Previewing the 2015 football season

A blocked field goal was the missed play on Stefan Ptaszek and the McMaster Marauders' back seat when they opened the 2015 campaign.

After dropping the 2014 Vanier Cup 20-19 to the Montréal Carabins, the Marauders waltz into the season looking for that one play and another chance.

"The way we lost, we feel like we were one play short of a Vanier Cup championship ... I hope all of our coaches and athletes look to have one more play in them. If we get that close again, we find that play," Ptaszek said.

McMaster opened Sunday, Aug. 30 against arguably one of the best vertical pass games in the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, but shut down all assets they had in a 55-33 victory.

The secondary is tested right away — which could determine how much work needs to be done. Nick Shorthill and a very senior secondary have hung up their maroon jerseys. A new secondary comes in with minimal experience, and will be working to find their stride.

Highly touted quarterback Asher Hastings will be the number one man in the pocket — but hasn't really seen much competition standing behind Marshall Ferguson and Kyle Quinlan for the past few seasons. But Hastings showed his arm in week 1, sending an 89-yard bullet down the field for one of five touchdowns. He finished with 384 total yards.

But how quick can it be done? There was still some sloppy play, and this isn't the same calibre of Marauder we've come to know.

"I can't pretend we'll be a Vanier Cup group week one," Ptaszek said. "Don't judge us by where we start, judge us by where we finish."

McMaster's not the only team that may not be a Vanier Cup contender from the beginning. The Carabins, despite hoisting the cup for the first time in franchise history, lost a lot from their arsenal during the offseason. Byron Archambault, one of the best linebackers in the game, was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A relatively lengthy list of former players graduated.

The Carabins are all about jumping off the Vanier Cup hangover and finding their groove.

"The 2016 edition of the Montreal Carabins are going to have their own identity," said head coach Danny Maciocia. "We were still able to keep the foundation for the most part in place for this year's team, but every year, every team develops its own identity. We still feel like we're going to be competitive, we still feel like we'll have an opportunity to win football games on a weekly basis, but obviously it's an edition that's going to be finding its own identity."

"For the most part, it's a new slate. We've got some new guys in here and some talented young men and they're going to have an opportunity to establish themselves within the Carabins family," Maciocia continued.

But the two top teams from the 2014 campaign aren't the only ones with question marks.

The Windsor Lancers have lost the stellar quarterback in Austin Kennedy and their weaponry in Evan Pszczonak — and felt the impact of it in an embarrassing 76-7 loss to the highly-skilled Western Mustangs.

The list is endless of changes, modifications and improvements — making week one's Top 10 pick one of the hardest across the board for voters.

The only confident prediction may be to say the Western Mustangs — permitted they stay healthy — could be a great contender for the Vanier Cup.

But with the OUA as the only conference that has opened up play, it'll be interesting to see who comes forward from the rest of the league — and lifts the coveted trophy.

Shelby's first week Top 10:
1) Montreal
2) McMaster
3) Western
4) Laval
5) Guelph
6) Manitoba
7) Mount Allison
8) Calgary
9) Saskatchewan
10) UBC

CIS first week Top 10:
1. Montreal (-)
2. Laval (-)
3. Western (-)
4. Calgary (-)
5. McMaster (-)
6. Guelph (-)
7. UBC(-)
8. Saskatchewan (-)
9. Mount Allison (-)
10. Manitoba (-)

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1 comment:

  1. Shelby might re-set her rankings after UBC crushes Laval, and Calgary tops UBC 49-16 ! Give the West their due. No TV games this week? Is this just a U.S. Open Tennis interruption, or are we deprived this season ?