2015 CIS Football Preview: OUA Conference

oua-preview.fw

It is the largest conference in the CIS and one that many could see as one of the toughest to have any type of run through.

With so many teams involved every year the common thought could be that there is any number of teams that can find their way to the top.

After all university football is one where teams see plenty of turnover throughout multiple years and any team can have the right combination of recruits and veterans to take home the top prize.

That has not necessarily been the case over the last decade though as there have been teams that remain in the basement for years while two teams have dominated.

The Western Mustangs and McMaster Marauders have defied most expectations as they have remained strong for the better part of the last decade.

It is a little different from others as usually one team has been able to get through with a dominant stretch but in the largest conference everything is different.

The Marauders and the Mustangs have accounted for seven of the last eight OUA championships with only the Queen’s Gaels winning one in between.

Both schools have found the right recipe but one has been doing it a lot longer than the other.

The Mustangs have been one of the most consistent teams in the CIS, winning 30 Yates Cups in total.

The Marauders have only seven Yates Cups and most have come in more recent years rather than the Mustangs consistency over multiple decades.

Either way they have found a recipe for success much like the dominant teams in the West and in Quebec and have found their way to the championship more often than not.

When these teams make their way to the championship they often find success in a much bigger stage as well.

The Vanier Cup has often featured the championship team from the OUA with the Mustangs totalling twelve appearances in the national championship, three more than Laval.football-sidebar

The OUA is a different animal than most conferences and as good as the teams are in other conferences there are far less traps to fall into.

The best team in the OUA has to walk a gauntlet of great teams and teams they know they can beat but all the while must continue to focus.

Too often do teams see a group that they think they can easily beat and yet somehow find themselves struggling when they get on the field.

It takes a lot of focus for a team to work their way through a conference like the OUA and those that can do it often are successful outside of the conference.

It is a tough road to go through and somehow the Mustangs and the Marauders have figured out a way to go through that road and come out on top.

They will both be looking to do the same thing this year as they try to continue their recent successes.

There are plenty of other teams looking to make their own mark though and take home their own Yates Cup as they hope to end the reign of these two dominant teams.

Anything is possible in this conference and with the way the CIS worked out last year any team has a chance at taking home the top prize.

OUA Team Previews
cu-ravens.fw Carleton Ravens
2014 Record 4-4 (7th in OUA)
Strength Very Little turnover as they enter year three
Biggest Question Is three years enough to establish a winner?
Player to Watch Nate Behar, WR (48 rec, 837 yds, 17.4 avg, 7 TDs)
The Ravens are only in their third year back on the field but they are already seeing improvements getting four wins last year. The team is getting better but they are still a bit of a mystery as they have put together a good group but nobody truly knows where they might lie at the end of the season and if the improvements can push them to the playoffs.
gu-gryphons.fw Guelph Gryphons
2014 Record 7-1 (Lost in Yates Cup)
Strength Consistently challenging the top teams
Biggest Question Can they continue their recent success?
Player to Watch Curtis Newton, LB (56 tkl, 1.0 sck, 1 INT)
The Gryphons have been the only team to challenge the top teams in recent years and have had the best winning percentage over the last three years. It is getting to the end of this classes time in Guelph though and the losses of some of their top guys might make them suffer. Still they are a good team and a playoff berth is likely for another year.
wlu-goldenhawks.fw Laurier Golden Hawks
2014 Record 4-4 (6th in OUA)
Strength Their rushing game is one of the best in the CIS
Biggest Question Can they overcome their defensive losses?
Player to Watch Dillon Campbell, RB (185 att, 1,458 yds, 13 TD, 2 Fum)
A young team did well last year as they entered the playoffs and now with another year under their belts they try to take it another step forward. They have the offence to do it but their defence will need to replace two very good players in Chris Ackie and Ese Mrabure-Ajufo. If the defence can recover from their losses a deep playoff run could be in the future.
mcm-marauders.fw McMaster Marauders
2014 Record 7-1 (Lost in Vanier Cup)
Strength There are plenty of options in the receiving corps
Biggest Question Can a new-look defence work quickly?
Player to Watch Daniel Petermann, WR (35 rec, 438 yds, 4 TD)
The Marauders are fresh off an appearance in the Vanier Cup but they come into a new season with a couple of new faces. Their major leaders are gone from a year ago and that includes defensive sparkplug Nic Shorthill. They will need to overcome these losses but with a coaching staff and a host of veterans like they have the playoffs seem possible.
ou-geegees.fw Ottawa Gee Gees
2014 Record 5-3 (Lost in OUA Semi-Finals)
Strength The offence has an experienced duo of leaders
Biggest Question Can they overcome the loss of a defensive leader?
Player to Watch Derek Wendell, QB (62.4%, 2,172 yds, 16 TD 8 INT)
The Gee Gees enjoyed a thrilling end to the season where they squeaked into the playoffs on the strength of a good end to the season. With much of their offence returning they are hoping to see a more consistent year where they get into the playoffs again. They will have to overcome a big hole left by Ettore Lattanzio on the defensive line but the playoffs are possible.
qu-goldengaels.fw Queen’s Gaels
2014 Record 3-5 (8th in OUA)
Strength Another year under the belt of a young team
Biggest Question How much does the loss of two leaders hurt?
Player to Watch Jesse Andrews, RB (120 att, 762 yds, 4 TD 1 Fum)
The Gaels had a tough year last year as a young team had to get up to speed fast and although they challenged many top teams. This year it will be the same as the young players will have another year under their belt but the two offensive leaders in Billy McPhee and Alex Carroll are gone. That will likely lead to another rough year as the playoffs are not in the cards this year.
uoft-varsityblues.fw Toronto Varsity Blues
2014 Record 2-6 (9th in OUA)
Strength It is one of the most potent offences in the OUA
Biggest Question Can their defence step up to match the offence?
Player to Watch Simon Nassar, QB (64.1%, 2,280 yds, 11 TD, 2 INT)
The Varsity Blues are trying to come out of a bad time in their history as they are finally putting together winning seasons. Now it is time to take the next step and the offence is ready with the OUA’s best quarterback at the helm. If the defence can match the offence the Blues may finally make the playoffs this year but that is far from a guarantee.
uofw-warriors.fw Waterloo Warriors
2014 Record 1-7 (10th in OUA)
Strength New direction on the sidelines with new coach
Biggest Question Is that enough to start winning?
Player to Watch Greg Zaitz, LB (54 tkl, 2 Frec, 0 sck, 1 INT)
The Warriors are hoping on some major returns from new head coach Chris Bertoia who joins the team from Western and hopes to begin a turnaround for a team that has spent plenty of time in the basement of the conference. Don’t expect them to win the Yates Cup or even make the playoffs but they are in the right direction.
wu-mustangs.fw Western Mustangs
2014 Record 6-2 (Lost in OUA Semi-Finals)
Strength Their offensive leaders return ready for a big year
Biggest Question Can they overcome the defensive losses?
Player to Watch Will Finch, QB (67.6%, 1,762 yds,14 TD, 7 INT)
The Mustangs are once again a team to be watched throughout the season but they will need to overcome the losses of some of their best defensive playmakers in order to continue their time at the top of the conference. The Mustangs have the offensive power to get back to the playoffs but the defensive losses could prevent them from another Yates Cup.
win-lancers.fw Windsor Lancers
2014 Record 5-3 (Lost in OUA Quarter-Finals)
Strength They have a good running tandem
Biggest Question Can they overcome the loss of their offensive leader?
Player to Watch Tarrence Crawford, RB (66 att, 477 yds, 3 TD, 0 Fum)
The Lancers are having a good run as they continue to make the playoffs year after year but their time is running out to make a big impact. As the team gets older they lose more of their top players and that includes this year with the loss of QB Austin Kennedy. That loss is going to be tough to overcome but they still have the talent to make the playoffs.
yu-lions.fw York Lions
2014 Record 0-8 (11th in OUA)
Strength New focus on recruiting has changed the talent level
Biggest Question Will the new recruits be impactful enough?
Player to Watch Rees Paterson, CB (25.5 tkl, 0 sck, 1 FF, 2 Frec, 0 INT)
The Lions are a team always looking for a new way to do things as they cannot get out of the losing culture that has been built in the school. A new concentration on recruiting has given some hope for the future but it is not likely that they have an impact this year. The Lions have the CIS’s 9th ranked recruiting class according to CFC but that won’t help in 2015.

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