A profitable strategy on the ground

A paying ground strategy

DAY

The strategy of betting on a committee of running backs paid off big in the last game against Concordia, as the Laval University Rouge et Or ground attack had by far its best outing of the season.

After amassing 210 yards against the Stingers, who rely on rather light tacklers, will the Rouge et Or opt for the same approach on Sunday afternoon, when the McGill Redbirds will be visiting PEPS?

“We have good carriers and it's important to have a good rotation,” said offensive coordinator Justin Éthier. I had moved away from that in the previous two games. Each wearer has their own style. Usage may vary from game to game, but I trust all the guys. »

“I'm very happy with how our four carriers performed,” continued Éthier. Regardless of the score, the goal was for all four to see action early in the game. Three played in the first half and Angel [Vital] got on board early in the third quarter. »

Gabriel Leblond took advantage of the return to the rotation. “By betting on a good rotation, we had good results, underlined the product of the Faucons de Lévis-Lauzon. We each have our strengths and I imagine that it is more difficult for the opposing defenses to defend. »

Patience rewarded

Left aside throughout the 2021 campaign, Leblond is taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to him. 

“I was warned that I would have to be patient when recruiting and I expected not to not play at all last year, he said. There were four veterans in front of me. It was hard to just practice, but I had a good development to bridge the gap between college and university. »

The latter took the opportunity to familiarize himself with the playbook and keep in shape. “If some had problems being able to train during COVID, this was not my case, continues Leblond. I trained at home and gained 20 lbs. I had been waiting for two years and I was really happy when I played my first game against Sherbrooke.

Éthier said he was pleasantly surprised by Leblond's start to the season, who amassed 110 yards on 14 carries in two games. Dressed for the first four games, he did not see any offensive action at McGill and Montreal.

Beyond expectations

“He performs beyond the guy we had recruited, acknowledged the Laval offensive coordinator. We recruited him late because we were not convinced and, obviously, we were wrong in our initial assessment. He had been warned that he would not have a role in his first year. He didn't say a word and he trained hard with the scout team. It's all to his credit. »

Does Leblond feel additional pressure to do well, since he doesn't touch the ball so often? . When I'm on the pitch, I only think about doing well. It motivates me even more. I am very satisfied with my start to the season. This is the start I wanted. I also showed that I could contribute on special teams. »

Return of Muganda

Absent against Concordia due to an ankle injury, Kalenga Muganda will be back in action. As for Angel Vital, who faced the Stingers very well in his first career game, he will be conspicuous by his absence due to a an injury.

The Rouge et Or will dress five carriers for the first time this season because Émile Malenfant will be playing his first game.

Justin Éthier strikes relief

For the first time in his long association with the Rouge et Or, offensive coordinator Justin Éthier gave the speech following the last practice before the game.

Justin Ethier, offensive coordinator

Due to the absence of head coach Glen Constantin, who will return to his position for the game against McGill, Éthier spoke in front of all the players as his boss does after each practice. 

“Glen warned us on Friday, but the players didn't know it,” said Éthier. It's the first time, but it's not a big deal. »

Éthier emphasized the importance of providing a good show for fans and taking full advantage of each local game to give full performance, regardless of the opponent and the score at the half. “The stage is here pointing to the bleachers and the stage was still there in the second half of the match against Concordia even if the result was known. »

Receiver to watch

While receiver Darius Simmons is the Redbirds' biggest threat when he's in uniform, William Langlais caused the Rouge et Or a lot of headaches in the first game between the two teams, with seven receptions for 152 yards.

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“I didn't remember him in 2021, but he's an excellent athlete,” said defensive back Maxym Lavallée. During the game at McGill, I quickly realized that he was very good. He is very meticulous in his drawings. Confronted with him on several occasions, I found that he is very versatile. »

Changes

Some players will play their first game in the university ranks and others, their first of the season.

Defensive end Alias ​​Amelin and linebacker Nathan Vivier, two products of the Vanier Cheetahs, will live their baptism of the university ranks, as will offensive lineman Samuel Faucher. Vivier replaces Alexandre Knox, who is injured.

The Rouge et Or had outfitted the same seven offensive linemen since the start of the season, but an ankle injury to center Nicolas Thibodeau in the last game necessitated the entry of Faucher.

Injured in an ankle during the first game against Sherbrooke, receiver Andrew Menzies will be back in the game.

The cards are being shuffled at the cornerbacks

Arnaud Laporte changes position and a 1st start for Hugo LaRue this season

Author of three interceptions this season, a peak in the RSEQ, cornerback Arnaud Laporte will have a new challenge to face on Sunday afternoon, against the McGill Redbirds.

Starting from the wide side of the field since the start of the season, Laporte will play on the short side due to the absence of Nicolas Lessard, who was injured in the last game against the Concordia Stingers.

“It's a good challenge and I'm looking forward to it,” said Laporte. There are more passing and tracing concepts on the short side and you shouldn't miss a step. There is less space to cover, but the game moves faster. I played on the short side during my years at Thetford Mines and I feel ready. »

Laporte is happy with his start to the season and, above all, with his progress. “I understand the assignments faster because I have already seen the situations that arise,” he said. There is a good progression between my first season and my second. I have to make sure to finalize the details and not repeat the same mistakes.

Arnaud Laporte during the game against the McGill Redbirds earlier this season.

Laporte proudly wears the number 13 that his compatriot Souleymane Karamoko wore during his career with the Rouge et Or. “The French industry is doing well,” he said with a smile. And Billy [Jonas Pernier] wears the number 14 that I had last year. » 

French too, Jonas Pernier played with the Filons in Thetford Mines before coming to Laval.

Second career start

For his part, Hugo LaRue will get his second career start. He will take Laporte's place on the wide side of the field. 

A victim of a torn anterior cruciate ligament last year at Concordia, when he got his first career start, LaRue is finally returned to action on Sunday, against those same Stingers.

“I am very, very happy to be back, underlined the product of the Faucons de Lévis-Lauzon. I am feverish and excited to find myself as a starter. Against Concordia, I had a good match and I felt comfortable. I had two sets early in the game and played the second half. I have confidence in my abilities. »

Delayed return

However, the recovery took longer than expected, as he thought he was physically ready for the first game of the season. “It was related to my injury last year, but it was resolved quickly when they found the problem. I've been ready since the bye week and I have no sequelae,” explained LaRue.

Does he feel additional pressure to perform on his first start this season? “I don't feel any stress,” he said. I would like to do a little more, but I have proven in five years my value to coaches. »

Annoyed by a virus that caused him to miss the visit to Concordia, Cristophe Beaulieu returns to his starting position as defensive back on the wide side.