CIS-Con: Montréal Alouettes put Philippe Gagnon right into the fire

(Over the next few days, this blog will do its best to give a rundown on how CIS alumni figure into the grand scheme for each CFL team. Friendly reminder: the ratio in the CFL requires each team to have seven 'nationals' among the 24 defensive and offensive starters. It should be 10, five on each side of the ball, but one battle at a time ... one battle at a time.)

Boris Bede, apart from international tournaments, has played all of his football in Quebec with Laval and the Als. Yet by rule, the Alouettes kicker and punter counts as an international. Figure that out.

Pardon the soap-boxing, but yes, there should be some reworking of the definition of a national player to include those who received their amateur football training in Canada. Who knows, it might help the profile of CIS if players in Europe know there is a country and a league they could adapt to better than the US of A.

Of course, accommodating an anomaly such as Bede is the least of Montreal's issues, which appear to be many. Revolving door at quarterback! Callow offensive line tasked with keeping the 37-year-old QB1 upright for 18 games! A good general manager whose hiring searches for a coach begin, and end, by looking in the mirror! Game presentation that puts off female fans! Those are all agenda items for other blogs.

As far as the CIS guys are concerned, the big take-home is the Alouettes have Philippe Gagnon starting at guard fresh out of Laval. Thank you for not making parallels between that personnel move and how Ottawa had 2015 No. 1 overall pick Alex Mateas work in as a backup after being drafted out from the D-1 Connecticut Huskies.

Fun fact: the Alouettes' roster includes players from five RSEQ schools. The one not represented also plays home games at Molson Stadium.

Receivers / backs — Veteran wide-side Samuel Giguère (Sherbrooke) and Kyle Graves (Acadia, where he was a quarterback) are the lone homegrown receivers. Both fullbacks, Jean-Christophe Beaulieu (Sherbrooke) and James Tuck (York), are out of CIS.

Former McMaster tailback Wayne Moore is below prolific Tyrell Sutton on the depth chart. Moore, of course, had a 50-yard touchdown run in the 2014 Vanier Cup at Molson Stadium.

Offensive line — Veteran Kristian Matte (Concordia) has moved to centre, next to 23-year-old yearling Gagnon (Laval). Teams tend not to rush a rookie Canadian lineman into the lineup, and yet here we are.

Jake Piotrowski (Guelph) is listed as a backup at guard. Ryan White (Bishop's) has had his issues remaining healthy, but has a skill-set to play tackle and be potential ratio-helper.  Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, one of countless familiar faces on the Als who is on the other side of age 30, is on the injured list.

Defensive front seven — Following a serviceable NFL career, Vaughn Martin (Western) has come home and should be the national on the D-line, tying up blockers to create favourable situations for sack-meister John Bowman (19 last season).

Michael Klassen (Calgary) and Jeffrey Finley (Guelph) are the young national backup DLs.

At the secondeur level, Montreal has four internationals who are 29 or older. Nicolas Boulay (Sherbrooke), Jean-Samuel Blanc (Montréal), Chris Ackie (Laurier) and Nick Shortill (McMaster) range in age from 26 to 23. Essentially, it looks like the Als like to add one Canadian linebacker each season, but don't necessarily expect him to start.

Defensive secondary Marc-Olivier Brouillette (Montréal) has put out his shingle at safety. Fellow Les Bleus alum Anthony Coady and Daryl Townsend (Windsor) are listed beneath him at a spot usually given to Canadians.

Andrew Lue (Queen's), an oversized D-halfback who is valuable on special teams, is on the six-game injured list.

Specialists — Bede is going it alone. Party like it's October 1995. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he has a big leg and rates a chance to show he can handle a dual role.
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