The talent is there; someone just needs to piece it together
The University of Regina Rams have not had the year they were expecting. Coming in with hopes of making the playoffs, and making strides among the CIS West, things have not worked out as they had planned. Right now, even though the Rams actually won last week 56-41 over the Manitoba Bison, they will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs and have to hope everything falls perfectly into place. My job here is to tell you guys what the Rams have to do this offseason in order to make the playoffs next year, and continue to be a contender in the coming years.
Commit to Noah Picton Full-Time
I’ve been clamouring for this move for a while. Cayman Shutter has been hurt for a lot of this season, and Noah Picton has been absolutely killing it of late, putting up big passing numbers, using his feet to keep plays alive, and doing a better job of keeping his team in the game. I imagine that Picton is the quarterback of the future in the minds of the Rams with Shutter playing his last season here, but they have to commit to him in full. Working with his receivers in the off-season, having a say in what the offensive game plan looks like in order to get the most out of his weapons. Picton has the talent to succeed here, and has the talent around him to do so in terms of receivers and running backs. Make him your guy, and stick with him.
Adjust their Defensive System
One thing that I’ve noticed about this defence is that they have some very talented defensive backs, and not much defensive pressure. That’s why I’d like to see their game plan change a bit to support these guys. Not getting to the quarterback is something that I’ve seen for far too long from my other favourite teams, it gets frustrating. All I’d like to see is a little more creativity when it comes to blitzing. Delayed blitzes, cornerback blitzes, something to shake up the other quarterback so he doesn’t have all day to sit back and throw. Trust your guys in the secondary that they can handle the extra workload in favour of getting to the quarterback more. Less coverage sacks.
Move to a Single Back System
The Rams have had on and off success with the run, but one thing remains the same here: they have a star in freshman Atlee Simon. The last two games when he got the majority of the carries, he had 274 yards on 42 carries and four touchdowns on the ground. That’s an average of 6.5 yards per carry! Someone give this man the ball more! Jens Johnson can be a change of pace back, and you have a formidable one-two punch in the backfield.
Hire a New Head Coach from Within the Organization
This last one is easy: Keep things simple and hire your replacement for retiring Frank McCrystal from within your own team. Defensive coordinator Bernie Schmidt or offensive coordinator Paul Dawson would do fine in keeping the general feel and schemes of the team the same, and make the transition less rocky. McCrystal is a legendary figure here, and those two have been around long enough to know how to continue his legacy.
This Rams team has a great opportunity next year to succeed, and they have the confidence and talent to do so. Everything just needs a bit of tweaking, and some of the young guys just need that experience. This year was a learning year, next year could be the year they put it together.