Moffat: Ex-NFL coach and player Schonert high on Smith

Rick Moffat
7/30/2014 5:24:00 PM
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The Als couldn't have found more polar opposites when hiring their new “coaching consultants.” 

Don Matthews was, for a time, the winningest coach in CFL history, while Turk Schonert, the longtime NFL QB and assistant coach who went to two Super Bowls with the Bengals, had no idea so much motion was allowed pre-snap after attending Alouettes practice for the first time.

“Just soaking it in, it's strange for me to come in and watch football and be quiet and just observe,” admitted the 57-year old former 1980 NFL Draft pick, now head coach Tom Higgins' designated “fly on the wall.”

Matthews, a former Grey Cup Champion head coach with the Als in 2002, who spent time with the club last season and took great satisfaction in watching his prodigy Noel Thorpe contact high-risk high-reward blitzes worthy of “The Don.”

Schonert was in the mix to join the Alouettes a year ago, having interviewed with GM Jim Popp and owner Robert Wetenhall for the team's head coaching position before the ill-fated hire of Dan Hawkins.

His number one task at the moment is finding ways to help the struggling offense. 

“It's not just the quarterback...he's talented,” Schonert pointed out.  “He (Troy Smith) was in the UFL when I was coaching at Sacramento he was with Omaha.  I know Bart Andrus (the former Argos head coach) and he said a lot of great things about Troy.

“You know he's talented -- he won the Heisman Trophy, and you know about his athleticism, so Troy has to keep working and improving, but everybody around him has to keep working and believing.”

Smith welcomes the new set of eyes, even if the first impression was coloured by the “fly on the wall” approach.

“I was around him all day and he didn't say one word so it gives you an eerie feeling,” admitted the former Ohio State hero under fire in Montreal now that his passing efficiency rating has dropped to ninth in the league.

Still, Higgins admitted Schonert didn't know about the 20-second play-clock pace the Als practice with in order to replicate game speed. 

So how can a man with no CFL experience help a struggling starting QB?

“Sounds like me,” Smith chuckled with an infectious laugh.  “There's different things he brings to the table and hopefully he'll help us out.”

If Schonert isn't able to get Smith and the offence on track, former Als recently-retired greats Anthony Calvillo and Ben Cahoon are waiting in the wings for the opportunity.

Troy Smith (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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