Men’s football will be looking for their first win this weekend — but it’ll without question come with its share of difficulties.
The Gaels will host the reigning Yates Cup champions and sixth-ranked Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday at 1 PM. When the teams met last year, Queen’s lost 37-18.
“Well, of course, we’ve got a tough opponent,” head coach Pat Sheahan said. “But I think we’ve established ourselves as a tough team.”
“I think we can play with anybody.”
Sheahan expressed to The Journal after the team’s loss to UOttawa last week that “[Queen’s] is probably three plays away from going 2-0 right now.,” and it’s seemingly fair to assume so. In both of their opening games, the Gaels led for nearly 27 of a possible 30 fourth quarter minutes.
Despite a 0-2 record to kick off their season, there’s truth to what Sheahan told The Journal over a phone interview — his team can fare with some of the OUA’s best. And the Gaels’ past two games certainly lend the coach’s statements some credibility.
Queen’s first game saw the team lose a nail biter to Carleton with 18 seconds to play. In their most recent bout, UOttawa beat them by a single point and scored the game winning touchdown with 1:45 left on the ticker.
For Sheahan, the Gaels’ misfortunes — or early setbacks — are more a case of missed plays than anything else.
“It’s a matter of whether we can make those key plays when the game is on the line to make the difference,” he said.
Moreover, the Gaels currently rank second in total points allowed in the OUA, just behind Laurier. They are a perfect five-for-five from the red zone with three field goals and a pair of touchdowns.
With two losses to their name, Sheahan said that room for improvement is always embraced.
“Our guys are determined, they’ve worked hard. [But] we know we can improve, we know we can play better,” he said.
Looking at the opponent, Laurier comes into Kingston this weekend with seven-straight wins against OUA teams.
With a potential eighth on the line, Sheahan said the team is reluctant to be intimidated by the Golden Hawks’ status as an OUA powerhouse.
“I mean, we certainly don’t want to underestimate our opponents. They’re the defending champs and a good team, but we think we can play ‘em,” he said.
An area of strength for Queen’s in their latest matchup was their run game on both sides of the ball. The team effectively rushed for 204 yards last week against Ottawa compared to their 57 versus Carleton, and only let up a mere 83 yards on the ground to their previous 141.
Asked if the team will alter their approach against Laurier — who ranks first in the OUA against the run, allowing only 90 yards per game — Sheahan said he’d like to keep his opponents on their toes and guessing.
“Obviously running the football is good, it wears people down. But I don’t think we can feed the diet of one particular thing,” the coach said on exclusively targeting the run offensively. He added that a balanced attack is what the team’s plan is set to be — see what the defense gives them, he said.
“We’ve gotta keep [Laurier] off balance,” Sheahan said.
“On any given day, depending on how the game is going, we can switch channels or switch gears and take advantage of what they’re trying to do to us.”
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