Our AUS previews begin today. First up, Kevin Garbuio looks at Mount A.
Last year: 3-5 season, 3-6 overall, -25.3 SRS
Extra AUS opponent: St. F-X
Interlock opponent: McGill
Mount Allison returns plenty of starters on both sides of the ball and that certainly is a reason for optimism. The Mounties should be excited about this season due to their soft schedule. While Acadia and Saint Mary's potentially will start the season 0-2, there is a legitimate reason to believe the Mounties will be 2-0 going into week three. They have played X extremely tough the last few seasons and face a beat up McGill team in week 2. The magic number for making the playoffs in the AUS is usually three wins so a 2-0 start will obviously help.
The Mounties return 11 starters on offence, the most impressive of which is standout tailback Jordan Botel who averaged 110 yards per game last year. If the Mounties hope to be successful in 2013, Botel needs to be equal to what he was in his rookie season (he was a rookie in the CIS but due to his time in the CJFL he was not eligible for any rookie of the year awards). Starting QB Brandon Leyh needs to step up his production this year; he had 878 yards passing with only three touchdowns. While he had just three interceptions he needs to be able to produce points.
On defence the team returns nine starters. Jacob LeBlanc, the defensive tackle, has really emerged as the face of the program since the graduation of Gary Ross. The team needs to be stronger this year on defence especially against the stronger opponents if they hope to be successful. Mount Allison had issues in coverage last year. Donovan Saunders will have to translate his athleticism from returner to defensive back.
The issue for the Mounties is that they don’t have the athleticism to keep up with the top teams in the conference. Head coach Kelly Jeffrey is one of the most innovative coaches in the conference and always manages to get his skill players the ball, but can only do so much. Even with a large number of returning players it would be stretch to think the Mounties would be in the Loney Bowl but stranger things have happened. At the very least a winning season could stick it to those who think the program should fold.