Uteck and Mitchell Bowl Preview
Mitchell Bowl - McMaster Marauders vs Calgary Dinos
In Saturday’s upcoming Mitchell bowl matchup the Canada West Champion, Calgary Dinos will host the OUA Champion, McMaster Marauders. Both McMaster and Calgary finished the 2019 regular season as nationally ranked teams, McMaster finishing as the fourth ranked team and Calgary finishing as the eighth ranked team. The McMaster Marauders and Calgary Dinos are two of U Sports Football’s perennial powerhouses. The last meeting between Calgary and McMaster saw the Marauders claim a 45-6 win over the Dinos in the 2012 Mitchell Bowl.
When studying each teams offence one thing became abundantly clear, each teams offence is eerily similar to the other. In terms of both scheme and statistics the similarities between the McMaster offence and the Calgary offence is striking.
The Dinos like to spread out their receivers and try to use a lot of deep and crossing routes to try and pull defenders out of coverage and pick up big chunk plays downfield throwing outside of the numbers or between the hashes. Similarly, the Marauders like to use a lot of four by one receiver sets and crossing patterns to open the field. Marauders QB, Andreas Dueck completed 200 of his 301 passing attempts in 2019 for 2431 yards, 15 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions.
In seven games Dinos QB, Adam Sinagra completed 159 of 256 attempts for 2014 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Though Sinagra has lower numbers when looking at the stat sheet, I believe that the Dinos possess the quarterback advantage. Adam Sinagra is an incredibly cerebral quarterback who makes the correct read in almost every situation. Sinagra has one of the strongest arms in U Sports and has the arm talent to place the ball wherever he wants. Sinagra is a special talent with incredible athletic ability, which is in part what propelled him to winning the Hec Creighton trophy just a season ago.
Both the Marauders and the Dinos have the capability to run the ball, however neither team has implemented the ground game as a focal point in their offensive scheming. The Marauders rushed the ball 176 times for 1026 yards and 8 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. The Dinos ran the ball only marginally more than the Marauders, 192 rushing attempts for 1091 yards and 8 scores. Each team incorporates the run game as a compliment to their passing attack, rather than as a focus for offensive game planning. What is interesting about the Calgary run game is the use of back up quarterback Josiah Jospeh.
Joseph carried the ball 25 times in the regular season for 116 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. Joseph is an extremely athletic ball carrier who has sneaky elusive ability, Joseph isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body in order to make a play.
Offensively Calgary has the advantage. They have a talented quarterback with significant playoff experience. Calgary also holds the advantage on the offensive line. Calgary’s offensive line gives Sinagra the time needed to analyze the defence and make the proper read. In the run game the Calgary linemen almost always get a get first push that allows Dinos ballcarriers to remain patient and not have to worry about being met by a defender in the backfeild. While the offensive similarities are uncanny, Calgary does hold the advantage in QB play and offensive line play.
The McMaster Marauders boasted, in my opinion, the best defensive unit in the OUA for the 2019 regular season. The Marauders defence finished the season with 14 defensive interceptions, 27 sacks, 2 recovered fumbles and a defensive score. During the regular season the Mac defence allowed just 18.9 points per game while surrendering an average of just 116.9 yards on the ground and 209.6 yards in the air.
The Marauders have a gritty front seven highlighted by linebackers, Nate Edwards and Eryk Bujalski. The Marauders pass rush does a great job of staying disciplined and breaking up the design of an opposing offence. The play from the McMaster front seven has allowed the Marauder secondary to feast on an abundance of poor decisions made by panicked quarterbacks. The Marauders secondary is one of the best in the country, they have defensive backs who are quick, sticky, and can man-up and run with any receiver in the country.
The Marauder defence was able to hold the number one ranked Western Mustangs to just 15 points in the Yates Cup final and picked off one of the country’s best quarterbacks twice. The Marauder defence is no joke and is going to be a significant challenge for the Calgary Dinos in this weekend’s Mitchell Bowl.
Across the field on the other sideline the Calgary Dino’s have a defence that is equally as talented as the Marauder defence. In the 2019 regular season the Dinos were able to pile up 11 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, 13 sacks and 3 defensive touchdowns. The Dinos defensive strength is their secondary. The Dinos have a strong secondary and like to play a lot of man coverages in behind their pass rush. The Dinos Secondary is headlined by defensive back, Deane Leonard who finished the season with 4 interceptions.
The Dinos secondary is long, athletic, and fast. They pride themselves on being sound in coverage and being able to keep routes infront of them. However, a less than aggressive front seven often means that opposing quarterbacks have time to throw and defensive backs can’t be expected to stay in coverage for twenty seconds on every passing play.
I believe that the Marauders have the overall better defensive unit. McMasters aggressive front seven allows for sound coverage from the defensive backs on the back end. The strength of the Marauder defence is forcing opposing quarterbacks to play scared and reactionary, which often times results in the Maruders finishing games with multiple takeaways. Expect the Mac defence to come out flying right from the opening kick-off in Saturday’s Mitchell Bowl.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB - ANDREAS DUECK
RB - JUSTICE ALLIN
DB - NOAH HALLET
LB - ERYK BUJALSKI
LB - NATE EDWARDS
QB - ADAM SINAGRA
WR - JALEN PHILPOT
RB - ROBINSON RODRIGUES
DB - DEANE LEONARD
LB - GRANT MCDONALD
Uteck Bowl - Montreal Carabins vs Acadia Axemen
This Saturday’s Uteck Bowl matchup will feature the Montreal Carabins travelling to Wolfville, Nova Scotia to square-off against the Acadia Axemen. The Carabin are fresh off of a 25-10 upset victory on the road against the Laval Rouge Et Or in the Dunsmore Cup. The Acadia Axemen won the Loney Bowl in commanding fashion with a 31-1 victory over the Bishop’s Gaiters. Saturday’s matchup will feature one of the best running games in the nation going toe-to-toe with one of the best defences in the nation.
The Acadia Axemen proved time and time again throughout the 2019 U Sports football season that they were the best team in the Atlantic. The Axemen offence is centred around quarterback, Hunter Guenard. Guenard finished the 2019 regular season as one of the 5 best quarterbacks in the nation, completing 145 of his 244 passing attempts, throwing 2287 yards, and 16 touchdowns. Guenard is a smart quarterback who does a good job of reading defences before making them pay with pinpoint accuracy.
Guenard doesn’t have the strongest arm in the league, but he has one of the more accurate arms and certainly has the mental capacity necessary to play quarterback at a high level. Guenard is patent when standing in the pocket and doesn’t try forcing throws, which resulted in Guenard throwing the fewest interceptions of any U Sports starting quarterback (5).
Guenard’s favourite target all season has been Glodin Mulali, who finished the regular season reeling 42 catches for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns. Though Mulali was heavily defended in last weekends Loney Bowl. Against the Gaiters Mulali was limited to just 3 yards on 1 reception.
The Carabin shocked the country by travelling to Laval and badly beating the Rouge Et Or on their own turf. Throughout the playoffs the Carabin have been without starting quarterback, Dimitri Morand. McGill transfer, Frédéric Paquette-Perrault has assumed quarterback duties in place of Morand. Through the playoffs Paquette-Perrault has completed 25 of his 42 passing attempts, passing for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns. Given his limited snap count and playtime Paquette-Perrault is at a slight disadvantage in comparison to Hunter Guenard who has been the starting quarterback all season for the Axemen. Paquette-Perrault is athletic and talented, there’s no doubt about it, but the Montreal quarterback needs to do a better job of reading the field and progressing through his reads before passing.
Often times Paquette-Perrault is eager to throw the ball and almost threw into a few interceptions in both the game against McGill and against Laval. Paquette-Perrault is a more than capable quarterback, however I would like to see him slow the game down and not try to hit a home-run every time he throws the ball.
The Axemen hold the clear advantage in terms of a rushing attack. The Axemen have one of the bets running backs in the nation in Dale Wright, who had a big day against the Gaiters in last weekends Looney Bowl. Against the Gaiters, Wright rushed for 118 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries. In the regular season Wright carried the ball 143 times for the Axemen, accumulating 813 yards and punching in 8 touchdowns.
Dale Wright is a phenomenal running back with a wide skillset. Wright is the type of running back who has the finesse ability to plant a foot in the ground, make a defender miss, and gash the opposing defence for a big gain. He can also lower his shoulder and run through you if the first move doesn’t work. Wright is a powerful runner who isn’t often tackled or brought to the ground upon first contact. Away from the ball Wright is still an impactful player. In pass-protection Wright is noticeable, Wright does a good job of staying square, keeping his centre of gravity low and punishing any pass rushers trying to reach his quarterback.
Offensively Acadia has the edge over the Carabin. At the offensive skill positions quarterback Hunter Guenard, running back Dale Wright, and receiver Glodin Mulali all finished the 2019 U Sports regular season inside of the top five nationally for each of their respective positions. The Axemen have a talented offence and a strong ground game. The Axemen will be put to the test his weekend by on of the best defensive units in the country.
The Montreal Carabins are undoubtably one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Carabin defence has playmakers at all 12 positions and can squeeze the life out of teams before the first half is even over. In the Dunsmore Cup against the Rouge Et Or the Carabin defence was able to hold the second best team in the country out of the end zone for the first three quarters of play. Additionally the Carabin only allowed a single field goal until the Rouge Et Or finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Montreal defence is highlighted by a number of playmakers who finished inside of the top ten in each of the RSEQ’s defensive statistics categories. Defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy, who against Laval returned an interception 85 yards for a score. Dequoy is receiving hefty draft interest and will likely be on a CFL roster in the near future. Dequoy finished inside the top in the RSEQ for interceptions (3) and one interception return for a touchdown during the regular season.
Dequoy and the Carabin defensive secondary has proven to be nightmare for opposing offences and that will be no different this weekend against the Axemen. In addition to a strong secondary the Carabin front seven is equally as impressive. The Carabin have a number of powerful linemen and skilled linebackers who can both stuff the run and cover running backs releasing from the backfield. The Carabin defence does a phenomenal job of forcing turnovers and taking advantage of opportunities to score. Dequoy and company will be one of the first defensive tests the Axemen have had to face all season.
The Axemen defensive unit is certainly not as strong as their star-studded cast on offence. However, that does not mean that they don’t have skilled players on defence. The Acadia defence allowed just 20.6 points per game in the Atlantic conference this season, allowing an average of 106.5 rushing yards and 268.8 passing yards.
The Acadia defence totalled 12 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries, 19 sacks, and 3 defensive touchdowns. The Axemen defence is highlighted by the likes of Bailey Feltmate, who was an East-West Bowl participant and finished his 2019 with an impressive 58.5 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. Axemen defensive back, Rory Kelly was also a 2019 East-West participant who is a long, athletic and physical defender. The Axemen finished the season as the second ranked defence in the AUS and while they are not start-studded they do play tough defensive football.
The Carabin defensive unit holds the edge in this matchup over the Axemen. The Carabins have one of the best defences in the country and do an impressive job of taking the ball away from opposing offences. Marc-Antoine Dequoy will likely be covering down on the number one receiver for the Axemen, Glodin Mulali. The Montreal defence will have its handful with Guenard and Wright, but the Carabin proved last week that they are more than capable of going on the road and taking over a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB - HUNTER GUENARD
RB - DALE WRIGHT
WR - MULALI GLODIN
LB - BAILEY FELTMATE
DB - RORY KELLY
RB - RYTH-JEAN GIRAUD
DB - MARC-ANTOINE DEQUOY
DB - REDHA KRAMDI
LB - BENOIT MARION
LB - SAMUEL ROSSI
Connor O'Neil is a former UOttawa Gee-Gee defensive back with a passion for Canadian Football and a desire to stay connected to the game.