CIS Football Report (Week 4)

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There is little that hasn’t been said about the importance of a quarterback to their football team.

It is the one position that touches the ball on every play and everything starts from them.

They call the plays and have to make adjustments when they see fit while also being a leader in the huddle and off of the field.

They are the one player that everyone wants to talk to when things go right or go wrong and more often than not they take the majority of the blame.  It is a tough position to play and a tough position to find.

It becomes that much tougher in university where coaches must try to find a high school quarterback that can translate to the next level.

It is a difficult transition for most quarterbacks as high school is far different from the game at the university level.

In high school it is often about running the ball as quarterbacks don’t have the arm strength or athletic ability to throw accurate passes.

When they enter university ball the game steps up and is much more pass-happy as the young players begin to develop into much more athletic players.

So finding a quarterback in high school takes a certain eye that can find someone with that raw ability that can be molded into a starter in their second or third year.

It makes it tough for some schools that don’t have that quarterback as they continue to try to find one and start some too soon ruining their development by ruining their confidence.

So when a team tries to find a quarterback to lead the way and gets the opportunity to add an experienced quarterback or a quarterback that has all of the tools they are looking for they jump at the chance.

This year there were two such players for CIS schools to try to add to their rosters and although not every school was interested there were plenty trying to find their next QB.

One of these players was Alex Skinner who took over the starting role for the Laval Rouge et Or in 2013 and led the team to a Vanier Cup.

It is almost unheard of for a Vanier Cup winning quarterback to be available to any team in the country if they could sell their program to him.

The problem was that after that Vanier Cup win he was charged with assault due to an alleged bar fight earlier that

Skinner has pled not guilty to those charges and is currently going through the legal process.

Still he is a Vanier Cup winning quarterback and so teams tried to get him into their program.

In the end it was the Guelph Gryphons who convinced him that their program was the best option.

He is not the starter in Guelph but he is a much-needed experienced quarterback that has two years left in his eligibility and has already thrown for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in limited action this year.

If James Roberts, the starting quarterback, goes down the Gryphons have a back-up plan and they have an extra leader in the locker room from someone who has been to the top of the CIS.

As big as Skinner was this off-season there was one name that stood out among all Canadian football fans.

Michael O’Connor was labelled as the best quarterback to come out of Canada since Jesse Palmer.

He had spent his last year of high school in the USA playing for the IMG academy, a specialized school that gives some of the best athletes in the USA more competition and better training.

He signed his letter of intent to play for the Penn State Nittany Lions and seemed set to follow in the footsteps of Palmer who played for Florida and eventually was drafted into the NFL.

So when O’Connor announced that he was leaving Happy Valley to play in Canada it shocked most people who believed that his shot of making the NFL was about to take a major hit if he decided to play in the CIS.

had almost every school looking to take his talents for their team and in the end it was Blake Nill and his new team, the UBC Thunderbirds, who won the O’Connor lottery.

So far it is working out as O’Connor is starting for the T-Birds and has led them to a 2-1 record while throwing for 954 yards and six touchdowns.

The biggest thing for O’Connor is the fact that he now has five years of eligibility left in the CIS and could be one of the best quarterbacks in the CIS over the next few years as he looks to use his new role to make the NFL, although the CFL will likely be happy to have him if no NFL team wants him.

Both UBC and Guelph took a different route to finding their quarterbacks but in the end both found one that can play at this level leading both to what is turning out to be a successful year.



Key Scores:
Acadia Axemen 25 – 24 Mount Allison Mounties
– The Mounties have been the best team in the east for the last two years but it is clear that Acadia is coming for them after beating them in a tight battle that came down to a missed field goal by the Mounties in the final seconds of the game

Western Mustangs 48 – 25 Queen’s Gaels
– It is one of the oldest rivalries in the CIS as Queen’s and Western have been fighting it out for decades and they faced off once again with the Mustangs showing why they are the top team in the OUA easily getting by their long-time rivals

Guelph Gryphons 33 – 23 McMaster Marauders
– Two teams that could be fighting for the second place spot and a first round playoff bye faced-off in what will likely be an important game at the end of the season and one that the Gryphons were able to take the win after holding off a fourth quarter comeback attempt

UBC Thunderbirds 51 – 48 Manitoba Bisons
– The T-Birds announced their arrival as a competitor in the CanWest conference this year as they took on the defending champion Bisons and took the win in a high scoring battle that saw the Bisons score 21 points in the fourth but come up just short

Next Week:
Saskatchewan Huskies vs. UBC Thunderbirds (Friday September 25th; 7:00 pm CST)
– The Thunderbirds are trying to show that their new coach and quarterback are ready to make them contenders right now and they will look to do that against the Huskies, a team expected to make the playoffs this year

Sherbrooke Vert et Or vs. Mount Allison Mounties (Saturday September 26th; 2:00 pm ADT)
– The Mounties are hurting from a loss to the Axemen this past week and now they move on to the crossover games taking on Sherbrooke who pushed the Rouge et Or to the edge two weeks ago and hope to keep pace by beating the defending AUS champions

Carlton Ravens vs. Western Mustangs (Saturday September 26th; 1:00 pm EDT)
– The Mustangs are the clear leaders in the OUA and in their third year the Ravens are trying to show that they are ready to compete as they take on the Mustangs looking to prove to everyone that they belong among the top of the conference

Queen’s Gaels vs. Toronto Varsity Blues (Saturday September 26th; 1:00 pm EDT)
– It is another old school rivalry as these teams were fighting for the Grey Cup when CIS football was the only game in town and now they face off again looking to put another chapter in their long story with the Gaels looking to keep pace and the Blues trying to move up in the rankings

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