The strategy of using a committee of running backs paid off in the final game against Concordia as the Université Laval Rouge et Or ground attacker had by far their best game of the season.
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After 210 yards against the Stingers, who rely on lighter tacklers, will the Rouge et Or take the same approach on Sunday afternoon when the McGill Redbirds visit 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. Every wearer has their own style. Usage may vary from game to game, but I trust all the guys. »
“I’m very pleased with the performance of our four carriers,” Éthier continued. Regardless of the outcome, the goal was for all four to see action early in the game. Three played in the first half and Angel [Vital] will be launched at the beginning of the third quarter. »
Gabriel Leblond took advantage of the return to rotation. “By betting on a good rotation, we have achieved good results,” underlined the product of the Faucons de Lévis-Lauzon. Each of us has our strengths and I imagine it’s harder for the opposing defense to defend. »
Left aside throughout the 2021 campaign, Leblond takes advantage of the opportunities that come his way.
“I was warned that I would have to be patient when recruiting and I wasn’t expecting to play at all last year,” he said. Four veterans stood in front of me. It was hard just practicing, but I had 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 have had issues being able to exercise during COVID, this was not my case,” Leblond continues. I exercised at home and gained 20 pounds. I had waited two years and was really happy when I played my first game against Sherbrooke. »
Éthier said he was pleasantly surprised by Leblond’s start to the season, rushing for 110 yards with 14 carries in two games. Dressed for the first four games, he saw no offensive action at McGill and Montreal.
“He’s doing better than the guy we recruited,” recognized Laval’s offensive coordinator. We recruited him late because we weren’t convinced and obviously we were wrong in our initial assessment. He had been warned that he would not play a part in his freshman year. He didn’t say a word and trained hard with the Boy Scout team. It’s all for his credit. »
Does Leblond feel extra pressure to perform because he doesn’t touch the ball as often?
“Not at all,” said the man who rushed for 64 yards on nine carries against the Stingers. When I’m on the pitch, all I think about is doing well. It motivates me even more. I’m very happy with my start to the season. This is the start I wanted. I’ve also shown that I can contribute in the special teams. »
Return from Muganda
Kalenga Muganda, who missed Concordia with an ankle injury, will be back in action while Angel Vital, who played very well against the Stingers in his first career game, will be absent through injury.
The Rouge et Or will dress five porters for the first time this season as Émile Malenfant will play his first game.
For the first time in his long association with the Rouge et Or, offensive coordinator Justin Éthier delivered the speech after the last training session before the game.
Photo: Simon Clark
Justin Ethier, offensive coordinator
Due to the absence of head coach Glen Constantin, who will be back for the McGill game, Éthier addressed all the players as his boss does after each practice session.
“Glen warned us on Friday but the players didn’t know,” said Éthier. It’s the first time, but it’s no big deal. »
Éthier underlined the importance of putting on a good show for the fans and taking full advantage of every local game to perform to the full, regardless of the opposition and the half-time score. “The stage here faces the stands and the stage was still there in the second half of the game against Concordia, even though the result was known. »
While receiver Darius Simmons poses the Redbirds’ biggest threat when in uniform, William Langlais gave the Rouge et Or a lot of headaches in the first game between the two teams with seven receptions for 152 yards.
“I didn’t remember him in 2021 but he’s an excellent athlete,” said defender Maxym Lavallée. During the game at McGill, I quickly realized that he was very good. He is very meticulous in his drawings. Faced with him on several occasions, I found him to be very versatile. »
Some players will be playing their first game in the varsity ranks, others their first of the season.
Defensive end Alias Amelin and linebacker Nathan Vivier, two products of the Vanier Cheetahs, will see their debut in the varsity ranks, as will offensive lineman Samuel Faucher. Vivier replaces the injured Alexandre Knox.
The Rouge et Or had featured the same seven attacking players since the start of the season, but center Nicolas Thibodeau’s ankle injury in the last game necessitated Faucher’s move.
Receiver Andrew Menzies, who injured his ankle in the first game against Sherbrooke, will be back in action.
Arnaud Laporte changes position and a 1st start for Hugo LaRue this season
Cornerback Arnaud Laporte, author of three interceptions this season, a record in the RSEQ, faces a new challenge Sunday afternoon against the McGill Redbirds.
Laporte has started on the wide side of the field since the start of the season and 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 chasing concepts on the short side and you shouldn’t skip a step. There is less space to cover, but the game moves faster. I played on the short side during my Thetford Mines years and I feel ready. »
Laporte is happy with his start to the season and more importantly with his progress. “I understand the tasks faster because I’ve already seen the situations that arise,” he said. There is a good development between my first season and my second. I need to make sure the details are completed and not repeating the same mistakes. »
Photo by Facebook, Rouge et Or
Arnaud Laporte in the game against the McGill Redbirds earlier this season.
Laporte proudly wears the number 13 worn by compatriot Souleymane Karamoko during his Rouge et Or career. “French industry is doing well,” he said with a smile. And Billy [Jonas Pernier] wears number 14, which I had last year. »
Jonas Pernier, also French, played for the Filons at Thetford Mines before joining Laval.
Second career start
For his part, Hugo LaRue will make his second career start. He will take Laporte’s place on the wide side of the field.
After suffering an ACL tear at Concordia last year while making his first career start, LaRue finally returned to action against the same Stingers on Sunday.
“I’m very, very happy to be back,” said the Lévis Lauzon Falcon product. I’m feverish and excited to find myself a starter. I had a good game against Concordia and felt comfortable. I had two sets early in the game and played the second half. I have confidence in my abilities. »
However, the recovery took longer than expected as he believed he was physically ready for the first game of the season. “It was related to my injury last year but it was quickly rectified once they found the problem. I’ve been ready since bye week and have no episodes,” LaRue explained.
Does he feel additional pressure to perform on his first start of the season? “I don’t feel any stress,” he said. I’d like to do a little more, but in five years I’ve proven myself to coaches. »
Bored with a virus that made him miss the visit to Concordia, Cristophe Beaulieu returns to his starting position as a defender on the broad side.