up 211 passing yards and 117 rushing yards against Calgary. They just didn't have the firepower to hang with the Dinos. Eric Dzwilewski may not have received the press attention of quarterbacks like Kyle Quinlan, Kyle Graves or Billy Greene thus far, but he may be playing himself into the discussion as one of the league's best quarterbacks. His showing Saturday was definitely notable, as he completed 23 of 32 attempts (71.9 per cent) for 329 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and added 49 rushing yards on eight carries. Dzwilewski also showed a strong connection with receiver Chris Dobko, who had 13 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. The Dinos' ground game wasn't quite as imposing as it has been in the past, as Cuong Thai Lieu and Mercer Timmis combined for just 92 yards on 18 carries, but that still made for a respectable 5.1 yards per carry average. Combine that with the remarkable showing of the passing game and Calgary had a very nice day.

Another team that had a good day? The #6 Queen's Golden Gaels, who beat archrival Western 18-11. It was an impressive statement from the Gaels, as the fifth-ranked Mustangs were a much tougher foe than the York Lions or Laurier Golden Hawks they'd previously beat. There were some very solid performances to take note of, too; the defence was dominant and running back Ryan Granberg picked up 169 yards and a touchdown on the ground with a ridiculous 8.0 yards per carry average. Still, this wasn't a terrible loss for Western, as they hung in there right to the end on the road against a tough opponent. They'll need to get more aerial production, as quarterback Donnie Marshall completed just seven of 16 passes (36.8 per cent) for 109 yards with two picks, but the Mustangs had a real shot to win this game despite that. Don't write them off as out of OUA contention just yet.

There was some noteworthy action further down the card as well, with Sherbrooke edging Saint Mary's 23-22 and Laurier picking up their first win of the year thanks to a 24-20 home victory over York. Most of the other top teams won in a walk, though; top-ranked McMaster rolled over Ottawa 45-16, while fourth-ranked Montreal pummelled Bishop's 45-15.  Windsor thumped Toronto 55-4 and Guelph beat Waterloo 47-17, so those teams may garner some (low) Top 10 votes this week. It's the late games that may prove most interesting, though, with No.9 Saskatchewan quite close with UBC heading into the fourth quarter and No.3 Laval facing No.8 Acadia. Keep an eye on the CIS site for those results; we'll have more here tomorrow.
We're continuing the old CIS Blog tradition, with some of our staff members who vote in the weekly Football Reporters of Canada-CIS Top 10 poll posting and defending their ballots. See the CIS site for the poll results. You can find our ballots from after Week One here. Here's how we voted following the second week of CIS football action, which included another bad loss for UBC and York beating Ottawa:

Neate Sager's ballot:

1. McMaster: Beat Waterloo 68-21; Waterloo's Twitter said the Warriors "held their own against the top team in the country."

2. Calgary: Backup QB Andrew Buckley threw for more yards in mop-up time vs. Alberta than either Ottawa or Laurier's starters did in the games I watched on Saturday.

3. Montreal: Their margins of victory have simply been more impressive than Laval's. Please keep in mind it has only been two games and this is an opinion poll.

4. Laval: Would anyone else be ranked No. 2 after winning their first two games by a combined 61-37 over teams which missed the playoffs last season?

5. Queen's: Will need more than 78 rushing yards and 3.1 per carry to beat that school in London in this week's Beemer Bowl. The Waterloo Record called QB Billy McPhee "erratic" in their advance coverage of a game where he went 22-of-28 for 333 yards and no picks... in a road game that began while it was raining.

6. Western: Like how they have tailored the offence to Donnie Marshall's unique skillset (strong arm. quick feet).

7. Manitoba: Have to be in this spot after Cam Clark's 317-yard day helped them beat Saskatchewan in the undercard for the Banjo Bowl.

8. Saskatchewan: The Green Dogs did not play poorly vs. the Bisons. Manitoba just executed better in the final minutes.

 9. Acadia: Hold their spot after shading Saint Mary's, which stayed close thanks to a missed field goal return TD by Jahmeek Taylor. A question for the coaches who read this site: can you practice covering missed field goal tries without killing your kicker's confidence?

10. Guelph: Replace Windsor after keeping the Lancers out of the end zone in 28-9 win. Have a chance to be 4-1 going into their Thanksgiving weekend matchup vs. Western, although Laurier will improve.

Evan Daum's ballot:

1. McMaster: Hard to argue with the defending champions' start to the season. They've come out of the gate as expected.

2. Laval: Two weeks in and a pair of victories means Laval finds themselves in familiar territory near the top of the poll. No question this is another Vanier-Cup calibre squad.

3. Calgary: They were pushed early by a solid Regina team in Week 1, but had no trouble against an Alberta team that has been outscored 97-6 through two games this season.

4. Western: No surprise to see this team roll over Toronto this week, but a serious test comes next weekend against a good Queen's team.

5. Montreal: Another impressive performance this week keeps them inside the top-five and ready to move up if any of the front runners falter.

6. Queen's: Ho-hum 42-16 win over Laurier sets the scene for next weekend.

7. Manitoba: Apparently, this team is for real. Blake Nill told me before this weekend's games the Bisons were for real. He appears to be right and will get a firsthand look this weekend in Winnipeg.

8. Acadia: Stay inside the top 10 could come to an abrupt end after next weekend's tilt against Laval. They'll need to keep it close to stick around.

9. Regina: Played well against Calgary and even better this past weekend against UBC. Marc Mueller should have another big night Friday against Alberta.

10. Saskatchewan: Still a top 10 team, albeit several spots lower this week then I had them last week. A good team that still needs to work out some kinks and find some chemistry.

Kevin Garbuio's ballot:

1. McMaster
2. Calgary
3. Montreal
4. Laval
5. Queen's
6. Western
7. Manitoba
8. Acadia
9. Guelph
10. Saskatchewan

Commentary: Until McMaster loses, they will be my number one. I like what Calgary has been doing on offence, and their depth makes them even more impressive. Their first test comes this weekend against Manitoba, and I think they will be able to answer in an powerful fashion. I bumped Montreal ahead of Laval because they have been dominating teams while Laval continues to sputter on offence. Bishop's hasn't been able to close this year so it would not be a stretch to think that the Rouge Et Or got away with one. Queen's and Western are extremely equal; I think either team could have been 5-6. I put it this way because of what Queen's did to York. I have had Manitoba at this spot all year; I think they looked impressive against Saskatchewan in an evenly-matched game. I am excited for their matchup against the Dinos. Acadia should have won big this weekend but were unable to close. They will have to close this week as they travel to PEPS, a place that has not been kind to the Axemen (or anyone else, for that matter). A slow start against Laval, and it could be over quick. Guelph surprised me this week. I have been low on them for a while now and have been hesitant in buying into the hype. I still do not think they are contenders yet, but beating Windsor is a nice start. Holding Austin Kennedy to 0 touchdowns? Stunning. At 10, it was a toss-up with Saskatchewan and Windsor. I gave it to the Huskies because of how close their game was with the Bisons.

Rob Pettapiece's ballot

1. McMaster
2. Calgary
3. Laval
4. Montreal
5. Queen's
6. Western
7. Manitoba
8. Acadia
9. Saskatchewan
10. Sherbrooke

Commentary: Considered moving Montreal ahead of Laval; they've had an impressive start to the season and weren't so bad last year, either. Lower down on the ballot, Windsor and UBC drop off after not just losing but losing poorly, to teams that aren't upper-tier. Manitoba's solid but not one-sided win over Saskatchewan means they join the Huskies in the top 10. Sherbrooke's 10th just because I couldn't find a compelling argument for another team to get that spot.

Andrew Bucholtz's ballot:

1. McMaster
2. Calgary
3. Laval
4. Montreal
5. Queen's
6. Western
7. Manitoba
8. Regina
9. Saskatchewan
10. Acadia

Commentary: McMaster and Calgary stay at the top with impressive performances. Laval and Montreal are very close at the moment, as are Queen's and Western. I'm not entirely convinced the Bisons are going to be this good all year, but what they've done so far's enough to get them the #7 slot. Regina thumped UBC and moves up for it; Saskatchewan narrowly lost and sticks around, while Acadia makes their debut on my ballot and the Thunderbirds and Lancers drop off. Axemen came out with a win against Saint Mary's, but weren't overly impressive; they get the call over underwhelming UBC and Windsor, though. I'm interested to see if they can keep it close on the road against Laval this week.

Thoughts? Your own picks? Leave them in the comments.
For several years we have tried to quantify the best quarterbacking performances in CIS football. We started in 2005, where the top QB was Laval's Benoît Groulx, and continued through to 2010 (Kyle Quinlan) and now 2011 (uh...Kyle Quinlan again). Below are the rankings for the 2011 season.


First, in a vain attempt to provide some year-to-year continuity, here are the top 10 quarterbacks in adjusted net yards per attempt, relative to their conference average and adjusted for the level of competition each player faced. (These are not the official 2011 rankings.) All playoff games are included.

Leaders in adjusted net yards per attempt relative to conference average (100 = average), 2011 (all games)
1K QuinlanMcMaster290225
2A KennedyWindsor293182
3E DzwilewskiCalgary269166
4B GreeneUBC359161
5K GravesAcadia253160
6B Prud'HommeLaval333148
7J CreightonSaint Mary's157143
8A ColbonOttawa289139
9R QuestConcordia222127
10J Doyon-RochSherbrooke343124

Note that those are indexed to the conference average, and not per-attempt numbers (it would be very difficult for anyone to gain 225 yards per pass attempt, unless they were playing Waterloo). Kyle Quinlan's 225 means that for every 100 yards gained through the air by an average OUA quarterback, Quinlan and his receivers gained 225. No, that is not a misprint.

These rankings are based on slightly different methodology than those in previous years, so we cannot compare Quinlan's 225 directly to the previous leader (Josh Sacobie, 2007, 176), but it's safe to say it is probably the best passing performance by anyone for as long as we've been tracking it here.


Now, because I like to make things difficult and change the methodology each fall, here is a new explanation of how the 2011 rankings were developed.

We're trying to estimate each quarterback's win value for 2011, which would give us a more accurate list of who the most valuable quarterbacks really were. It's kind of silly to have Jack Creighton ranked above Aaron Colbon when the latter was involved in many more plays; there's value in playing more often, provided you aren't terrible.

We start with each quarterback's adjusted net yards (ANY) — and that's all QBs, not just the ten above — and as noted above, we are giving more credit to those who played tougher competition. Specifically, we take the strength-of-schedule component from last year's RPI, and convert it into a multiplier where a value above 1 means this player faced better opponents. We then compare his total to what a replacement-level quarterback would achieve in the same number of opportunities.

"Replacement level" refers to the level of production you would get out of a player acquired for minimal cost. In CIS football terms, this would mean someone not highly-recruited and maybe not even on a roster in the first week — in other words, whatever yahoo happens to be walking by the stadium, so long as that yahoo has some eligibility left (note: such requirements not necessary at Laurier). A rough estimate of replacement level, and the one we'll use, is based on the results for every player who had no more than 50 pass attempts in the last few years. "QB2" is not a terribly high bar to meet in CIS, after all.

(If you wanted to be cruel, you could just define replacement level to be the entire Waterloo team. But I'm not sure they were even that good.)

Once we have the difference between a QB's actual ANY and the ANY his replacement would put up in the same amount of playing time, that gives us that quarterback's "yards above replacement." Which we can then turn into points above replacement (15 yards per point), and wins above replacement (32 points per win), based on known conversions for CIS football.

So, again, we see that Quinlan had an awesome season, providing Mac with nearly five wins above a replacement-level quarterback. (My favourite stat: he passed for 1,341 yards in four playoff games, more than the entire York team had in eight regular-season games.) Quinlan's figure of 4.8 WAR doesn't necessarily mean that without him, the Marauders would have lost five more games; his backup was better than replacement level, after all. Marshall Ferguson was actually 10th in QB WAR, and could have started for several CIS teams. These numbers suggest that if you gave Ferguson all of Quinlan's playing time from last year, including the playoffs, Mac would only lose about half a win — which says quite a lot about Marshall Ferguson. But having a better backup doesn't make Quinlan's season any less valuable ... though, yes, he did put up a lot of these numbers against not-very-good OUA teams.

Austin Kennedy and Hec Crighton winner Billy Greene are second and third, but each is a win or more behind Quinlan. They would probably be first and second in any other year.
York beat Ottawa.

Wait, York beat Ottawa? Yes, it would appear so. Final score was 47 to 36. 47! York outscored their entire 2008 in one game. That's actually true. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but York has Laurier away and Waterloo home in the next two weeks, and a 3-1 start is not out of the question. 2-2 is certainly possible. The last time York finished with more than one win was the 2005 season. Meanwhile, the Beckwith Gee-Gees are 0-2. Just like adding a CFL coach didn't turn Waterloo around, adding a CFL defensive co-ordinator hasn't stopped Ottawa from allowing 1,122 yards of total offence in two games. Some defensive improvement seems crucial.

Maybe Blake Nill was onto something. His team, and the team he (presumably) voted for top spot in the Canada West coaches poll, are the only 2-0 teams in the conference. This win will solidify Manitoba's spot in the top 10 (they're on my ballot this week) but let's point out that the Huskies didn't have a terrible game, and credit them for going for it on 3rd and 2 early in the game when most teams would not. (Neither conversion worked, and they didn't try it again until the end of the game. But: baby steps.) Also, if I'm reading this right, the team with the wind outscored the other by 52-7. David Larkins picked Manitoba to win 28-24, but they actually won 31-28. Slacker.

Case in point about how you can't just use transitivity to evaluate teams: Mac beat Guelph by 41. Guelph beat Windsor by 19. Windsor beat Ottawa by 45. That doesn't mean McMaster will outscore Ottawa by 105 points next week. Though I'd kind of like to see that. Anyway, there was not even a touchdown from the Lancers yesterday. QB Austin Kennedy (23-45, 244 yards, 77 rushing yards) told Bob Duff, "It’s a game where you can’t blame anyone but yourself."

It's a few days late, but our Evan Daum has a follow-up from CJSR's Nick Frost on U of A football coach Jeff Stead's comments about Canada West officials. Stead believes it's too inconsistent, not just from Vancouver to Winnipeg, but between the West and Quebec and Ontario and so on: “At some point Football Canada needs to understand that officiating in our game needs to be the same.” You'll hear very similar comments about basketball officials in this country as well.

The UBC men's basketball team has just two players left over from 2010-11, but Howard Tsumura, after watching them drop a close one to Eastern Washington, was pleased with what he saw, and talks about the promising rookies on this T-Birds squad.
What you missed while having six years added to your life ...

Another night of close, well-fought games (he said with sarcasm) with the average margin of victory topping 40 points. Friend of the blog David Larkins had previewed the Canada West games, and had Friday's results much closer than they turned out to be — Saskatchewan and Manitoba don't play until tonight — but he was 2 for 2 in picking winners. Goes to show that the score itself can be a random outcome even if you do know that the Dinos will handle the Bears no problem.

UBC's second half last night is what you'd expect out of a lower-tier OUA team: they went from 13-7 up to 49-20 down, at one point allowing five unanswered touchdowns. While the T-Birds couldn't play a full 60 minutes, the Rams didn't even need to, as we learn from Ian Hamilton. (Bonus fun: a Rams player saying the coach gave a great halftime speech, then the coach saying he didn't say much at all.)

Montreal's win over Concordia was deceptively a blowout, as it was close in the fourth, yet still a "fumigation" (including ten sacks? yikes).

Allan Maki writes in the Globe that CCES doesn't have funding to test the same number of CIS football players this year: from "more than 500" to "only 100." There are jokes to be made here, I'm sure, but it's enough to say that the $200,000 to $320,000 they're saving by not running those 400 tests (according to the numbers in the story) is a pittance when compared to the full expenses for London 2012 — the apparent reason for their now-limited budget.

In non-football news, the various teams at Mount Royal seem to be going into their first year of Canada West play with eyes open, writes the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland, who speaks to the men's volleyball and women's basketball coaches.
Today we welcome a guest post from Scott Hastie, the new assistant sports editor at The Silhouette, on the atmosphere surrounding McMaster's first home game since their Vanier Cup championship.

On Monday afternoon, the Marauders took the field for the first time since their Vanier Cup championship, in front of a sold-out Ron Joyce Stadium.

The game itself was nothing memorable, with Mac dominating as you can see in the highlights below, but the atmosphere in the stadium was special, to say the least.

In addition to the Vanier celebrations, the home opener was tied in with McMaster’s Welcome Week and the stands were full of wide-eyed first year students, ready to cheer on their football team — and not just for the first half. The students were donning their dorm colour t-shirts while the McMaster spirit squad, nicknamed the Maroons, led the first-years in chants for the entire game.

The game began with a ceremonial kickoff, led by McMaster football alumnus and decorated Olympian rower Jerry Brown. The silver medallist (and former offensive tackle) received a warm welcome from the Hamilton crowd, but the buzz for Brown did not compare to the anticipation for the McMaster squad. As the team gathered at centre-field for a huddle, the record attendance crowd gave the Maroon and Grey a standing ovation, drowning out any and all attempts for conversation for those of us in the press box.

Impressively, the fans in attendance remained in their seats throughout, despite the McMaster lead reaching 22 points at the half and swelling to 43 in the fourth quarter. This year, football means something to the Mac community and the crowd made it very clear: if you come to Ron Joyce, be prepared to experience what home-field advantage looks like. The fans pulled no punches, chanting “Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye” at the end of the fourth quarter, rubbing the loss in the face of a young Guelph squad that had received some Top 10 votes in the preseason poll.

It was a new experience for an OUA event. The vibe in the stadium was full of optimism and the hope of a repeat. Yes, it was a game where first-year students could get in for free, but general admission tickets for upper-year students had sold out a week before the game, and season ticket sales are up 40%.

The fan support is definitely there, as you'd expect with a defending champion. It remains to be seen whether McMaster will have the same success this year, but the road back to the Vanier Cup began here on Monday, and the home team could not have asked for a better start.
It's the return of an old CIS Blog tradition, with some of our staff members who vote in the weekly Football Reporters of Canada-CIS Top 10 poll posting and defending their ballots. See the CIS site for the poll resultsHere's how we voted following Week One's CIS football action, which included OUA blowouts and a Canada West upset:

Neate Sager's ballot: 

1. Mac - until proven otherwise in a meaningful game.
2. Laval - Strong start vs. improving McGill.
3. Calgary - Nice start for Eric Dzwilewski with 307 yards vs. Regina. Crazy to see the Dinos pass more than they rush.
4. Montreal - Alexandre Nadeau-Piuze passed for 401 yards vs. Sherbrooke, which used to be a month's worth of yards for Les Bleus quarterbacks. Maciocia!
5. Queen's - Put away York early, saving themselves for Laurier, which apparently decided to save all of its offence for the last 7 games.
6. Windsor - Some of Austin Kennedy's touchdown passes vs. Ottawa looked like what happens when a team runs through a new play "against air."
7. Western - Probably a good bet to snap U of T's shutout streak this Saturday.
8. Saskatchewan - Good bounce-back by blanking Alberta in their Canada West opener.
9. Acadia - The over/under for Rod Black references to Kyle Graves attending the Alouettes training camp if Acadia makes the Uteck Bowl is 43.5.
10. Manitoba - The Bisons-'Birds game had 549 rushing yards and a punt return touchdown. They did know they were permitted to tackle, correct?
What you missed while trying not to make eye contact with Daniel Negreanu ...

Not the best start for Gary Etcheverry at Ottawa U: the Lancers put 63 on them, the highest score Windsor's had since [looks it up] September 24, 2005, when they beat a very poor U of T team 63 to 22. This result also means the Gee-Gees have surrendered 164 points in their last three games going back to last year. Etcheverry told the Ottawa Citizen that "we lacked explosion in everything we did" — which is true, as this was more of an implosion.

Man, remember when Waterloo beat McMaster four years ago? No, I don't either. Yesterday they dropped their opener to the Mustangs 54-10. The focus in The Record is on Dennis McPhee, former head coach of one program now defensively coordinating for the other, who left Waterloo to spend more time with his Mustangs family. We also hear from his replacement, Joe Paopao, who says of the Warriors, "Based on what we saw today, we’ll be alright." Does anyone have the heart to tell him?

Ask Mac how Guelph is this year. The final was 50-9, a combination of Kyle Quinlan being very good and the Gryphons, apparently, completely giving up before two minutes had passed in the second half by conceding a safety and a 75-yard TD pass on consecutive plays. Quinlan actually rushed for 104 yards himself, half of what the entire Guelph offence gained on the day. When you remove Waterloo games from last year's results, only three teams had a negative point differential: York, Toronto, and Guelph. There is no current relevance to that anecdote whatsoever.

19 points (Toronto over Laurier) isn't a blowout, really, but it gets extra credit for being a shutout. Because this game hadn't started by 4:56pm, it didn't make the earlier Record story (not even in a "late action included..." mention).

The most noteworthy thing out of the York-Queen's game was that the Kingston Whig-Standard used "Golden Gaels." No, really. The highlight package put together by The Score consisted of exactly two plays. The game was played in front of 8,191 spectators, 8,215 if you include York.

Because there wasn't much else of interest yesterday, let's bring in the 2012-13 edition of This Week In Chris Oliver a few months early: "Use stats to reveal the truth to your players."
Big story of the day is Manitoba's upset of the Thunderbirds, in Vancouver, 31 to 24. ("Upset" meaning "I didn't expect this." But what do I know.) With seven minutes left, UBC was down just by six (23-17) but according to Howard Tsumura, "a roughing penalty to UBC on the ensuing kickoff literally paved the way for a six-yard [Nic] Demski scoring run." Literally.

Montreal handled Sherbrooke quite easily, mostly through the air, in winning 38-14. As Deux Fans point out, they stopped Rotrand Sené (is this the first game recap from the team that hasn't mentioned his name?) but they did not stop Alexandre Nadeau-Piuze and the rest of the passing game, as Nadeau-Piuze became the most prolific passer in Carabins history.

Calgary's win over Regina was mostly good, writes the Herald's Kristen Odland, but also some areas for development: a few too many flags, miscommunication among a CFL draft pick-laden offensive line, and a couple of missed field goals "including a 32-yarder with the wind."

The Stingers held a 20-point lead at the half over Bishop's, and then the Gaiters conceded two safeties in the second half, so it was that kind of day for teams in the Eastern Townships. The second quarter began with a 103-yard touchdown pass from Reid Quest to Kris Bastien — you won't see that in the NFL.

No word yet on how UBC will manage to play their remaining home games on a field literally covered in asphalt.
What you missed while getting thrown out at home...

The CIS football season started last night, but it seems nobody told Alberta, who lost 32-0. Huskie Outsider has a game story, as you'd expect, as well as a "Sights and Sounds" video that shows you just what kind of a show they put on in Saskatoon:

Both at Yahoo! Sports, our Neate Sager looks at some reasons why only one Canada West team has won a Vanier Cup in 13 years, and our Andrew Bucholtz runs down the various list of teams who have a non-trivial shot at winning it this year.

Chris Cochrane, in the Chronicle Herald, acknowledges that the FRC-CIS top 10 results "carry little weight at any time of the season", nonetheless says the poll is an indicator of how "the AUS still lacks competitive respect. And that’s a justifiable impression." (Disclosure: I'm a voter in that poll.)

In a CP story, we find that Laval coach Glen Constantin likes Acadia to repeat. Those of who chose Saint Mary's are therefore disagreeing with a coach who has 134 championship rings. No pressure.

The Canada West coaches poll, as noted by UBC coach Shawn Olson, is a bit of a surprise with the Huskies finding themselves quite low at fifth out of six in the conference, despite being 8th nationwide in the CIS poll. (And I know coaches can't vote for their own teams, but Manitoba?)
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home