SFU football has yet to post a winning season since joining the NCAA. However, with new head coach Jacques Chapdelaine, the team looks to change that this season.
Chapdelaine, who was most recently the offensive coordinator for the BC Lions, a position he held from 2010 to 2013, and previously 2005 to 2006, hopes to use his experience to make the Clan a stronger offensive team.
“Offensively, I think we’ll probably have more formations and probably a greater variety of patterns to associate with that using quite a bit of pocket movement so the quarterback is in the same spot, which should help also with the protection schemes,” said the coach.
However, Chapdelaine’s new systems are not just limited to offense. He also intends to bring in a safer, more reliable defense.
“I think we’re moving forward. They’ve [. . .] really turned it into a positive experience.”
“We’ll probably be relying more on the front four on defense to put pressure on the quarterback as opposed to having a pretty steady stream of blitz pressure like they did last year, leaving the coverage more vulnerable when they did that.”
SFU has good reason to put their trust in coach Chapdelaine. In his first head coaching job with Laval University, he won the team their first Vanier Cup, the CIS championship, in 1999. He has also won two Grey Cups as an offensive coordinator and has been on the coaching staff for three Grey Cup victories.
Ultimately, it comes down to the players, and although having five Clan members drafted by the CFL looks good on the program, it also means losing some key players. Despite this, Chapdelaine is convinced that the team is up to the challenge.
“The biggest change on our team from last year would be the veterans moving on, [. . . as there are] some spots we need to fill,” he added. “But at the same time, we’ve had some guys who have stepped up and really done a good job.”
In particular, he mentioned Quinn Courtney and Michael Couture as quality candidates to fill in the holes on the offensive line. The coach, however, wants to credit the whole team for their work ethic and ability to adapt to his new systems.
“I think we’re moving forward. They’ve picked up the challenges of having a new system and [they’ve] really turned it into a positive experience.”
For a winning season to occur, though, Chapdelaine says that the team needs to work on its consistency. “At this point in time, because these are new schemes for them, they need to develop consistency through repetition. Repetition will be crucial in order to have a successful season.”
Chapdelaine’s praise of his team’s hard work indicates a bright future. The games have yet to be played, and until then it will be hard to judge the Clan, but for now it seems like this could be their season.
The Clan play their first home game against the Menlo College Oaks on Saturday, September 6 at 12:00 p.m.