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Home > Articles > CIS Football > Same foundation, different parts for Queen's offence under new co-ordinator

Same foundation, different parts for Queen's offence under new co-ordinator

Posted: August 16th, 2013 @ 9:41pm


Quite simply, Ryan Sheahan says, it defies description.

"I really don't have the right words," said Sheahan, asked to reflect on a chilly November afternoon in Ste-Foy, Que., almost four years ago when the Queen's Golden Gaels won the Vanier Cup.

Sheahan was the quarterbacks coach on the Queen's staff. His father, Pat, was the head coach and his kid brother, Devan, caught a touchdown pass early in the second half ignite the Gaels' game-winning comeback.

"It was one of the great moments in my life," the middle Sheahan said. "I'm only 32 years old and to have a moment like that with family is irreplaceable. I don't have the right sentiment to express it. It was perfect.

"I hope that we can revisit it one day."

One day, it could well happen. After a year coaching in the Canadian Football League, Ryan Sheahan is back at Queen's, as the new offensive co-ordinator of the Gaels, where his father remains the head coach and his brother has also joined the coaching staff.

It's not always easy to work for one's father, though, and in this particular case it's a dynamic made even more interesting by the fact that he is also the fellow who preceded you in your present job.

Ryan came with no misgivings, however, since it's not exactly a new situation for him. He was the quarterback of the Gaels a dozen seasons ago in his father's early years as head coach and, as such, no doubt received harsher criticism than anyone who didn't share the coach's surname would have felt.

"I appreciated the way he was hard on me as a player because it made me better," Ryan said. "I developed a thick skin; I learned how to handle pressure. I thank him for that every day.

"We have a great working relationship. We have an agreement where work is work and home life and family life is separate. That doesn't mean to say that Sunday nights at dinner the white board doesn't come out sometimes and ideas get bounced across while we're watching a game and we'll talk about this and draw what we see, but I appreciate working for him. He does things the right way and that's one of the major reasons I was receptive to his offer to come back."

Sheahan describes his season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as "a rough year but a great learning experience." After a 6-12 season, the Ticats missed the playoffs and coach George Cortez was dismissed. Sheahan, who coached the Hamilton running backs last year, was interviewed for a spot on new coach Kent Austin's staff but didn't get it.

"It's what usually happens in pro sports when leadership changes at the top," Sheahan said. "Head coaches want their own people. That's the business of the game. I didn't take it emotionally at all. Coach Austin is an intelligent man and has had success elsewhere. He brought in people that he knew and trusted and that's fine.

"I'd probably do the same thing."

Sheahan said he learned a lot from Cortez, a man he calls one of the CFL greats.

"He's one of the godfathers, he and John Hufnagel and Jacques Chapdelaine are the architects of the three-by-two offence in Canada," Sheahan said. "To learn from George, and see how he sees the game, the way he's detailed, the way he's organized, was fantastic."

Sheahan said he came back from pro ball with some ideas, but opponents shouldn't expect to see much that's radically different from what the Gaels have done with the football in recent seasons.

"There will be some slight wrinkles but the foundation of the Queen's offence will be the same," he said. "Concepts will remain the same but there will be some new things that I got to bring back from the pros and some new things that we picked up along the way. We got to do a little bit of football study in the off-season, see what was new, what we liked and what we didn't like, from clinics and talking to pro coaches.

"Same foundation. Just a few different parts."

Two days into training camp players are in the process of showing they know where to line up and what to do when they get there. Opening day at York remains little more than a week away, however, and coaches are already in evaluation mode.

"We don't jump the gun here," Sheahan said. "We try and put in a lot of work and give athletes the opportunity to be successful in multiple situations where they can prove themselves, prove that they belong here and they should stay.

"We're very veteran and right now veterans look good on paper but they still have to work. It's obvious the way the season ended in 2012 (a blown second-half lead and an overtime playoff loss at Guelph) for them was a pretty sharp sting and it motivated them in the off-season and so far what we're seeing is a group of individuals working hard every day and not looking too far into the season."
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