Under new coach Dan Hawkins, the Montreal Alouettes are hoping to quickly form an identity.
"It better not take very long," Hawkins said following their final practice before their regular season opener. "I think we're getting there, we're very close, you need those seminal moments that happen during games."
With Marc Trestman, the team's mandate was simple: work hard, respect your opponent and maintain composure and discipline on the football field. Various team mantras were apparent during his tenure, including the popular "win the day." The team often took on the demeanor of their head coach on and off the field.
"You know it took a little while to get used to him, just like it will take a little while for us to adjust to Hawkins," said defensive lineman John Bowman who enters his eighth season with the team. "Not to say it in a bad light, it's just that trust isn't built overnight, we got to build our way to trust."
Hawkins is clearly very different than the reserved and soft-spoken Trestman. General manager Jim Popp went outside the box and picked a coach who's loud, boisterous and provides sound bites by the dozen. The team will likely follow suit and the Alouettes that people have come to know, could have a much different feel to them.
"It's been a work in progress," Popp said. "Each day is a new experience so whatever mistakes he makes, he'll question and improve on them daily."
Hitting the ground running will be key, but there will be some growing pains along the way with the offense. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo will be working with a limited playbook for the first couple games trying to learn a new system in a short amount of time.
"What's great is they haven't overloaded us," Calvillo said. "They have a great amount of plays that we've really focused on and were trying to move forward from there."
The offense will start the season without their top to running backs Brandon Whitaker and Jerome Messam while Chris Jennings will have the opportunity to show if what he did in a small sample size of seven games, specifically a standout game in Edmonton where he had 124 total yards, can be sustained for an entire season.
Calvillo will be working with arguable the best wide receiving core in the league as Arland Bruce gets added to a mix that already includes Jamel Richardson, S.J. Green and Brandon London.
There is a lot of information to digest for both the coaching staff and players early in the year, but the good news for the Alouettes is that they have a favorable schedule to start the season.
"The first game is always tough, you don't know what the true personnel is going to be, the schemes, what they're going to come out with," said offensive lineman Josh Bourke. "All we got to do is follow our rules and we'll be okay."