The definition of provisional -- "providing or serving for the time being only; existing only until permanently or properly replaced" -- seems to be worth looking up in the dictionary today.
In a short span Saturday, the 3-0 Queen's Golden Gaels became a glamour team in the OUA. It went down in the window between Paul Boshyk finishing off the 24-20 win over once-mighty McMaster with a last-minute interception and the Western Mustangs inventing ways to lose a game.
The Gaels are 3-0 on merit as much as Western is 0-3 on merit... yet, still, it feels provisional. Ephemeral, even. It's the same Gaels crew that went 4-4 last season playing a schedule that didn't have Laurier on it, a little older and wiser, plus there's a feeling luck has played a bit of part in being able to come back in the second half three weeks in a row.
Pat Tracey's defence is bending but not breaking. Mac had 389 yards on Saturday and ran 66 plays to Queen's 59, but QB Adam Archibald (who might have a possible concussion) was held under six yards per pass and had only one completion go for more than 25. You could send chills down the spines of Marauders coaches by sidling up to them and whispering, "Osie Ukwuoma," after the Gaels defensive end, heretofore known for that fake-field-goal catch in last year's playoff win in Hamilton, had five tackles and a big sack.
The retooled offensive line is making it possible to strike a good run-pass balance on offence. Mike Giffin, scored all three Gaels touchdowns and tallied 208 yards to take over the conference lead in yards from scrimmage while QB Dan Brannagan put up his best stat line in more than a year with 273 yards on 17-of-29 passing with no picks.
Are the Gaels this good, though? For a fan, keeping a humble exterior seems like the way to go, at least for another week. They're winning games the right way, that's for sure. Saturday's nationally televised tilt vs. Windsor is all kinds of fraught — the long trip to southwestern Ontario, the 1-2 Lancers have a need to play desperate and owning three straight wins over the Gaels by a combined nine points. Win this, and the Gaels have a shot at going 6-2.
So it means no rubbing it in. No smug e-mails to random media outlets in Southern Ontario, say the London Free Press, asking if they would be overjoyed if the Mustangs manage to end up the "4-4, but a scary 4-4" that was so patronizingly predicted for Queen's back in the pre-season. (Besides, a sports fan with Kingston ties can only feel smug toward the city of London until the Frontenacs and Knights start playing games that count in the OHL standings.)
It's just hard to wrap one's mind around that a team that got little pre-season billing will be getting so much hype this week. The Gaels are good, but for that reason it's a different kind of scary good.
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