« We like to go and spoil parties »

The Université Laval Rouge et Or are about to land in enemy territory with the intention of shaking up the best football team in the country. « We like to go and spoil parties, » laughs Kevin Mital.

• Read also: A week of learning for the Rouge et Or

Good humor reigned at TELUS-UL Stadium on Wednesday evening, after a penultimate training session at home. The exercises started sheltered from the elements in the indoor stadium and ended on the snowy field, a question of making some adjustments, in particular with the crampons and the equipment.

The gusts did not dampen the spirits of the men of Glen Constantin, however, who were full of confidence this week following their dramatic victory at the Dunsmore Cup last Saturday.

“The message in the room is that we pack for a ten-day trip. We can’t come back here this weekend, ”assures wide receiver Kevin Mital.

The Rouge et Or will play in front of their biggest hostile crowd of the season. Nothing here to play into the spirit of number 8.

“We like that, going to ruin parties. It’s gonna be a show. It’s like when we went to Sherbrooke. There were people and they were silenced. For me, it’s not something that bothers me. »

It’s gonna play hard

But to earn the privilege of extending his stay in London, and by the very fact of playing in the Vanier Cup, both Mital and quarterback Arnaud Desjardins know that they will probably be dealing with the most physically demanding game of the year. .

The Western University Mustangs aren’t in the habit of handing out freebies and certainly won’t start on the weekend, the duo predict.

“I was never part of the Laval-Western rivalry. I know that against Montreal, it’s still super intense matches. But the stakes are even bigger and it’s still guys who are known for their intensity. The guys who were there in 2017 and 2018 tell us that. You have to be ready for that, and I think we are,” says Desjardins.

Speaking of physical play, Mustangs fifth-year safety Daniel Valente Jr., voted O.C.M. Defensive Player of the Year, is a regular at the genre.

Valente Jr., who inherited Defensive Player of the Game honors last Vanier Cup, led the league with five interceptions and recorded 116 tackles and a quarterback sack.

“He covers a lot of ground. He’s a really aggressive guy who wants to make the big plays, hits hard and is really intense. He’s probably their player to watch as much as possible for aerial games, but he also joins the linebackers for running games, ”notes Desjardins, who will have to make sure to constantly have an eye on his rival.

Facing the unknown

Although they know little about their future opponent, Mital and Desjardins do not need to be reminded that the ground attack is the bread and butter of the Mustangs. This season, they averaged 292 yards per game.

No RSEQ team comes close to what the Mustangs do. A part of the unknown is thus added to the preparation.

“Obviously we don’t know them very well. We can see what they are doing, it’s still quite simple, but they do it very well. We don’t really have any benchmarks, unlike when we play against Montreal,” said Desjardins, for whom the key to the game will be to “control the ball”.

An observation that resonates with his teammate.

« It’s a team that averages 42 points per game. [45 points par partie, NDLR]. They run the ball a lot. We want to rest our defense as much as possible and stretch our drives the most possible. »

  • Charles-Lee Alarie-Tardif was awarded the title of special teams player of the week in the country.
  • The Rouge et Or will head to London on Thursday noon, by bus.
  • In the event of victory on Saturday, the team will remain in place while waiting to play the Vanier Cup.
  • Just over 5,000 tickets have been sold so far in anticipation of the Mitchell Cup, according to the Mustangs organization on Wednesday.

Western University Quebec Stream

Western University Mustangs linebacker Olivier Bouthot.

Photo courtesy Brandon VandeCaveye, Western Mustangs

Western University Mustangs linebacker Olivier Bouthot.

Twelve players from the Belle Province line up with the organization

A real Quebec industry is installed in the locker room of the Western Mustangs. No less than 12 Quebecers are part of the team, and Greg Marshall does not hesitate to recruit these « well-trained » players.

A dozen players who have played their football in the Quebec college network are donning the purple uniform this season. Five even come from the Quebec region.

In an interview with members of the media on Wednesday, the Mustangs head coach praised their presence in his organization.

“The CEGEP program in Quebec is really good. The players who come out of it are well trained. They studied and went to school and often away from home. They’re not like the typical Ontario recruits,” he said.

“The college system produces exceptional players. And because they’re a bit older, they’re more physically mature. »

Three Titans in London

The Mustangs notably recruited three players from the Limoilou Titans almost a year ago. Linebackers Olivier Ruest and Olivier Bouthot as well as defensive lineman Jordan Béland have chosen to play their football in London.

And the trio in no way regrets their choice to play in the neighboring province. If the two Oliviers were able to see a little action during the year, Jordan, he even imposed himself as a starter.

“We have known each other since Limoilou. We are like brothers. We all decided to come here for football, but being together influenced our choice, ”says Béland.

The three recruits are even roommates. A valuable asset after a hard day. “At least, when things go less well outside, when we come home, we talk to each other and then we are correct”, specifies Olivier Ruest.

Rookie quarterback Jérôme Rancourt, a product of Campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy (CNDF), also chose Ontario for his university internship. He grew up with the Rouge et Or in his backyard and admits Saturday’s game will have a special flavor.

“Of course it’s funny to play against those we watched when we were little. […] I still have many friends who are in Laval and who are going. It’s sure going to be fun. »

The Bol d’Or first

But before taking action on Saturday, some Mustangs players will not miss a minute of the Bol d’Or match between Limoilou and CNDF on Friday evening. Ruest, Bouthot and Béland will obviously line up in the camp of their alma mater while Rancourt will do the same with CNDF.

“Limoilou is the team that has always been in my veins. And that won’t change. This Bol d’Or there, it’s as if I had a double match, ”launched Ruest.

“Limoilou-CNDF is always a big competition. To see our two clubs perform at the Bol d’Or is really fun “said Rancourt.

The first real test of Mustangs

After flying over the Ontario conference all fall, the Mustangs will have their first real big test of the season against the Rouge et Or.

At least that’s the opinion of head coach Greg Marshall, especially because there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this duel between the two best football programs in the country.

“We haven’t had any opponents who can compare to them,” Marshall reminds us straight away.

“We don’t know yet how they will defend against our attack because there are very few teams in Quebec that have an offense like ours. And on the other hand, we haven’t seen a team like Laval throwing the ball as much as them. You will have to adapt. »

Adapt, yes, but without distorting underlines the renowned trainer. “You can’t change too much, you are who you are” and the key will be to “adapt quickly at the start of the match”.

Flowers for Mital

We will have to watch how Greg Marshall will want to contain star receiver Kevin Mital, whom he calls « an exceptional and dynamic athlete », but who represents « a difficult problem for us ».

“The problem with trying to contain it with double coverage or other methods is that you leave yourself vulnerable to the ground attack and their other receivers who are good too. »

“We have a lot of problems that we will have to try to contain. We will hope for bad weather. Maybe it will help us,” he laughed.

Finally home

The Mustangs kingpin particularly appreciates being able to play in the playoffs at home. In addition to the two playoff games, Western University is host to the Mitchell Cup and the Vanier Cup.

So don’t count on Marshall to get bored of the noisy crowd at TELUS-UL Stadium.

“We were recently watching videos from 2018 with silent cadences. Communication was difficult because it’s noisy. Plus there’s a 10-hour bus ride to get there and then play a game two days later. »

Star running back Édouard Wanadi is still not back in London, confirmed Greg Marshall. He doubts very much that the Quebecer will be in uniform on Saturday.


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