University·U SPORTS FOOTBALL

Vanier Cup matchup a battle of elite heavyweights

The 2019 Vanier Cup features a heavyweight matchup. The University of Calgary and University of Montreal are elite calibre finalists. 

Calgary Dinos and Montreal Carabins feature stars in all 3 facets

Montreal Carabins quarterback Frederic Paquette-Perrault scrambles with the ball as they play the Acadia Axemen in the 2019 Uteck Bowl. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press )

The 2019 Vanier Cup features a heavyweight matchup. The University of Calgary and University of Montreal are elite calibre finalists. 

Record-setting quarterback against a stout defence. Feisty offensive line versus an athletic defensive front. Dangerous return men and kickers who have made clutch field goals. Coaches filled with experience and trophies on their resumes go head-to-head. 

Let's delve into the goods and breakdown who has the advantage in the key facets. 

Offence 

Adam Sinagra has earned a Hec Crighton Award (2018) and played in a Vanier Cup for Calgary (2016). Montreal has switched between quarterbacks Dimitri Morand and Frederic Paquette-Perrault during the regular season and in the playoffs.

The Carabins started Paquette-Perrault in the Dunsmore Cup, but Morand was called off the bench on the Uteck Bowl victory.

Each offence features No. 1 running backs. Robinson Rodrigues for Calgary and Ryth-Jean Giraud carries the load for Montreal. Kevin Kaya is the top target for the Carabins and Jalen Philpot on the Dinos' side. Calgary's depth of skill and size on their offensive line makes them the more fierce offence.

Offensive advantage: Dinos

Defence 

Both teams have a solid defensive line and linebacking corps. 

Well-built pass rusher Benoit Marion is the most dangerous quarterback chaser who will suit up in Quebec City for the Carabins. He has eight sacks in 11 games. Calgary counters with 350-plus pound J-Min Pelley, who is a major disrupter on the interior. 

WATCH | Vanier Cup stars of the past:

With the Vanier Cup taking place this week, take a look back at some of the game's biggest past stars. 2:37

CFL-calibre linebackers will be on display as well with Brian Harelimana in blue and white and Grant McDonald in red and white. The same can be said for the secondaries. Marc-Antoine Dequoy provides playmaking ability for Montreal from his defensive back spot. Nick Statz and Deane Leonard issue the same for the Dinos. 

Collectively, Montreal's defence has only allowed 12 points per game during the regular season and five in the post-season. 

Defensive advantage: Carabins

Special teams 

The Philpot twin brothers were unleashed on special teams for the playoffs and helped add points to the scoreboard for Calgary with electrifying returns. Jalen and Tyson are a threat to score at any time; the former did in the Hardy Cup semifinal win against Manitoba and added one in the Mitchell Bowl. 

Both kickers, Niko DiFonte for Calgary and Louis-Philippe Simoneau, have played in big games and converted pressure-packed kicks. Each young man is calm under the bright lights — DiFonte has the stronger leg of the two if it comes down to a long field goal for the win. 

Special teams advantage: Dinos

Coaching 

Calgary head coach Wayne Harris Jr. and Montreal bench boss Danny Maciocia each oversaw changes to their offensive coaching staffs heading into the season, but have overcome the moves en route to the championship final. 

Maciocia is the only coach ever with a Grey Cup and Vanier Cup victory. He's 1-1 in the national title game while Harris is 0-1. Harris served as defensive coordinator for the Dinos for four years and as an assistant coach for three separate stints between 1989 and 2014 prior to being named head coach four years ago. 

There is heaps of experience on both sides in all phases of the game. 

Coaching advantage: draw

Justin Dunk is a U Sports football analyst.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.