Intro to Canadian Studies: touchdowns and two-yard carries in NCAA Week 3

Photo courtesy: Syracuse Athletics

Welcome back, class.

Week 3 in the NCAA was a fascinating one for Canadian talent. Across the board, Canadians showed up with solid performances that mostly flew under the radar. The quality of play was raised overall, but there won’t be any Canucks in the SportsCenter Top 10 like Alonzo Addae last week.

While lesser known names showed out, some Canadian stars fell relatively flat in their debuts. Others didn’t even get a chance to perform, with Virginia’s Terrell Jana, Houston’s Olivier Charles-Pierre and North Carolina’s Patrice Rene all having their games cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks at their opponents’ schools.

To break it all down, I present the second-ever edition of Intro to Canadian Studies. Without further ado, take out your notebooks and keep your questions till the end while we highlight the best and worst performances by Canadians in the NCAA.

Top of the Class

1. MLB Geoff Cantin-Arku, SO, Syracuse Orange (Levis, Que.)

Week 3’s top Canadian performer also happens to be our first repeat honouree for Top of the Class. One week ago, Cantin-Arku’s statistical volume in a tough loss to a talented opponent sneaked him onto the list at the number three spot, even though his first career start could really only be described as a mixed bag. Volume again plays a role in his selection here, but the Levis native was markedly improved in the second game of what looks to be a breakout sophomore campaign.

In a loss to No. 25 Pitt, Cantin-Arku took part in a whopping 81 defensive snaps and racked up seven tackles, two tackles for loss and three QB hurries. Considering his quantity of snaps, Cantin-Arku recorded a very respectable Pro Football Focus grade of 67.1, significantly better than last week. He was especially good against the run, with a grade of 77.3 on those plays. Cantin-Arku flashed big-time ability to come downhill and penetrate in the run game, while remaining remarkably consistent over a very large sample size to edge his way into the top spot.

2. REC Jared Wayne, SO, Pittsburgh Panthers (Peterborough, Ont.)

On the opposite side of the ball from Cantin-Arku was Pitt receiver Jared Wayne, just narrowly edged out on this list due to a much smaller snap count. After not dressing in Pitt’s season opener against Austin Peay, Wayne was featured in a big way in his 2020 debut.

Listed as an alternate starter, the son of former CFL linebacker Patrick Wayne took advantage of his 32 offensive snaps to great effect. Wayne led his team with five receptions for 59 yards, capping the performance with an easy 25-yard touchdown catch up the seam. It was a heartening indication that Wayne would indeed be building off a promising freshman campaign that saw him become the first Pitt receiver to break the century mark in his debut season since Tyler Boyd in 2013.

3. DE Daniel Joseph, SR, NC State Wolfpack (Toronto, Ont.)

Daniel Joseph took a gamble this off-season and so far it’s worked out exactly as he planned. After four years at Penn State without making a significant impact on the field, the brother of former CFL No. 1 overall selection Faith Ekakite transferred to NC State for a chance to become a starting pass rusher. Through 32 career games with the Nittany Lions, Joseph had just five sacks. On Saturday, he had two in his Wolfpack debut.

Joseph took 53 reps along the NC State defensive line and was credited with five tackles. He also showed the ability to harass a quarterback with five total pressures. While Joseph struggled with a lack of strength against the run, his speed off the edge resulted in a promising pass rush grade of 69.4. Should that continue all season, he will turn some heads on draft day.

Frosh of the Week

NT Samuel Obiang, SO, Texas State Bobcats (Ottawa, Ont.)

The best part about Intro to Canadian Studies is that, unlike a real university course, you are allowed to cheat a bit. While this section was designed to honour freshman, only one played this week in a relatively sub-par performance. Instead, I’ve decided to widen the criteria to qualify any young player in his first season with a NCAA team. As a sophomore junior college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Ottawa’s Samuel Obiang is just such a player.

In his first year of NCAA action, the 290-pound nose tackle has flashed some real promise in each of the first three weeks. His performance in a win over Louisiana Monroe was the best yet. Obiang made two tackles, batted down a pass and twice hurried the opposing quarterback in 22 snaps of action. That was good enough to earn a PFF grade of 79.1, the highest of any Canadian this week. Though his role remains limited, all indications are that Obiang has a bright future in college football.

Re-Submit Assignment

RB Chuba Hubbard, JR, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Sherwood Park, Alb.)

How can a player who ran for 93 yards and a touchdown be considered the most disappointing performance of the week? Simply because we all know what Chuba Hubbard is capable of.

The Canadian Cowboy made the controversial decision to return to school this year and found himself constantly harassed by an aggressive Tulsa defence in his return to action. It didn’t help that his starting quarterback went down early, making the offence entirely one dimensional, but the dominant runner looked painfully pedestrian as he struggled to 3.4 yards per carry. He also did little to answer the questions surrounding the other parts of his game, losing seven yards in the passing game and looking poor as a pass blocker.

Hubbard has to prove he can still be effective when his offensive line isn’t able to give him a perfect crease, but now opponents have a blueprint for how to neutralize him (relatively speaking). He showed he wouldn’t shy away from hard yards with some nice toughness against the Hurricanes, but every week Hubbard doesn’t dazzle is a hit to his NFL draft stock in a world where running backs are of increasingly limited value.

Class Attendance

WLB Enock Makonzo, JR, Coastal Carolina: 50 defensive snaps, two tackles

MLB Amen Ogbongbemiga, SR, Oklahoma State: 60 defensive snaps, four tackles

TE Bruno Labelle, SR, Cincinnati: 34 offensive snaps, three receptions, 36 yards

SLB Tyrell Richards, JR, Syracuse: 28 defensive snaps, three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble

RT Matthew Bergeron, SO, Syracuse: 60 offensive snaps, one sack allowed, one pressure allowed

C John Kourtis, SO, Liberty: Dressed for special teams

REC Ajou Ajou, FR, Clemson: 29 offensive snaps, no catches

PK Gabe Siemieniec, SR, Louisiana Tech: Six kickoffs, 376 yards, 62.7 yard average, one touchback

Rostered but not dressed: DE Wilt Gabe II, SO, Coastal Carolina / REC Damien Alford, FR, Syracuse / OG Patrick Davis, SR, Syracuse / DB Ben Labrosse, FR, Syracuse / OL Liam Dick, FR, Pittsburgh / REC Ezechiel Tieide, SO, Boston College

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.