A happy problem

A happy problem

DAY

It's an unusual scenario that awaits the Rouge et Or to end its season on Saturday, at Concordia against the Stingers. Firstly because the match will have absolutely no stakes, but also because these two teams will meet the following week in the Quebec semi-finals. 

The defeat of the Carabins de Montréal last Saturday sealed the fate of the Rouge et Or, who were crowned regular season champions without having to lift a finger. Same thing for the Stingers, guaranteed to finish in fourth place.

Head coach Glen Constantin readily admits, “it's a beautiful problem” that he and his coaching staff face. On the one hand, they prepare players for a “no stakes” game. But on the other, “you still have to do enough to beat a good team. »

This is why the big boss of the Rouge et Or speaks of a “balance” to be found since a game plan is needed “for this week and another for next week”.

“It's a nice problem to have. You don't need to use your rosters until the last minute to earn a spot in the playoffs or move up the leaderboard. »

“Progressing”

It is understandable that Glen Constantin will want to offer his players a little respite, but not too much. They have just returned from a week off. “Being inactive for two or even three weeks, I think it's a bit too much,” he said. 

“As I say to the players, we have earned the right to have this luxury of progressing in a context where there is not really any challenge or stress as such. What is important for us is to go into the playoffs with the feeling of being on the right track and making progress. »

“Progress”. The word came up several times Thursday noon in Glen Constantin's speech, who clarified that progress is not measured only by impressive statistics.

“Progress is not measured by 60 points,” he said, referring to his team's 60-14 score when the Stingers played at TELUS-UL Stadium on September 25.

“It's really how we're going to play, how we're going to do things on the pitch. Execution is going to be super important to us. »

And he also wants to keep some ammunition in reserve. No question of unpacking all his arsenal at the end of the week. “I want to keep a certain packagefor the playoff game and I think it's the same for Concordia. »

Heartbreaking choice

In addition, a heartbreaking choice awaits Glen Constantin the day after this last game of the regular schedule. By Sunday morning, he will have to submit a single nomination for the RSEQ Most Valuable Player award.

Pass receiver Kevin Mital and quarterback Arnaud Desjardins are at the top of the list to receive the prestigious honor. “Yes, it is tough. It's really not an easy situation. We will have to choose which player we want between Kevin and Arnaud. I find it flat. You have a league MVP, you have a defense MVP, but no defense MVP. […] We will discuss it with the staff. »

The Rouge et Or climbed to second place in the U Sports Top 10 this week. He is beaten only by the Western Mustangs (8-0)… Kevin Mital needs to catch two touchdown passes to equal the Quebec record of 12, a feat achieved by Alexander Fox and Rob Harrod… The The Rouge et Or's last loss at Concordia dates back to October 4, 2003, a 38-30 loss… Receiver Mathieu Hudon, injured during the game against the Montreal Carabins, will not be back in uniform… 

The time to send a message

“By going there, we want to send a message [so] that they won't be tempted to come back to Quebec in two weeks. »

Saturday's game may be without stakes, William Desgagné and his defensive line buddies have no intention of playing the tourists and easily giving up a piece of ground to the Stingers. 

< p>The Rouge et Or defensive unit has allowed just seven touchdowns in seven games this season. 

And three of those games ended without the opponent scoring a major . It would be a bad time to slow down, believes veteran Desgagné, especially at the dawn of the playoffs. 

“We said to ourselves on Tuesday that we wanted to end the season on the right foot. »

With the 2022 season about to end, the Champlain College-Lennoxville Cougars product remains satisfied with the job the defense has done. 

He cites in particular the way the team has reacted after winning 37-20 at McGill.

“We were really not happy with our performance. I think we responded well to that match and what we have seen in the last few weeks, on the ground we are still solid and we have a lot of help from the secondary. »

“Perform despite everything”

Quarterback Arnaud Desjardins also underlined the special nature of these two meetings in two weeks against Concordia. 

Saturday , he will be in uncharted territory since he doesn't believe he was involved in a “no-stakes” game like the one that is coming up. But in the end, it “changes nothing to our preparation”, he warns.

“The beauty of football is that we play ten games a year. […] All occasions are good to do what you love. We want to perform despite everything.

And perform, he had done well in the first duel between the two teams. The pivot had thrown five touchdown passes and amassed aerial gains of 364 yards. 

Repeat the feat

Desjardins will not have – there may not be time to repeat the feat on Saturday, especially if Glen Constantin decides to rest his main assets for part of the match. 

“Of course it could be cool to start the game really well to be able to get as many people playing as possible,” said Desjardins. 

“You never want to go into the playoffs with a loss”

Brad Collinson during a Stingers practice.

The Concordia Stingers' “goal number one” is achieved with a guaranteed playoff spot. Now all we have to do is find a way to beat the Rouge et Or in order to extend the season.

It's not going to be an easy task for head coach Brad Collinson and his players, but the good news is that they have two games to get there. 

“You don't never want to go into the playoffs with a loss. The goal remains to win, confirms the one who has led the Stingers since 2018. But it's interesting to see them again the week after. It gives us a week of preparation against them and the week after, we will build our game plan with what we will have seen. »

Collinson, however, has something to build on. His team won its second victory of the season last week. And she did it with panache, in a spectacular end to the game. 

The 37-30 overtime win against the McGill Redbirds gives them a good dose of confidence, says Collinson.&nbsp ;

We just want to continue to build on our last victory and progress to be ready for the playoffs next week. Because we will meet again next week. »

Positive

Another positive in the Stingers camp, the return to play of fifth-year wide receiver Jacob Salvail will add a little more spice to an already threatening aerial attack with the Jaylan Greaves and Jeremy Murphy.

Salvail returned to action last week and didn't look rusty with 12 receptions, 141 yards and an overtime-winning touchdown.

“He is a veteran who brings leadership to us. Last week he did well. […] It is certain that when everyone is healthy and that we can have everyone on the field, it is more difficult for the defenses to cover one on one or the brackets< /em> with two guys on another player. It opens up the playbook a bit more. »

Still progress

Like Glen Constantin during his press briefing on Thursday, Brad Collinson also spoke of progress during the interview with Le Journal

He had good words for his players, who “progressed” at an interesting pace during the fall. He also praises the attitude of his veterans, who act as true “leaders in the team” “Even in the less good times, the players kept their morale positive. We always wanted to have that energy, even in practice.

“The players have done a really good job of keeping everyone on the same page and progressing from week to week. »