Intro to Canadian Studies: shrunken Week 11 schedule produces giant performances

Photo courtesy: West Virginia Athletics

Take a look at this week’s lecture and you’ll see a lot of empty seats. That’s because college football seems to be facing a reckoning as COVID-19 continues to rampage through the United States.

15 different NCAA games were either postponed or canceled last week — a new record — and eight Canadians couldn’t take the field, including stars like John Metchie III, Josh Palmer and Enock Makonzo.

Despite the bleak overtones, the rest of the Canadian contingent came to play with some truly excellent performances. If that has any hopes of continuing, make sure you continue to take every precaution — stay home when you can, wash your hands, and wear a mask.

If you don’t care about saving lives, at least help save the football season, this one and, more importantly, the next.

In that vein, here is another online lecture to give you all the latest highlights in the week that was for Canadians south of the border.

Top of the Class

1. FS Alonzo Addae, SR, West Virginia Mountaineers (Pickering, Ont.)

I am getting used to praising Alonzo Addae in this segment.

The West Virginia safety was once again spectacular on Saturday, anchoring the Mountaineers back end to their fifth victory of the season. In all, Addae made eight tackles, broke up two passes and only allowed a single catch for minus-four yards in a strong performance against Texas Christian University.

In a season where he’s been the Big 12’s most consistent safety, Addae notched another strong Pro Football Focus grade of 78.7. It’s a testament to his standard of play that was only good enough for his third-best grade of the year. The Pickering native seems destined to follow his cousin’s path into the NFL next season and this week was just another reason why.

2. RB Chase Brown, SO, Illinois Fighting Illini (London, Ont.)

Look out, because there is another Canadian backfield star in the making.

In Illinois’ first win of the year, Chase Brown was an integral part of a three-headed rushing attack that put up 342 yards against Rutgers. Brown was responsible for 132 of those yards on 17 carries, busting four runs of 10 or more yards.

He finished with a PFF grade of 74.3 when running the ball but perhaps more importantly, he was the guy that Illinois turned to when it needed extra pass protection on the final game-winning drive.

Brown was graded at 76.8 in that capacity, providing crucial time for his quarterback in a three-point game. He should only be getting more time in the backfield going forward and more appearances on this list are in his future.

T-3. DE Mohamed Diallo, SR, Central Michigan Chippewas (Toronto, Ont.)

Diallo only played three snaps in Central Michigan’s season opener last week but he got the start against Northern Illinois and put together one of the highest-graded games by a Canadian player all year. In 34 reps along the defensive line, Diallo received an excellent 80.2 mark from PFF but it was some truly spectacular plays against the run that get the Texas A&M transfer on this list.

Along with a quarterback hurry, Diallo made four tackles, burst through the line for two tackles for loss while forcing and recovering a fumble. That was good enough to receive a PFF run defence grade of 90.7, a mark that can only be described as elite.

It was a career-best showing for the Canadian and with the Mid-American Conference season still in its infancy, perhaps a harbinger of big things to come.

T-3. DT Olivier Charles-Pierre, SR, Houston Cougars (Laval, Que.)

When you honour one hulking Canadian defensive lineman, why not make it two?

Hulking might actually be an understatement when talking about 370-pound Olivier Charles-Pierre, but nevertheless the Laval native was stellar for the Cougars on Saturday. Two tackles and a hurry might seem like a pedestrian stat line, but Charles-Pierre’s ability to eat up gaps was more meaningful than the box score.

Overall, his grades mirrored that of Diallo, finishing with a slightly lower 88.8 mark against the run but a higher 83.6 grade overall.

The role of a gap plugger isn’t glamorous and it’s hard to reward when compared to highlight reel generators, but Charles-Pierre was the highest-graded Canadian in Week 11 and that deserves a spot on the podium.

Notes on the Margin

CB Jett Elad, FR, Ohio Bobcats (Mississauga, Ont.)

This section has to begin with a small apology.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job highlighting the accomplishments of every Canadian in the NCAA this year, but I completely whiffed on including Jett Elad in my coverage last week due to an error on the Ohio website that has his hometown listed as Cleveland. Elad is from Mississauga and he made sure I didn’t miss him this week.

In 31 snaps as Ohio’s slot corner, the redshirt freshman made four tackles against Akron and notched his first career interception in just his second college game. It was an excellent MACtion performance that resulted in a PFF grade of 69.1 and ensured that Elad will be firmly on my NCAA radar for the rest of the year.

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

It was an excellent week for Canadians on the defensive line, with two featured in the Top of the Class and players like Akheem Mesidor, Alex Dumais, and Tavius Robinson all getting to the quarterback for sacks. Daniel Joseph didn’t do that, but no other Canadian managed more than his six quarterback pressures against Florida State.

The Penn State transfer hasn’t been perfect since making the switch to the Wolfpack but he has consistently shown enough speed off the edge to disrupt the passer. Saturday was another example and the Torontonian earned an excellent mark of 72.2 from PFF.

Not only was that the second-best grade of Joseph’s four-year career, it was also a new personal best for quarterback disruption, proving once again that Joseph made the right decision in trading lions for wolves this off-season.

Re-Submit Assignment

REC Nick Mardner, SO, Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (Mississauga, Ont.)

It’s a hard fall from glory.

After rightfully earning a spot at the top of the class a week ago with a career-best performance, Hawai’i tried to replicate the success for Mardner this week to no avail. Against San Diego State, he was targeted seven times. He only caught one of them — for zero yards.

Simply put, he couldn’t get the separation or positioning to make an impact, despite being given more opportunities than anyone else. Add in a drop and it equals a dismal 48.1 PFF grade.

Mardner’s performance a week ago was a breakout, but he wasn’t heavily targeted before that and he’s now fallen short in a prime opportunity to seize a bigger role. This won’t be the last time you hear from the Mississauga native but fans may have to temper expectations going forward.

Class Attendance

QB Kurtis Rourke, FR, Ohio: 44 offensive snaps, 14 attempts, eight completions, 92 yards

CB Peter Kemeni, FR, Ohio: Special teams only

REC Dominic Johnson, SR, Buffalo: 40 offensive snaps, zero receptions

TE Cole Burniston, SO, Buffalo: Five offensive snaps

RG Gabe Wallace, SO, Buffalo: Four offensive snaps

LG Sidy Sow, JR, Eastern Michigan: 70 offensive snaps, zero pressures allowed

P Jake Julien, SR, Eastern Michigan: Three punts, 132 yards, 44.0 average

OLB Isaiah Bagnah, FR, Boise State: 11 defensive snaps

LT Alaric Jackson, SR, Iowa: 54 offensive snaps, two pressures allowed

OLB DK Bonhomme, SO, Indiana: 23 defensive snaps, one tackle

C John Kourtis, SO, Liberty: 22 offensive snaps, one pressure allowed

FS Jonathan Sutherland, JR, Penn State: Seven defensive snaps

WLB Jesse Luketa, JR, Penn State: 52 defensive snaps, nine tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass deflection

TE Theo Johnson, FR, Penn State: Special teams only

CB Patrice Rene, SR, North Carolina: 95 defensive snaps, nine tackles, one pass deflection, one forced fumble, 61 yards allowed

DE Akheem Mesidor, FR, West Virginia: 24 defensive snaps, four tackles, one sack, one hurry

FS Sydney Brown, JR, Illinois: 51 defensive snaps, five tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss

DT Alex Dumais, SO, Fresno State: 24 defensive snaps, two tackles, one sack, three hurries

LT Dontae Bull, JR, Fresno State: 76 offensive snaps, three pressures allowed, one tackle

REC Ezechiel Tieide, SO, Boston College: Special teams only

DE Paris Shand, FR, Arizona: Special teams only

NT Samuel Obiang, SO, Texas State: 15 defensive snaps, one tackle

REC Terrell Jana, SR, Virginia: 50 offensive snaps, three receptions, 46 yards

OLB Tavius Robinson, JR, Ole Miss: 35 defensive snaps, one tackle, one sack

CB Deane Leonard, SR, Ole Miss: 44 defensive snaps, five tackles, 39 yards allowed

DE Luiji Vilain, SR, Michigan: 29 defensive snaps, one tackle

LB Kenny Mestidor, FR, UCLA: Special teams only

Rostered but not dressed: LT Daniel Johnson, SO, Kent State / DE Reignings Awah, FR, Kent State / OL Jack Taylor, FR, Western Michigan / OL Deondre Dorion, FR, Buffalo / FS Woodly Appolon, JR, Northern Illinois / DL Cade Cote, FR, Central Michigan / DE Geri Theodore, FR, Toledo / DE Daniel Okpoko, SO, San Diego State / REC Barron Miles Jr, FR, Nebraska / REC Malick Meiga, FR, Penn State / OL Tyrell Lawrence, FR, Minnesota / CB Benjamin St-Juste, JR, Minnesota / TE Bruno Labelle, SR, Cincinnati  LB Nick Wiebe, SO, Oregon / DT Lamar Goods, FR, Florida / DB Henry Kimmins, FR, Washington State / OL Leif Magnuson, FR, Arizona / QB Cameron Fietz, JR, Arizona

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.