Quarterback Trevor Harris ready to lead Redblacks into CFL season | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Quarterback Trevor Harris ready to lead Redblacks into CFL season

Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Trevor Harris (7) makes a pass against the Montreal Alouettes during first half pre-season CFL action in Ottawa on Thursday, May 31, 2018. After a sour ending to the 2017 season, Trevor Harris decided to switch up his off-season training for a more all-encompassing program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
June 11, 2018 - 8:57 AM

OTTAWA - After a sour ending to the 2017 season, Trevor Harris decided to switch up his off-season training for a more all-encompassing program.

Harris, the Ottawa Redblacks starting quarterback when they lost the East semifinal to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last season, said he changed his diet over the winter and tweaked his throwing mechanics.

He also spent time working on the mental side of the game.

"I expanded my brain training," said Harris, who signed a one-year extension with Ottawa during the off-season. "I expanded that (by) reading new books and just doing everything I can to turn over every stone."

Harris sustained a lower-body injuring in Ottawa's first exhibition game, but said he will be ready for the season. The Redblacks open the year with a bye week and start their season at home against Saskatchewan on June 21.

Harris had solid numbers last season, completing 398-of-572 passes for 4,679 yards and 30 touchdowns, but never seemed to shake the shadow of the recently retired Henry Burris.

When the Redblacks struggled early, winning just one of their first five games, fans were calling for the return of Burris. Harris said he ignored the noise.

"This year he can truly say this is my style, this is my platform, this is the type of leader I want to be without any outside distractions from the past or what I need to be or who I need to replace," said offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo. "He needs to be who he is first and foremost."

While much of the Redblacks' success will depend on Harris, they will also hope to significantly improve on the defensive side of the ball.

Ottawa surrendered 384.8 yards-per-game last season, sixth in the CFL. The Redblacks also had just 31 sacks, compared to league-leading Calgary and Toronto, who tied with 50.

The Redblacks made a number of coaching changes and brought in Noel Thorpe, previously with Montreal, as their new defensive co-ordinator. He said the team will be much more aggressive than last year.

"We talked about wanting to get 12 hats to the football," said Thorpe. "A defence is built on team speed and I think the players they brought in helped address the needs."

Defensive back Antoine Pruneau, who has been with the Redblacks since the team's inception in 2014, said improving Ottawa's defensive play is a personal mission.

"We brought in some solid veterans who are going to make an immediate impact," said Pruneau. "We heard the talk last year and didn't like it. The guys who are back definitely feel like we have something to prove."


Here's a breakdown of the 2018 Ottawa Redblacks:

HEAD COACH: Rick Campbell, entering fifth season.

2017: Finished second in the East with 8-9-1 record; lost to Saskatchewan 31-20 in East semifinal.

NEW ADDITIONS: After losing six games by three points or less, the Redblacks needed to add more experience to their young defence. They signed 37-year-old veteran linebacker Kyries Hebert to help with that. Hebert had a career-high 110 defensive tackles last season with the Montreal Alouettes and his familiarity with newly hired defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe should go a long way in adding stability and leadership to the Redblacks. The addition of Dominique Davis as backup QB should allow the Redblacks some breathing room if Harris goes down this season. The additions of defensive lineman A.C. Leonard and defensive backs Rico Murray and Loucheiz Purifoy could also prove significant.

DEPARTED: The most notable losses for the Redblacks are the departures of defensive tackle Zack Evans, who had a team leading five sacks, and linebacker Taylor Reed. Evans decided to return home and sign with Saskatchewan, while Reed signed with Toronto. The Redblacks also traded FB Patrick Lavoie to Montreal in what many viewed was a cost-saving measure. Some of the biggest changes for the Redblacks are with their coaching staff, after choosing to part ways with four members of last year's group

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Trevor Harris opted to re-sign for one year and all eyes will be on the 33-year-old to see if he can stay healthy and lead the team on a deep playoff run. WR Diontae Spencer had a breakout season last year with 922 yards on 71 receptions and his work on the return side of the game was equally impressive. Going into his fifth season DB Antoine Pruneau will look to take on greater responsibility and leadership on the defensive side of things for Ottawa.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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