After a disappointing 19-0 loss at the hands of the University of Toronto to start the season on Sept. 3, things got worse after the Golden Hawks lost their home opener on Saturday night against Queen’s University 42-16. Their youth certainly showed as the team committed 13 penalties for a total of 85 yards. “Bottom line is our youth,” Head Coach Gary Jeffries said, “We played a veteran Queen’s team that is one of the best in the country, but we played our guts out for 26 or 27 minutes.”
Penalties aside, Laurier couldn’t match Queen’s offensive attack. Although Laurier moved the ball well, with the amount of first downs being close between the two teams, the Gaels threw for 200 more yards than the Golden Hawks could muster. Rookie quarterback Tyler Egan struggled for the second straight game throwing the ball, throwing two interceptions and one touchdown, completing only 43 per cent of his 21 passes. In his game against U of T, he threw for only 122 yards and completed 30 per cent of his 27 passes. Coach Jeffries isn’t too concerned this early in the season, “He’s [Eman] playing like we’d expect a 19-year old to play out there. He’s made some plays, but my biggest concern is his lack of protection in the pocket.”
Eman has been sacked four times through the first two games, but it could be much worse if it wasn’t for his ability to run which is the biggest bright spot so far. He has rushed for 83 yards, 62 of which were against U of T. However, this is not how Jeffries wants Eman to be manufacturing offense, “[We] don’t like him to scramble that much. He needs to be in the pocket more.” In a three-down league like CIS football is, the passing game is much more important than the run game, although it is great to know that a quarterback can run when he needs to.
Digging themselves such a large hole at 0-2 to start the season in the tough OUA West Division, Coach Jeffries’ message to his team going into next Saturday’s game against York is simple: “Game three is a playoff game. We can’t lose to York.”
Jeffries has a lot of respect for the Lions (1-1). “They’re not the York of old; they’re a strong team. The score doesn’t show how close their game against Queen’s was, but they put up 300 yards in that game,” York is also coming off a huge come-from-behind victory at home against Ottawa, 47-36. This should give the Lions a ton of momentum when they step foot on Knight-Newbrough Field on Sept. 15.
The Golden Hawks will need a clean game of football if they want to have a chance on the gridiron against York. Otherwise, the team is going to continue their slide in the wrong direction.
“We spent a lot of time on team stuff last week, so now we need to just cleanup our mistakes. Go back to fundamentals,” said Jeffries This vision is clear and has been laid out since day one, but when Laurier will successfully execute is yet to be seen.