2014 CIS Football Team Preview: McGill Redmen

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Source: Earl Zukerman, McGill Sports Info / Photocredit Derek Drummond, McGill Athletics &Recreation

2013 regular season record: 3-5
2013 regular season standings: 5th in RSEQ
2013 playoff record: n/a

The McGill Redmen have embarked upon their 134th season offootball and will officially open the campaign with a road game atSherbrooke on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m.

The Redmen are coming off a 3-5 fifth-place finish in thesix-team RSEQ conference. Head coach Clint Uttley has returned forhis fourth season behind the Redmen bench. His opening-day rosterwill feature 43 returnees (nine seniors, 16 juniors, 18 sophomores)to go along with 33 freshmen.

After beginning their campaign with a 35-33 pre-seasonroad victory over the Toronto Varsity Blues on Aug. 23, McGill isslated to play Laval (8-0), Concordia (0-8) and Sherbrooke (3-5)twice apiece, with single contests against Bishop’s (6-2) andMontreal (5-3). The post-season begins on Nov. 8, culminated by the50th presentation of the Vanier Cup national championship atMcGill’s Percival Molson Stadium, Nov. 29.

The Redmen have lost nine starters, two of them on offence, mostnotably all-Canadian offensive tackle and CIS lineman of the yearLaurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was a sixth-round draft choice of theNFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. On defence, key losses among the sevenstarters were a pair of senior linebackers who were selected in theCFL Draft, namely Jesse Briggs (Winnipeg) and Alexandre Bernard(Ottawa).

“We have a young committed team, improved our strength andconditioning and had a solid recruiting year, so I am expecting theteam to be very much in contention for a playoff berth,” saysUttley.

The offensive side of McGill’s game is expected to be solidunder the guidance of offensive coordinator Patrick Boies, who willutilize a five-receiver package, buttressed by a veteran offensiveline to protect quarterbacks Dallon Kuprowski and Joel Houle, inaddition to all-conference running back Luis Guimont-Mota.

Kuprowski, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound pivot from Kanata, Ont., wasinvited to the CIS East-West Bowl last spring. With the Redmen, hebecame a starter in his freshman year but converted to receivermidway through his sophomore campaign. He sat out his junior yearwith injuries. Over his collegiate career, he has completed 81 of153 attempts (52.9%) for 844 yards, one touchdown and seveninterceptions. He has also rushed 37 times for 163 yards, a 4.4average and one TD.

He will be challenged by Houle, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound all-starpivot from CEGEP Div. 3, where he was named twice as the league’smost outstanding offensive player while playing for College deValleyfield. Waiting in the wings to step in is sophomorePierre-Luc Moquin who starred with College Edouard-Montpetit.

Pacing the attack at running back is the aforementionedGuimont-Mota, a shifty, 5-foot-8, 182-pound junior, who led theconference in rushing with 824 yards on 147 carries, a 5.6 averageand four TDs. One sophomore expected to see significant work is5-foot-11, 185-pound speedster Pelle Jorgen (21 carries, 149 yds,7.1 avg, one TD).

Leading the receivers will diminutive seniors Jean-PhilippePaquette (5’5″, 160) and Yannick Langelier-Vanasse (5’8, 185), bothof whom possess explosive speed and also pose a double-threat asreturn specialists.

Paquette was voted team MVP last year after snaring 38receptions for 546 yards, a 14.4 avg., and two TDs. He also led theteam in all-purpose yards, averaging 129 per game on 78touches.
Langelier-Vanasse caught 19 catches for 210 yards and one TD as asophomore and led the Redmen in all-purpose yards during hisfreshman year, averaging 117.4 yards per game on a combined 70touches.

Other key receivers include three sophomores Casey Cook –who led the team last fall with 42 receptions for 696 yards, a 16.6average and a pair of TDs – Damian Massey-Hirt (28 rec., 266yds., 9.5 avg., 1 TD) and Pascal Tshilambo (21 rec., 324 yds., 15.4avg., 2 TDs). One freshman to watch for is Simon Gingras-Gagnon, asix-foot, 204-pound tight-end from College Garneau in QuebecCity.

The overall kicking game is a bit of an unknown factor with theloss of veteran place-kicker Samy Rassy (Punting: 77 times for a36.1 avg., Field-Goals: 15/20, Longest: 37). Battling to start areNils Jonkmans, a senior from Deep River, Ont., and freshman MykeDaignault-Labarre out of College Edouard-Montpetit.

A rebuilt offensive line features left tackle Pierre-OlivierDaloze, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound senior, freshman left guard CedricVinet (6-4, 275), junior centre Terence Gamit (6-1, 265),freshman right guard Brock Mould (6-1, 326) and senior right tackleFrederic Methot (6-2, 275). Waiting in the wings are threehighly-touted sophomores in Qadr Spooner (6-5, 295), Tim Mitchell(6-5, 285) and Nicolas Bertrand (6-0, 300).

On defence, there will be some questions to answer for newdefensive coordinator Ronald Hilaire in the wake of losing thefive-leading tacklers from last year. Key losses includelinebackers Alexandre Bernard (48.5 tackles, one TFL, 2knockdowns), Zachary Lord (44 tackles, one INT), Chris O’Kill (43tackles, 2 KD), Jesse Briggs (40 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 QB sacks, oneINT, two KDs) and Stephan Osman (32 tackles, one INT).

A young defensive line features a talented group, led bysophomore defensive end Carl Laverdiere (6-0, 230) and junior DEDevon Stewart (5-11, 231) who played in the 2014 CIS East-West Bowland has moved over from running back. At tackle is junior KadeemLewis (6-1, 285) and rookie Ousmane Guindo (5’11, 235). Another tosee action will be senior Olivier Cain-Tremblay (6-3, 265). Amongthe freshmen expected to stand out are Jean-Michel Elie (6-0, 237)out of College du Vieux-Montreal and Edouard-Andrew Joseph (5-9,215) of College Montmorency.

The youthful linebacking corps, will include sophomores GabrielPoisson (5-10, 210; OLB) and Eric Gracioppo (6-1, 235; MLB) andsophomore Charles-William Tremblay (5-11, 205; OLB).

A rebuilt defensive backfield will feature junior NicholasGaudreault (5-10, 179), sophomores Alexandre Lefebvre-Tardif (1INT) and David Polynice (6-3, 175), along with a pair of freshmen– Mack Dessources (5-8, 180) out of College Ahuntsic andMalundu Bukasa (5-9, 170) who played junior ball in St.Leonard.

Other expected to battle for playing time include senior SimonLamontagne (5-11, 200) and junior Maxime Chaput-Dupuy (5-8,180).

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