The Concordia Stingers football team has had a… tough start to the season.
With a bye-week, now’s a good a time as any to take a look at where the team stands so far this season.
Three games, three losses.
In week one, the Stingers showed up big against the UDEM Carabins, losing a tight game 10-3.
In week two against McGill, the Stingers couldn’t get a vital win. What could have been a chance to pick up a invaluable points for the team’s playoff hopes instead turned into a 40-14 blowout loss.
In week three, the Stingers played defending U Sports national champions, perennial powerhouses and straight up bullies in the Laval Rouge et Or. That game ended with the Stingers on the wrong side of a 41-6 result.
In the RSEQ division, wins against the Laval and UDEM are almost impossible to come by. Concordia last beat Montreal in a regular season game in 2008. Concordia hasn’t beaten Laval since 2003. Beating McGill and Sherbrooke is the key to making it past the regular season.
After splitting the series with McGill into two tight games last season, getting blown out by them stings.
Those have been the results of the games so far, with five games left (including one game apiece against Laval and Montreal), the Stingers still have a chance to make playoffs. It’s also important to note that Concordia has had to face Laval and Montreal in their first three games, two of the toughest teams in the country, let alone the division. The stats don’t look great, but it might be fairer to chalk up some of the team stats to a tough early schedule. It’s not far off to predict a lot of those stats will even out by the end of the year and the team finishing middle-of-the-pack/high in a number of offensive and defensive categories.
It seems like a good place to look at the team stats. After the end of Week 4, every team in the division has played at least three games. So far, the team ranked last in the RSEQ in: scoring offense, scoring defense, turnover margin (-5), rushing offense and defense, total defense, 1st downs allowed (67), sacks (2), sacks allowed (13), red zone offense (4/6) and red zone defense (8/8). On a more positive note, they are currently first in the division in pass offense.
New defensive and offensive coordinators Ed Philion and Alex Suprenant were given a tough gig to plan for Laval and Montreal so early in the season. With their upcoming game against Sherbrooke, the team has a chance to build some momentum.
In terms of individual performances, this season’s been a bit all over the place. Quarterback Adam Vance has thrown for 666 yards so far, completing 55 of 94 pass attempts for a 58.5 completion percentage, slightly above his 56.4 per cent completion rate from last season. But so far, no touchdown passes yet. He’s also thrown four interceptions. Tough to blame him, he’s been sacked 13 times in just three games, most of any quarterbacks in the division. And when he’s not getting sacked, he’s taking hits as soon as the ball leaves his hand.
For the receivers, this year has been one of growth. The loss of last year’s leading receiver Jarryd Taylor, and Vince Alessandrini not dressing for games yet has opened up roster spots and more receptions for other players. Fifth-year veteran James Tyrrell has stepped up into the #1 receiver role seamlessly. Through the first three games of the season, he has 18 receptions for 252 yards. Rookie Jeremy Murphy has 14 receptions for 177 yards. Fifth-year Sam Nadon has 10 receptions for 115 yards. Again, no touchdowns yet.
The run game hasn’t caught its stride yet. Against Laval, in a game where the rain made it difficult to pass the ball and the run game became vital, the team only managed 36 yards on 20 attempts. Glody Musangu has been the team’s first-string running back for the start of the season, collecting 111 yards on 32 attempts.
Defense has also struggled so far, but again, they played Laval and Montreal. There aren’t a lot of teams in the country who have shown to be able to slow them down besides each other. Zamaad Gambari leads the team in tackles with 16.5. He’s followed by defensive stalwarts Jersey Henry (13.5) and Sam Brodrique (13). Wael Nasri and Khadeem Pierre have also stepped up, with Nasri recording 7.5 tackles in a gutsy performance against Laval. The rushing defense had a difficult time so far, allowing 585 yards and five touchdowns so far. That’s 195 allowed run yards a game.
On special teams, kicker Andrew Stevens has continued to be reliable and is 5/7 on field goal attempts so far this season. Kick and punt returner Kevin Foster has arguably been the most dangerous player on the team so far, and he has the team’s only touchdown. On 14 punt returns, he has 190 yards, including that massive 74-yard touchdown run that earned him U Sports special teams Player-of-the-Week honours.
As the team prepares for their upcoming game against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, the Stingers are left in a difficult situation. They’re 0-3, last in the division, and their playoff hopes depend on them being able to win at least three games. At least one of those wins has to come against McGill in order to make up for their Week 2 loss. That playoff spot is still within reach.
The Stingers have had a tough start to the year, but their bye-week probably came at the perfect time. It offers a chance to regroup and focus on finishing the year strong.
Feature photo by Laurence B-D