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Campbell: Unanswered questions loom for Alouettes

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Sean Campbell
6/27/2013 11:11:15 AM
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The Montreal Alouettes embark on a new season with a new man at the helm. With Marc Trestman gone to Chicago in the NFL, Dan Hawkins is now the face of the winningest franchise in the CFL over the last decade.

Will Dan Hawkins be as successful as Marc Trestman? That is the biggest question heading into the 2013 season for the Alouettes. In five seasons Trestman appeared in three Grey Cups and won two, plus picked up a coach of the year award along the way.

Hawkins comes to Montreal as a freshman to the Canadian game. He'll have to go through all the growing pains Trestman did his first few years in Montreal while answering all the tough questions in the CFL game: Should I concede a safety? Should I kick it away with a minute and a half left? Do I go for it in our own half on third and two? When do I kick it out of the end zone? Do I attempt a 52 yard field goal? Not the easiest answers north of the border.

How will Hawkins energetic style be received by a veteran offensive core after five years of the mild mannered Trestman? We all remember Hawkins introductory press conference in Montreal with 102 people at the head table. Here are a few quotes to remind you:

"God forbid if I drop dead of a heart attack, Jim would have a number of options to go to on this staff." – On his Staff
"You start rattling down these situations that are happening, you're going, 'can you explain that again, they did what?' But that's part of the fun of it." – On the CFL rules
"You get nowhere by playing it safe, you get nowhere by not taking any risks." – On his coaching style

Dan Hawkins seems like a fun guy, but he has yet to coach a game. The one hard truth about coming to Montreal is that wins matter, wins affect the bottom line. Even in a year in which Montreal won the East Division in 2012 they did not sell out. There will be pressure to perform right away, not only to sell seats but father time will at some point catch up with Anthony Calvillo.

Did someone say Anthony Calvillo? He's a question all by himself. There is nothing to question about his talent, the only question is time. How much longer will the man they call "A.C." be at the helm of the Alouettes? He is the most important player on this team by far and his play can be directly linked to wins and losses. The Als cut QB Quinton Porter in training camp, leaving only little used Josh Neiswander and CFL Rookie Tanner Marsh as his back-ups. Calvillo will have success this season on the field; the key is keeping him on the field.

Who will be the Alouettes running back? To me, I think its Brandon Whitaker's position to lose, but the competition for playing time has already begun. Jerome Messam (hamstring) and Whitaker (knee) are already on the one-game injured list, meaning Chris Jennings has the first crack in week one. Who will it be in Week 9? Week 19? Jim Popp who joined Mitch Gallo and I on the Als This Week said he expected Whitaker back in Week 2 and Messam by Week 3 or 4. Do we dare start asking questions about the defence?

- Can rookie safety Mike Edem play consistently enough to retain the starter's role?
- Is Kyries Hebert really a linebacker?
- Who else will sack the quarterback other than John Bowman?
- Will veterans DBs Geoff Tisdale and Byron Parker be able to keep pace with the leagues quickest receivers?

We may have to save that for another post.

Welcome to the 2013 CFL season.

Dan Hawkins (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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