For the second consecutive season, the Queen’s football team will have a new starting quarterback.
Last season’s second-string quarterback, Billy McPhee, will move into the starting spot with former starter Justin Chapdelaine switching to wide receiver.
As Chapdelaine’s backup last year, McPhee saw action in seven games. He said he’s excited about the offense he’s inheriting because it’s reminiscent of the 2009 Vanier Cup championship team.
“Our offense is a Danny Brannagan style of offense. He had a strong arm and liked staying in the pocket and that’s more my skill set,” McPhee said.
The sophomore quarterback said he’s not overwhelmed by the jump from backup to starter.
“I’m just going to go out there and use all the tools around me,” he said. “My playmaking ends once the ball goes in someone’s hands and we have plenty of guys who can make plays.”
As Chapdelaine’s backup last season, McPhee had 62 pass attempts, and finished the season with two touchdowns, four interceptions and a 45 per cent pass completion rate. Gaels Head Coach Pat Sheahan said McPhee’s numbers were as expected for a backup.
“As a first year player, [McPhee’s] numbers were on schedule,” Sheahan said. “You have to have a certain number of reps before you put any onus on statistics. [McPhee] really didn’t play enough to have a fair assessment in terms of his completion percentage.”
Sheahan said McPhee possesses the skills to become a leader on the team.
“Credibility develops under fire, so his ability to lead will certainly be enhanced by his performance on the field.” Sheahan also said the Gaels will benefit from having two quarterbacks on the field at the same time.
“We have a pretty capable quarterback lined up at receiver also, so you can expect to see him in the backfield sometimes also,” he said.
Gaels Quarterbacks Coach, Ryan Sheahan, said the personnel shuffle doesn’t have to do with Chapdelaine’s performance last season, where Chapdelaine threw for 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and had a 64 per cent completion rate. Instead, Sheahan said that it was Chapdelaine who decided to make the switch.
“As a freshman starter, Justin went out there as a top five completion guy in the CIS,” said Sheahan, who’s the head coach’s son. “Had Justin decided to stay at QB, it would have made things interesting.
“Justin wants to have the best chance at playing professional football.”
Quarterbacks Coach Sheahan said Chapdelaine’s decision came after a strategic meeting with his father Jacques Chapdelaine, an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the CFL’s B.C. Lions.
“He sat down with his father over the Christmas holidays and determined that the best route to the pros would be out wide,” Sheahan said.
The Gaels are heading into their second consecutive season with an unproven rookie quarterback at the helm. But coaching staff said the team is better equipped to deal with an inexperienced quarterback than they were last season. The quarterback coach said McPhee will not have the same pressures as Chapdelaine did.
“We are going from rookie to rookie, instead of from Danny Brannagan to rookie,” Sheahan said.
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