Sixty minutes

Four-quarter effort still eluding Gaels

Queen’s is still searching for a consistent performance.

With three games left in the regular season, the football team (4-1) is preparing for a Saturday showdown with the Windsor Lancers (3-2).

The Gaels have stumbled in recent games, barely squeezing out a 32-25 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees last week.

Head coach Pat Sheahan highlighted the importance of starting quickly on both sides of the ball.

“Everyone knows we haven’t put forth that 60-minute effort yet,” he said.

The Gaels have looked dominant for short periods this season, but have failed to convert on offense with any degree of regularity. They rank fourth in the OUA with 160 points scored, though most have come against teams in the conference’s lower echelon.

To be effective, Sheahan believes the offense must direct the ball toward their top playmakers, including running back Ryan Granberg and receivers Giovanni Aprile and Justin Chapdelaine.

Queen’s opponents are facing a similar offensive quandary.

Windsor has been the OUA’s most bipolar team in 2012. They scored 63 points against Ottawa and 55 against the Toronto Varsity Blues, but managed just nine in a humbling defeat to the Guelph Gryphons.

Last week, they squeezed out a 26-22 victory over the York Lions — a team Queen’s dismantled with ease in the season opener.

Despite the Lancers’ prolonged bouts of inconsistency, Sheahan refuses to take them lightly.

“[Windsor] has a penchant for big plays,” he said. “If they get up early and control the ebb and flow of the game, they can get you into some undesirable situations.”

Third-year quarterback Austin Kennedy spearheads the Lancers’ offense. Statistically, he’s the most impressive quarterback in the conference, averaging 40 pass attempts and 356 yards per game.

Kennedy supplements his passing prowess with an ability to extend plays with his feet when his initial options disappear.

“Kennedy’s the key to the whole thing,” Sheahan said. “Regardless of what coverage scheme you’re working, when he threatens to run, you have to come off your guy [on defence].”

Kennedy has paired with fifth-year receiver Jordan Brescacin to form one of the country’s most lethal passing combinations. Brescacin leads the CIS in every receiving category, with 46 catches and seven touchdowns through five games.

The Gaels’ defence may have to compensate for the absence of several starters. Linebacker Justin Baronaitis and defensive backs Ben D’Andrea, Joshua Sultana and Christoph Smith all sat out last week against Ottawa.

Sultana is projected to return against Windsor, but a number of young players will play significant minutes on defence.

“[Having] enough depth to have guys step in is part of having a successful football program,” Sheahan said.

Queen’s has been particularly successful against Windsor in recent years, having won their last four matchups with the Lancers by comfortable margins.

Saturday’s game will kick off at 7 p.m., marking the Gaels’ second night contest of the season.

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