Mustangs lose 'Mr. Everything'

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

The good news is that Matt Carapella of the Western Mustangs is only expected to be out two to four weeks with a knee injury.

The bad news is the Mustangs are going to have to find at least four players to replace Mr. Everything. They will have to replace Carapella as a starting defensive back, starting slotback, holder for kicker Derek Schiavone and special teams player.

It could have been worse. It certainly looked worse when Carapella was helped off the field in the first quarter of Monday night's Ontario

university football opener against the Queen's Golden Gaels, who came back from

14 points down to defeat the

Mustangs 26-20 in overtime.

"I guess it's good news for a knee injury," Carapella said as he hobbled to practice in a brace and on crutches. "It's a strained ligament. It doesn't feel like good news, but I'm hoping to be back in three weeks."

Carapella looked like he was injured during a Mustang punt, but Western head coach Greg Marshall says he was hurt a play earlier when he caught a 17-yard pass.

"But he got up, walked back and sort of held his knee," Marshall said. "He took a play on special teams and then realized that he was hurt."

"I got undercut, but I thought it was just a charleyhorse," Carapella said. "I thought, 'Shake it off.' But during the next play, the knee felt wobbly, like it had a loose bolt."

Which begs the question, what's a guy who plays defence, offence and holds the football for your kicker doing on special teams?

"Good question," Marshall said. "He wants to do it all. He wants to play on special teams. He was adamant that he didn't want his playing offence to affect his special teams.

"We were only going to play him 25, 30 plays on offence. But he was quickly becoming our best receiver. We're

going to have to cut down on something."

Not that Carapella couldn't help the Mustangs on special teams. They were anything but special against the Gaels. They were sloppy and inattentive, two things that really burn the head coach.

Back to Carapella.

"I've never been hurt in my life. Four years, not even a sprained ankle," he said. "I don't know what to do with myself. It was really hard, especially watching the team lose and not being able to go out there and help."

Carapella was looking forward to playing a huge role on both sides of the line with the Mustangs.

"I had a great spring, so much to look forward to. It was such a letdown," he said. "But there are a lot worse things in the world. I'll be back."

The loss of Carapella hurt the Mustangs more on defence than offence against the Gaels.

Once the Gaels realized that Carapella was out of the Mustangs defensive backfield, they tried to exploit it and were successful.

But Marshall thought that as the second half progressed, the Mustang defence got tired.

"I don't know if that's a function of conditioning or a long training camp," Marshall said. "The new field is excellent but it's sand and rubber based. It's soft. We've had more tired legs and pulls than normal. We've had a lot less contact injuries which is good. We're in good shape. As coaches, maybe we've got to back off a little."

Marshall spent the day yesterday looking at films. As ugly as some of the pictures were, he broke down every offensive play.

"We had too many mental errors, too many protection busts," said Marshall, who took some of the heat off his offensive line. "There were times when we got physically beaten and there's not much you can do for that. But when you have some systems breakdown and mental errors, you have to take responsibility as a coach and coaching staff.

"If you thought you taught it and they didn't execute it, you've got to teach them better."

After watching Monday's game, Marshall took a look at McMaster Marauders videos. The Mustangs go to Hamilton on Saturday to play the Marauders. The Marauders also lost their opener, 36-26 to Wilfrid Laurier.

It's going to be another week hyping the return of Greg Marshall. This time it will be hyping the fact his Mustangs will be taking on a team he built into a national power.

Hype, smype. What Marshall and his team really need is a win.


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