At the bye

The Lancers football team has shown flashes of brilliance through the first three quarters of the OUA season. With one game remaining until the Vanier Cup playoffs, questions still remain about the ceiling of the 4-3 squad who recently entered the CIS top 10.

Photo by Alex D’addese.
Photo by Alex  D’addese.

Photo by Alex D’addese.

Mike Specht

Sports Editor

The Lancers football team has shown flashes of brilliance through the first three quarters of the OUA season.  With one game remaining until the Vanier Cup playoffs, questions still remain about the ceiling of the 4-3 squad who recently entered the CIS top 10.

2013 in many ways has been two sides of the same coin for Windsor, who prior to some notable injuries looked primed to contend for a top spot in the conference; especially after their 77-11 drubbing of Waterloo.

Consecutive losses to Guelph and Queens put the team at 1-2 and following injuries to DB Josh Burns and WR Evan Pszczonak, there was major concern in Lancer Nation.

“We’ve got some guys banged up and it was tough with the strike and not having access to physio therapy,” said Coach Joe D’Amore

Following a rough start the Lancers rattled off three straight against Toronto, Carleton and Laurier but were hit by the injury bug against when starting quarterback Austin Kennedy went down to a knee injury.

When healthy, AK12 is an elite player who can hurt defenses through the air and on the ground.  Through week three this season Kennedy led the OUA in all passing and rushing categories.  But since the injury Kennedy has not been comfortable running the football.  Kennedy has rushed for -5 yards, in the last two weeks and he had 374 yards rushing in the 5 games prior.

“The doctor had a look at him, stability wise, and said there doesn’t appear to be any major damage,” said D’Amore, after the injury.

Despite “stability” in the knee, the numbers don’t lie.  In the blowout loss to Western, the Lancer offense was lethargic, punting the ball a season high ten times while averaging .83 yards per rush.

The ripple effect of the Kennedy injury has been enormous; without the threat of a quarterback run, the top ranked Mustang’s defence was able to cue in on Mitch Dender and Gilbert Stewart who combined for a net gain of 20 yards.

The result provided a blueprint for how to stop the Lancer offence with a hobbled Kennedy: force them to be one dimensional and wait for a bad pass.  Western was able to do exactly that hauling in three interceptions on the day.

“The pick in the end zone was obviously a bad decision, but we threw two other ‘pick sixes’ and one got returned to the one. That’s a 21 point turn around in a game we lost by 28 points. So sometimes players don’t realize earlier in the game the ramifications of certain plays till it’s too late, because of the domino affect,” noted D’Amore.

The Lancer defense has been a rock all season, heading into the Western game was ranked second in the OUA and despite allowing 39 points to the Mustang’s, sits third in total defense.  With 22 total sacks and 14 forced turnovers, this group is opportunistic and more than capable of keeping the offense in a game.

Fatigue may catch up with this group if the offense is unable to extend drives, as it did against Western.  The D sacked quarterback Will Finch five times while forcing four fumbles but was susceptible to big plays after several offensive 3 and outs.

The bye week has afforded the blue and gold time to heal.  With a tough matchup against the fifth place Ottawa Gee Gee’s next Saturday, The Lancers will need all of its gears running smoothly if they hope to secure a playoff date at Alumni Field.

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