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Schultz: Hawkins era in Montreal should be interesting

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Chris Schultz
6/10/2013 1:50:03 PM
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Dan Hawkins. To tell you the truth I don't know much about him, other than his experiences in NCAA football at Colorado State and Boise State.

But this much I do know: he is about as complete an opposite of Marc Trestman as there could be. Marc was stoic, reserved and always under control - especially in terms of self-control. He did a masterful job of learning CFL football with humility and grace and taking that learning experience and producing great on-field results. Give Jim Popp credit for picking the right coach at the right time.

It was sometimes difficult to have an engaging conversation with Trestman as he viewed the media as an adversary more so than an asset. Hawkins, the Alouettes new coach, is a quote machine . He is definitely in it to win but you sense he wants to have a good time doing it as well.

My favorite Hawkins quote so far: "blessed are the flexible as they will never be bent out of shape." That was followed up with "own your own existence." And about his coaching approach: "always chasing greatness with excellence and class."

Hawkins will be fun to work with and be around. Will he win? I'm not sure. Coaches with no Canadian experience don't have a good track record but until we see him working on the sidelines, there is no sense in judging him.

I will say this about the transition from Trestman to Hawkins: if the latter could learn one thing from the former it would be the priority Trestmen put on protecting the quarterback and getting to the quarterback. It was a major emphasis and consistency of the "Trestman era" and in a passing league, a must for success.

Last year's Alouettes team was missing something and I'm not sure what it was. You can rationalize they were one dropped pass in the end zone away from another Grey Cup appearance, but there was a collective burning desire absent last year. Maybe it was just me but something invisible, not tangible, seemed to be missing.

On offence they were the best red zone team in the league, scoring 63 percent of the time, and the best at protecting the quarterback with only 30 sacks allowed.

But on the other side of the ball Montreal was dead last in red zone defence, allowing points 67 percent of the time, and on special teams dead last in both punt return yardage and coverage on opposition punts.

All that said, the reality is as long as Anthony Calvillo is healthy, Montreal is going to win games.

I don't know if it is more difficult to take over a winning program or a losing one. With a losing team the expectations are not immediate but with a winning team, you generally have good-to-great players to work with. Either way the "Hawkins experiment" is on lead by Popp. His last experiment led to two Grey Cups for Montreal; this one could be equally interesting.

Dan Hawkins (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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