Preview: Guelph @ Windsor

Early on I debated whether or not I wanted to drive to Ottawa and Windsor on consecutive weekends, but my wife was persuasive. She and I will heading down to the border city tomorrow morning in order to watch the game.

Lancers logoThe University of Windsor’s Alumni Field stadium isn’t large but it is one of the nicer ones in the OUA.

Another thing I look forward to is seeing Al and Betty Nesbitt. I’m counting on the always supportive parents to be there. Their son and former Gryphon captain Matt Nesbitt is in his first season as the Lancers offensive coordinator.

This is a critical game for the Gryphons. A loss to the Lancers would kill most of the remaining optimism  for this season. I just don’t see that happening. As I said last week, the Gryphons are younger than expected but very talented. It’s only a matter of time before they put it all together to use a cliche.

Guelph has 8 new starter on defense with two of the 4 veterans playing new positions. On offense the team has been playing with half a dozen new starters. Receiver Kian Shaffer-Baker will make his first start of 2018 this week after seeing his first action in Ottawa. His one-handed catch made TSN Sport Centre’s Top 10: Must See Moments as the #1 highlight of the past week.

Lost on the defensive side is starting safety Dotun Aketepe. He will be replaced by freshman Brendan Murphy who moves from the boundary half and is replaced there by Jason Richards. I am not sure if he will be dressed but I’m happy to see DT Dewan Soyer’s name on the 55-man roster. He would be seeing his first action since 2016 if he plays

Previews and Related links

Lancers.ca – for the second year in a row, the Windsor website does not appear to have a preview of the game but here is their recap of their loss last week to York.

Gryphons.caGryphons head to Windosr for Week 4 matchup

“Our offence is building chemistry, which is allowing us to make big plays,” said Fraser, who feels the unit will be tough to handle going forward. “Every week in practice, the intensity is getting higher. I feel like being 1-2 (record wise) is fueling us to achieve greatness for the rest of the season.”

I really hope that Zeph Fraser is right. It does make some sense. The offensive unit does have significant talent, which gives them the potential to be very good.

“Our defence has played teams tough so far through the first three games,” said Galloway. “I look for them to continue to give opponents trouble.”

There is truth there. The D has been good. What I’d like to see is fewer passing yards being given up because we haven’t faced one of the OUA’s top offensive teams yet.

OUA.ca55-man rosters and depth charts

I count 15 true freshmen on the Gryphon 55-man roster, 5 are them [DB Brendan Murphy, LB Uriel Kalenga, DE Tavuis Robinson, DT Jeremy Kapelinski and RB Kwame Osei] are listed as starters for tomorrow’s game. Two others [OT Liam Lapointe and WR Kiondre Smith] have started in previous games.

Recent series History

Guelph is 9-2 against Windsor since 2007. The losses were in 2011 and 2016. Those two losses correspond with low points for the Gryphons in the past decade. Guelph was 2-6 in 2011 and 3-5 in 2016. It would be a really bad sign for 2018 if Windsor were to win tomorrow.

2017 – 82-10 Guelph
2016 – 33-29 Windsor
2015 – 41-27 Guelph
2014 – 24-9  Guelph
2013 – 31-21 Guelph [Q-Final playoff game]
2013 – 24-23 Guelph
2012 – 28-9 Guelph
2011 – 41-21 Windsor
2010 – 41-14 Guelph
2009 – did not play
2008 – 34-8 Guelph
2007 – 36-10 Guelph

Broadcast options

TV:  local cable? I’m not sure.
Radio:  none
Online:  www.oua.tv

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Preview: Gryphons vs GeeGees in Ottawa

QF 2017 Brandon Gordon

Ball carrier Brandon Gordon rushes vs uO GeeGees Photo:MeganPickett

On paper this game looks like a good matchup. The two teams have gone to double overtime in two of the last three games. They head into this game with Ottawa ranked #9 and Guelph #8.

Coming off their 18-11 victory over McMaster, a victory over the GeeGees would be meaningful and help evaluate where the Gryphons are in the OUA pecking order.

My Quick Thoughts

Coming into the season the Gyrphons were supposed to be a young but talented team. To date, the Gryphons have been even younger than expected. That has meant 6 new starters on offense and 8 on defense. That has produced some growing pains.

This team may be young but it is still solid along the line of scrimmage, and that is where Guelph has had an advantage over Ottawa in recent years. Consider for example, Guelph sacked the Ottawa QB 14 times in the two meetings in 2017.

I will be surprised if Ottawa doesn’t follow the Mac/York game plan, and foregoes any serious effort to establish the run. [Quick reminder: the Guelph D held the GeeGees to 72 and 88 rushing yards in last year’s games.] So. look for the GeeGees to come out passing on most downs, using the run occasionally as a change-up.

On offense, I hope the Gryphons continue to run the ball, allowing the run to set up the pass. OC Joncas has gone with a running back by committee approach but been flexible enough to feed the ball to the hot back. That was freshmen Juwan Jeffery last week.

Ultimately, the success of the running game depends on the O-Line winning the battles up front. My hope is our O-Line plays the way they did in last year’s playoff game when they paved the way for a 300-yd rushing game. From my review of that game last year

Guelph’s offensive line was dominant throughout the game. They paved the way for a 300-yard rushing game and allowed just 1 sack. I’m not the only one who noticed. The Gee-Gees broadcasters summarized it pretty well for me …

That O-Line is really winning the battles in the trenches for the Gryphons.

Also, in the 1st Half …

You have to give credit to the Guelph O-Line. They have been doing a fantastic job today.

And in the 2nd Half …

In terms of the game in the trenches Guelph has been DOMINATING. Their O-Line has just been absolutely dominating this Gee-Gees D-Line. It’s not even a contest.

In Weeks 1 and 2 the Gryphons weren’t ready to compete for a championship. What I’m looking for is progress from week to week. If the Gryphons take another step forward tomorrow, they can beat this Ottawa team.

Game Previews

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons travel to Ottawa for matchup with GeeGees

“We have another big game ahead and know that Ottawa is a tough team,” said Galloway, who registered his first W as a head coach against York. “They will definitely remember our playoff game last fall and will be motivated to defend their own field.”

GeeGees.ca:  I did not find a preview for this game

OUA website: Week 3  55-man Rosters

The series since 2007

This series has shifted. There were close games in 2007 & 2008. Then it was rather one-sided in favour of Ottawa from 2009 to 2011. The teams did not meet in 2012 or 2013. The tide turned strongly in favour of the Gryphons for two years. Things couldn’t have been closer than a pair of games decided in double OT.

2017 – 30 – 8 Guelph [OUA Q-Final]
2017 – 24-21 (2OT) Ottawa
2016 – 31–28 (2OT) Ottawa
2015 – 48 – 26 Guelph
2014 – 42 – 7  Guelph
2011 – 35 – 8  Ottawa
2010 – 54 – 11 Ottawa
2009 – 50 – 26 Ottawa
2008 – 42 – 37  Ottawa [OUA Q-Final]
2007 – 31 – 23 Ottawa

Broadcast

The only place to watch the game live is OUA.tv.

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Gryphons win home opener over York

2018 vs York.jpg

Game Stories and Recaps

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons get first win of 2018 33-18 over York

OUA.ca: Box Score & Game Stats//

519 Sports Online: video highlights

Quick Thoughts & Notes

♦  A nice crowd on a beautiful day. Announced attendance of 5,569 including many frosh. The stands remained relatively full well into the 4th Q.

♦  The York Lions really do look like an improved team. They were as good as any version of the team that I’ve seen in the past dozen years. Their out-of-province recruiting has really helped their program – the Hunchak brothers from Calgary, starting o-linemen from BC & AB, 3 starting DBs from Edmonton, running back from Saskatchewan et cetera.

♦  The victory was Todd Galloway’s first as a U Sports head coach.

♦  It was a breakout day for freshman running back Juwan Jeffery who had 18 carries for 129 yards. That was part of a team rushing effort that topped 250 yards.

♦  We saw the real Gabriel Ferraro again as the 1st Team All Canadian proved last week’s 2 of 5 performance was an outlier, bouncing back with a perfect 4 for 4 outing in the field goal department. Ferraro also had what I think is probably his best overall performance of his career as a punter – 6 punts, 41.0 yd average & 3 inside the 20.

♦  After a relatively clean game penalty-wise [6-44yds] at McMaster the Gryphons regressed against York, taking 15 for 149 yards. Penalties were a real problem for the offense in particular. On one 1st Q drive, 4 penalties for 45 yards cost the offense dearly. According to the drive summary Guelph started on at their own 35, ran 13 plays for 53 yards and finished with a 29-yd FG. Guelph actually gained 123 yards, but had gains of 25 and 9 nullified by penalty. On two other plays the gains counted but the Gryphons were backed 30 yards by two other penalties.

♦  Key play of the game? Probably Job Reinhart’s 3rd Q interception return for a touchdown. Guelph never looked back after that.

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Players of the Week

U Sports FOOTBALL Top 10  

Rank School Record Media Pts
(1st place)
ELO Points Total Points Prev. Ranking
1 Western 1-0 123 (9) 130 253 1
2 Laval 2-0 116 (3) 117 233 2
3 Montreal 1-0 99 91 190 3
4 Laurier 2-0 80 104 184 4
5 Calgary 1-0 93 (1) 78 171 5
6 UBC 1-0 71 65 136 6
7 Carleton 1-1 24 39 63 NR
8 Guelph 1-1 8 52 60 8
9 Ottawa 1-1 24 26 50 NR
10 Saskatchewan 1-0 25 0 25 NR
   Other teams receiving votes: Regina (20), Queen’s (14), St. Mary’s (12), Manitoba (9), Waterloo (6), McMaster (4)

 

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Preview: York Lions at Guelph

york lions logo

Game previews & related links

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons host York in pivotal Week 2 clash

“The guys have rebounded well,” said Galloway. “They understand that we came out of our last week thinking that was a game we could have won. The energy and focus as been good. It’s a Labour Day Monday game and a home opener so the crowd should be big. We want to add excitement and focus on having great energy.”

YorkLions.ca: There is no preview but here is the story on their Week 1 loss – Lions start strong but fall to Gaels

“I thought we were the better football team in the first half,” said head coach Warren Craney. “I thought we dominated with the exception of the last 45 seconds of the second quarter where we made some poor decisions and instead of going into the half up 12-10 we were down 17-12. That said I still thought we were the better team and we just need to build off the way we played in the first half.”

OUA.ca:  55-man rosters not available yet

My Thoughts and Expectations

The Lions showed they have a respectable offense in their season opener against Queen’s. QB Brett Hunchak completed 33 of 49 attempts for 370 yards and two TDs with one interception. Overall, the Lions produced 454 yards of offense and a very healthy 32 1st downs. The Lions could actually be entertaining and challenge the Gryphon defense.

The entire Mac offense was based on ball-control passing, with their few running plays being draws or QB scrambles. York had a few more rushing attempts vs. Queen’s  (23) than the Marauders. I mention this because Coach Galloway has said the focus this year on defense is stopping the run, yet this will be the second game in a row where the Gryphons face a pass-focused offense. It will be interesting to see how they defend the Lions.

I expect the Gryphon offense will have a much easier time this week than last if they have eliminated/reduced their execution problems. I expect the passing game to be much more productive. It would be nice to see them score 40 or 50 points.

This is a must win game for the Gryphons but I’m not worried about the outcome. And, while Guelph’s talent advantage is great enough to ensure they win, I’m hopeful that York can actually make the game entertaining for a quarter or two. I will be disappointed if we don’t see back-up QB Brayden Lassemba, and possibly #3 QB Michael Scarfone, get into the game for some extended action.

The series since 2007

Rather one-sided to say the least. I don’t think that changes too much tomorrow.

2016 – 52-8 Guelph
2015 – 49–22 Guelph
2013 – 33–7  Guelph
2012 – 39–18  Guelph
2011 –  51–2  Guelph
2010 –  26–2  Guelph
2009 –  66–8  Guelph
2008 –  48-2  Guelph
2007 –  47-7  Guelph

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Gryphons lose opener at Mac

If you read my expectations for the game then you’ll know that Sunday’s loss was a HUGE disappointment to me. The fact it was a one-point game [16-15} almost didn’t matter.

I had a bad feeling from the moment of the first missed FG. The second missed FG, also in the 2nd Q, only made the feeling worse. Not taking advantage of scoring opportunities has been a real problem in games Guelph has lost to McMaster since 2014.

My other thought, as the game was playing out, was that the Gryphons were not running the ball enough. The Mac D never proved they could shut down the run. The only time Mac did a decent job of slowing down our running game was on the 1st Q touchdown drive when it took 4 attempts to get the ball into the end zone from the 5-yd line.

IMO Guelph let the Marauders off the hook by not running the ball more. I would have liked to see our O-Line given the chance to wear down the smaller Mac D.

2018 OLine vs Mac.jpg

Offensive linemen (l-r) 66 Liam Lapointe, 67 Coulter Woodmansey, 60 Colin Jerome, 64 Ben Petrie, 68 Eric Starczala       Photo: Gerry Fraser

Perhaps I’m wrong about this game and/or my expectations for this season. I plan on re-watching the game on OUA.tv before drawing any more conclusions.

Game Stories and Recaps

Gryphons.ca:  Marauders edge Gryphons in defensive battle

“Our defence played really well today and gave us a great chance to win the game. We just had a few too many execution errors on the day,” said Gryphon head coach Todd Galloway.

No question, the defense played well. I have bigger concerns than just “execution errors”.

The Hamilton Spectator:  Young Mac Marauders make their mark in 16-15 win to Guelph

After an ugly start that saw them trailing 10-0 after 15 minutes of football and 12-6 at the half, the Marauders found a way to regroup and respond. The result was a 16-15 come-from-behind win in front of a sweat-soaked sellout crowd at Ron Joyce Stadium.

Marauders.ca:  Maraudres edge Guelph 16-15 in season opener

“We learned we’ve got some grit, some perseverance, and the kids have really come together and they stuck together well in a game that had all kinds of adversity,” said head coach Greg Knox.

This ^^^ makes complete sense. The Marauders were gritty and obviously persevered.

Knox was pleased the entire team responded with a lock down mindset to close the game.

Lock-down may have been their “mindset”, but the game was still Guelph’s for the taking right down until the last 30 seconds. In the 4th Q, Guelph averaged 6 yards per carry. The problem was all 6 pass attempts fell incomplete. I say “fell incomplete” because in almost every case the receiver was open but the ball was off the mark. Other than one sack there wasn’t much lock-down by the McMaster D. A Marauder roughing-the-passer penalty aided the Gryphons more than the sack hurt.

OUA.ca: Box score  &  Game Stats

The stats are always interesting to look but you can’t accept those from yesterday’s game as 100% reliable. I checked back tonight to see that some of the errors and omissions have been corrected. The remaining inconsistencies relate primarily to special teams.  For example, rookie receiver Kiondre Smith returned 8 punts for over 100 yards. The OUA stats credit him with 8 returns for -12 yards.

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Players of the Game

2018 Wk 1 pog.jpg

When I read the details of the OUA Players of the Week I couldn’t help but wonder why Luke Korol wasn’t selected. His 11 tackles [5 solo/6 asstd] put him a couple of steps above the winner in my opinion. Cornerback Graham Brodie was the second leading tackler for the Gryphons with 5 solo tackles. Kade Belak was the leading Gryphon receiver with 4 receptions for 39 yards. Freshman Kiondre Smith returned 8 punts for 100+ yards and one kickoff for 27 yards in his first U Sports game.

U Sports Football Top 10

The season’s first came out today (Tuesday) and I’ll admit to being a little bit surprised to see the Gryphons in it. But, it also makes some sense that Guelph and Mac be ranked as closely as they are.

RANK SCHOOL RECORD MEDIA POINTS
(1ST)
ELO POINTS   TOTAL POINTS LAST WEEK
1 Western 1-0 116 (7) 130 246
2 Laval 1-0 112 (3) 117 229
3 Montreal 1-0 106 (2) 104 210
4 Laurier 1-0 79 91 170
5 Calgary 0-0 88 (1) 78 166
6 UBC 0-0 68 65 133
7 McMaster 1-0 32 39 71
8 Guelph 0-1 2 52 54
9 Queen’s 1-0 13 26 39
10 Regina 0-0 28 0 28
Honourable mention: Carleton (25), Acadia (21), Saint Mary’s (10), Alberta (5), Concordia (4)

*     *     *

Korol tackle.jpg

LB Luke Korol wraps up Mac RB for one of his 5 solo tackles     Photo: Gerry Fraser

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Preview: Season Opener – Guelph at McMaster

Football season is finally here!

You have to love the season opener. It’s even better when you play a quality team in a meaningful match-up. This game at McMaster is one of the two most important on the 2018 schedule in my opinion. Week 6 @Laurier is the other.

Coaches will talk about every game being of equal importance, focusing on one game at a time, not looking ahead, etc. but fans don’t think that way.

Marauder logo.jpgThis is a rivalry game.

The Mac-Guelph rivalry has been as heated as ever the past half-dozen years. The Marauders threw some gasoline on that fire when they taunted the Gryphons with a vulgar chant after their upset win at Alumni Stadium last year. Nobody is talking about it but that unsportsmanlike action resulted in the Marauder program being sanctioned by the OUA.

The Gryphons have a chance, not only to get revenge for last season, but to end an ugly streak – Guelph has never won a game at Mac’s Ron Joyce Stadium. The Gryphons last win in Hamilton was a quarter-final playoff win at Ivor Wynne Stadium back in 2007.

The Marauders are still in rebuilding mode, making this a perfect opportunity to end that streak.

Game previews & related links:

OUA.ca website: Week 1 55-Man Rosters

Gryphons.ca: There is no preview of Sunday’s game yet, but you can check out their preview of the Gryphons 2018 season.

McMaster.ca: No specific game preview but you can find some “Game Notes” here

Hamilton Spectator/The Spec.com: No preview found but there is a story on Mac’s new DC

My Take on this Game

Without doubt, this is an IMPORTANT game.

The Marauders are one of 8 OUA teams expected to compete for 6 playoff spots. No team can afford to lose any games to these rivals because it will impact playoff seeding, even if it doesn’t cost them a playoff spot.

The Marauders are a team Guelph has had problems with in recent years. They are  the proverbial monkey on our back. The Gryphons have won more games against Western and Laurier over the last five years than they have against the Marauders. To make matters worse, we’ve lost multiples games to Mac that we should have won. Time to end that.

While the Gryphons may be a young team, they appear to have a decided advantage over the Marauders along the lines of scrimmage. That is an advantage in both talent and experience in my opinion.

One place where the Gryphons are vulnerable is in the defensive secondary. They gave up too many passing yards in last week’s preseason game at Laval. But Mac isn’t on par with Laval. The Gryphon D, led by their front 7, needs to smother the Mac running game, then bring “hellacious” pressure on the young Mac quarterback. That is doable in my opinion.

On offense the key is to get the running game rolling. That has to include QB Theo Landers. I want to see Theo running the ball the way he did in his 3 starts last year. Then mix in the pass the way we saw him do it in the East-West Bowl. As I see it, that is the recipe for offensive success this season.

The Gryphon O-Line should be able to create the holes necessary to establish the run early on. We saw them do that in the 1st Q at Laval. The QB run becomes necessary to keep the defense honest. Once the Rouge et Or realized we weren’t going to utilize Theo that way they were able to shutsown our running game.  Theo averaged 7.1 yards per rush and 96 rushing yards per game in his 3 starts last year.

Landers run

Theo Landers runs for a first down vs Mac     Photo: Megan Pickett

I liked what I saw of our running backs in Quebec City. I think we were going to see the tandem of Jamal Hooker and Daniel Palmer-Salmon do the bulk of the work early in the season but the unfortunate injury to DPS will require Patrick Pierre or Kwame Osei to step up. When the run game is working we’ve seen that Theo’s passing efficiency can be much better than what we saw last week.

Coach Galloway has that he wants the Gryphons to control the ball and stop the run. That matches perfectly with what I’m saying. If we can achieve that to any significant degree, I believe Guelph will win and it won’t be a nail-biter.

Recent Series History

McMaster has a clear edge in the series over the past decade. Mac has 12-3 edge since 2007 but the Marauders have had the advantage of hosting 9 of those 15 games. The Marauders also hold 29-19 advantage in regular season games since the OUA was founded in 1971.  The Gryphons are winless at Mac’s Ron Joyce Stadium which opened in 2008.

2017 – Mac 29-9
2016 – Mac 17-11 [OUA Q-Final]
2016 – Mac 27-15
2015 – Guelph 33-23
2014 – Mac 20-15 [Yates Cup]
2014 – Mac 34-27 OT
2013 – Guelph 24-22

Broadcast Info

TV: Live on Hamilton’s Cable 14 and Burlington/Oakville’s YourTV

LIVE STREAM: OUA.tv Click on LIVE EVENTS

RADIO: TSN 1150 & their live stream of the broadcast

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The Laval loss 2 days later

I had a great time in Quebec City. Three days was not enough time to fully see and enjoy the city. I will definitely go back their again.

The game itself was the disappointment of the trip but the experience at the game was great. The stadium, it’s location, the tailgate area, the event staff and Rouge et Or fans were all excellent, friendly and exceeded my expectations. I can only imagine how much fun it would be for a big game with a sold out crowd.

Tailgate at Laval.jpg

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The Player Participation list of the Gryphons who dressed for the game …

GUELPH: 1-Zeph Fraser, 2-Jamal Hooker, 3-A.J. Chase, 4-Uriel Kalenga, 5-D. Palmer-Salmo, 6-Ben Cadman, 7-A. Cimankinda,
8-B. Lassenba, 9-M. Scarfone, 10-Gabe Ferraro, 11-Kyle Funk, 12-Kiondre Smith, 13-Akeem Knowles, 15-Anthony Hall,
16-Brendan Murphy, 17-Theo Landers, 18-Kade Belyk, 19-Graham Brodie, 20-Ryan Isenor, 21-Kwame Osei, 22-B. Schofield,
23-Patrick Pierre, 24-Aidan Fraser, 25-Simon Chaves, 26-Dotun Aketepe, 27-A.K. Ismail, 28-J. Cimankinda, 30-Juwan Jeffrey,
31-D. Serravalle, 32-Elijah Walker, 33-Ben Lack, 34-Josh Cassista, 35-Lukas Brennan, 36-Jason Richards, 38-Tyler Thompson,
39-Cole Wilkinson, 40-A. Mielczarek, 41-Alexander Jafs, 44-Carter Wilson, 50-Job Reinhart, 51-Etienne Roy, 52-A.J. Allen,
53-Luke Korol, 55-Brandon Ferigo, 57-S. Masterson, 59-J. Kapelanski, 60-Colin Jerome, 61-Nathan Monk, 62-Stuart Allan,
63-Spencer Swan, 64-Ben Petrie, 66-Liam Lapointe, 67-C. Woodmansey, 68-Eric Starczala, 70-Eric Stranz, 77-Malcolm Ofori,
80-Noah Johns, 81-T. Bresciani, 82-Jayden Kelly, 83-Michael O'Shea, 88-Sam Lewis, 89-N. Mirijello, 90-Daniel Fascione,
92-Justin Jelacic, 93-Charlie Taggart, 94-Tavius Robinson, 95-Robert Proner, 96-Sam Bergeron, 99-Greg Corfield.

The game started pretty well for the Gryphons with a 52-yd drive that ended with a 45-yd Gabriel Ferraro FG, putting the Gryphons up 3-0. It was mostly down hill from there for the offense.

There were a few positives

♦ The defense was pretty solid throughout the first half – i.e. with the starters in. They gave up 2 TDs, but those were Laval’s only two sustained drives. The Gryphon D forced 4 two-&-outs. The only other Laval drive in the 1st Half over 8 yards was a 4-play drive for 23 yards that was ended by an Akeem Knowles interception.

♦ There were 4 newcomers, including 3 freshmen, in the starting lineup for the defense – Carter Wilson, Uriel Kalenga, Brendan Murphy and Jeremy Kapelinski. Freshmen DE Tavius Robinson rotated in throughout the half.

Gabe Ferraro had a solid game with a booming kickoff, a 45-yd FG and a strong punting performance [4 punts for a 41 yard average]

♦ The Gryphons were not pushed around, other than possibly in the 3rd Q. Laval’s total offense was only 351 yards.

Where did things go wrong?

From my perspective, the problems were almost entirely on offense.

It looked to me like the Gryphons tied their own hands on offense by limiting what they allowed the quarterback to do.

If our offense is going to be successful it will have to rely on the legs of Theo Landers. He is not a pocket passer and his passing success is going to come as a result of his ability to make the running game work. The run will have to setup the pass.

Landers had 3 carries for 4 yards and those runs looked to be on broken plays. I never saw him run a QB draw, QB power or pull the ball and run on a read-option play. The Rouge et Or clearly seemed to have respect for Landers’ running ability, if for no other reason than what they saw him do in the East-West Bowl game. Once they realized he was not going to run the ball, Laval simply keyed on the running back and our success on the ground dried up.

Theo did not throw the ball particularly well. That was a problem versus Laval but it doesn’t worry me for the regular season. Theo’s passing gets better once he gets in a groove and has the running game churning.  In fact, in the E-W game he was 0-5 or 1-5 passing. Then things began to click and he finishes the game as the leading passer.

If the #1 goal Saturday was to keep Theo healthy then it was mission accomplished. Unfortunately, that came with an ugly result on the scoreboard. If I’m wrong about “keeping Theo healthy” being the primary concern, and this really is the offense we’re going to see throughout 2018, then we’re in trouble in which case the Gryphons will never meet the expectations I have for them.

While the defensive stats may have been better than the score would indicate the Gryphon defense did have trouble defending against the pass. While they did not give up a deep pass at any time in the game, Laval hurt the Gryphons with medium range passes [8-15 yards].  With an almost entirely new defensive backfield and a new SAM LB that wasn’t a huge surprise. Hopefully, the lessons of this game will be learned quickly.

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Game day thread -Guelph at Laval

Final thoughts…

The score, 46-3, was very unflattering. Laval was unequivocally the better team.

As I said, the run game was good early on. What I realized as the game went on was that the QB never pulled the ball and ran. I’m thinking that was a pregame decision to protect the health of our QBs, given the limited depth and shortage of experience.  A couple QB keepers for 1st downs by Theo would have changed a lot.

Brayden Lassemba showed he has some elusiveness on several scrambles even though he was still looking to pass.

+ + +

First half thoughts…

Running game was better than expected especially early. Passing game not good.  Theo didn’t pass as well as we saw at E-W game.

Defense was very good against the run  but gave up too much in passing plays of 10+ yards. We needed more pressure.

The big disappointment of 1st half was the failure to convert on 3rd amd less than a yard. Tried to run a read option play from the shotgun. I’d rather have seen a QB power run or Landers under centre to sneak the ball.

Here’s hoping for a strong second-half from the back-ups.

+ + +

Just minutes away from kickoff. A beautiful day in Quebec City. Sunny and warm, not too hot.

Gryphons enter the stadium in all red uniforms.  Laval is in all black unis with gold helmets.

Elisabeth Duncan recorded the entrance on Facebook live. Apparently I am tagged also. Check it out.

Laval to kick off. Isenor brings it out to 20. Hooker runs for 6 on first. And 9 yards on 2nd.  Now 15 yds on 1st. Guelph at the 50. Landers for 5. A nice drive almost ended w INT. Penalty laval.3rd down in fg range. Injury time out.

RB Daniel Palmer Salmon with a likel ankle injury. Ferraro hits 46 yd FG. 3-0 Guelph

Laval starts on 35. At 55 two plays later. 1yd gain followed by Akeem Knowles interception.  Guelph ball at Laval 43.

Guelph givesit back with int. Pick 6. 7-3 Laval. Game is 6 minutes old.

Juwan Jeffery w return of 33 yards.2 plays and Guelph punts from their 33. Laval on their 35. 2 yd gain. TO Laval..R&O punt. Kiondre Smith punt return to 37. Hooker runs for 5. Pass thru Z Fraser,s hands. Punt. Penalties offset. Repunt.

L on 48. 4 yd gain. 10 yd pass compl for 1st down. Another pass for 1st down. 2 plays L 1st down. TD Laval 14-3. Under 2 minutes in 1st Q.

2nd and 12th Landers overthrows open receiver Bellic. Would have been a big first down now they’re punting. Gryphons concede a safety. 16 free Les 16/3 Laval

Short about fight after short drive. 12 * 6 + 55. And a nice run by Pierre give Guelph first down at the 35. Pass interference Laval offsetting Guelph penalty second into after 27. 3rd and half a yard. Gryphons lose a couple yards.

2 and out Laval punts from 35. Guelph ball at their 35. 2 and out Guelph. Laval ball at their 35. Nice Laval drive has picked up a couple 1st downs. Ball at UG 47. RO back 5 on penalty then a 25 completion. A couple more 1st down then TD Laval.  23-3 with 2.36 left in half.

Teams trade a couple of two and outs. Ten seconds left Guelph punting from endzone. They conced another safety. 25-3 at the half.

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Some pre-game reading for you …

https://www.journaldequebec.com/2018/08/16/un-premier-test-face-aux-gryphons-de-guelph

https://www.journaldequebec.com/2018/08/17/une-revolution-francaise-chez-les-gryphons The interesting thing in this story is that two of the Quebec freshmen will be in the starting lineup today. Liam Lapointe will step in for Andy McFalls at LT. McFalls broke his hand this week. On defence Jeremey Kapelanski will start at 3-Tech DT spot.

I hope to update the thread throughout the day. Off to the tailgate now.

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Preview: preseason game @ Laval

Quick thoughts …

  • I’ve been looking forward to this game since we first heard rumours of it back in February.
  • My first visit to Quebec City has been great so far. Our hotel is right on the edge of the Grand Allee entertainment district. There are outdoor cafe all along the block, both sides of the street. The city’s Comedy Festival is on and it is in a park one block away. There is an art festival in the park beside the hotel. Lots to do, not enough time.
  • The main event is still football. We plan to arrive at the tailgate between 9 and 10. Kickoff is tomorrow at 1 pm. Look for my red Atlanta Falcons canopy tent at the tailgate party and stop by to say hello.
  • I’m hearing rumours that this game has been well promoted and could draw a crowd larger than 10.000. I suggested in recent weeks that 8-9.000 was what was expected.
  • Injuries haven’t been a major issue in training camp thus far, but there are a few scratches for this game. LT Andy McFalls and RB Harry Robinson won’t play. I’m also assuming that is why the names of sophomore LB Jared Beeksma and freshman DT Afram Jolak are not on tomorrow’s game roster.
  • I had pegged Beeksma as one of the leading candidates for the vacant SAM LB position. With him out I will be really interested to see who plays there.
  • Laval and Guelph have never played before but there still are some interesting connections. For example, Gryphon OC J-F Joncas is a former Laval player. More than a few R&O players were coached by Joncas during his time at Champlain-Lennoxville. Several current Laval players were actively recruited by the Gryphons. Many of the 8 Gryphons who played CEGEP football have former teammates on the R&O.

What I expect to see from Laval

First, I expect they will be a very good, very physical team and very determined team. The Rouge & Or were a rebuilding team last year and still made it to the Vanier Cup. From what I’ve heard that loss still stings and has this team more focused thus far through training camp.

Second, I believe the R&O will be a very deep team. I don’t expect a big drop-off when they substitute their backups. In fact, given that their players are on average one to two years older than ours, they may dominate more with their backups in the game.

Third, they have a veteran-laden offense that should be ahead of ours in their ability to execute. That includes four 5th-year veterans – quarterback Hugo Richard , receivers Étienne Moisan and Benoit Gagnon-Brousseau and running back Christopher Amoah.  Add in an offensive line that returns 4 of 5 starters and they should put a ton of pressure on our defense.

Fourth, the R&O defense may be as scary as the offense. Most of their starters are back and they include two of the best players in U Sports. In 2017 defensive back Adam Auclair won the Presidents’ Trophy and defensive end Mathieu Betts won the Metras Trophy.

Finally, if there is one place where the Gryphons may have an advantage it might be special teams. We return 2-time All Cdn kicker Gabe Ferraro while I don’t know much about Laval’s special teams units.

Final Thoughts

It is hard to imagine that the Gryphons don’t lose on the scoreboard. It would be a moral victory to keep the score close. I’d be happy with a solid effort that proved they can compete with the best program in the country. The Gryphons are a younger and less experienced team who can improve substantially over the season. They should take away plenty of lessons from facing Laval.

 

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More from training camp – Aug 15/18

I love the idea of a Captains’ Lunch which brings together team captians from all past Guelph teams. I’ve heard it talked about previously but I think Day 3 of camp [Sunday] was the first one. Every decade is represented back to the 1950s

Captains' Lunch 2018

Seated (LtoR): Robbie Keith ’59, Steve Stewart ’69, Bill Sproule ’58, Wayne Gerrie ’55, Randy Dimitroff ’85, John Vandenberg ’68, Stu Lang Head Coach Emeritus YCC ’15, Matt Rossetti ’10
Standing (LtoR): Don Murray ’91, Wayne England ‘88, Dan Cornwell ’74, Dave Hume ’61, Matt Richardson ’12, Doug Brown ’66, Brett McCallum ’91, Shawn Hagarty ’94, Gerrit Stam ’99, Patrick Nield ’89, Don Taylor ’63, Derek Drouillard ’17, Nick Parisotto ’17, Mike Knighton ’86
*Some players were Captains for multiple seasons but only one year was listed.

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I love what Guelph does with social media but that doesn’t really scratch the itch of many fans who are looking for details – the depth chart, who replaces departed players, who is doing well at camp, who is/isn’t back for 2018, who will the new starters be, who is hurt, who are the big surprises, et cetera.

You really can’t answer those questions without watching practices each day and talking to players and coaches. I understand why the new format of morning power practices makes sense compared to two-a-days but it does make it difficult for a person with a day job to make it there. Saturday’s game in Quebec City should help to answer a lot of questions.

Darren Stevenson of 519 Sports Online has a couple of post-Day 6 interviews up on youtube. First, he talks with players Theo Landers and Tavius Robinson. OF course, those are two names I mention in my post after Day 2 as being bright spots in early in training camp. The second one features head coach Todd Galloway.

Stevenson asks Galloway about the confidence and energy being shown by QB Theo Landers. In part he responds, … being at the East-West Bowl was really, really important for him. It showed him that he is good enough to compete with anybody.

A few highlights from the past few days social media, including a one-handed catch by Sam Lewis …

Some lighthearted, frinedly competition between the Offense and Defense, including some coaches …

And, the only returning starter in the defensive backfield, Dotun Aketepe, is mic’d up at a recent practice …

Each freshman has a white stripe on their helmet when training camp begins. That is removed after they have impressed or proven themselves in some way. Here are some examples, …

And another freshman, OL Connor Burke, [Guelph Bishop MacDonell] has his rookie stripe removed …

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A few more things I’ve heard or remembered …

♦ One thing that differentiates OC J-F Joncas’ offense from Coach Galloway’s is the way they use they use the Fullback/H-Back and the type of player they use to fill that position. If you remember back to last season, Johnny Augustine started the year in that FB/H-Back role. He was moved back to tailback after Brandon Gordon was hurt in Game 2. A few games later we began to see converted defensive tackle Lukas Brennan coming into games as a blocking fullback. Brennan remains at that position along with another converted D-Lineman Matt Reuter, freshman Emmanuel Ituara and TE/H-Back Nicholas Mirijello. The Gryphon running game was better after that change was made. I think we will see more use of those bigger bodied FB/H-Back/TEs in 2018

♦ Having a big blocking back might be of benefit to a smaller, shiftier tailback like Jamal Hooker. With two backs in the backfield the fullback can be the primary person to help with pass protection, while a smaller scatback-type player could be a receiving option. If you have a one-back offense that lone back has to be able to pick up blitzing linebackers, defensive end, etc.in pass pro. If he can’t do that reliably, he won’t be on the field in many situations. It will be interesting to watch the RBs and FBs against Laval.

♦ On re-reading my previous post I realized I didn’t make clear what I was trying to say about the quarterback situation. It wouldn’t bother me at all if we had a freshman QB dressed as the #2. Back in 2014 James Roberts won the #2 QB position in training camp and with a strong showing in the preseason game against UdeMontreal. My worry was about not having enough QBs to properly run the scout team and the fact that a young, inexperienced QB may actually benefit more from the extra work he might receive on scout team versus the backup position since most of the game prep reps go to the starter.

♦ I previously glanced over the linebacker position suggesting I was comfortable with the returning vets and talented backups. I failed to mention that with Riley Baines and Kosi Onyeka not returning the SAM LB position would have a new starter. I don’t know who it will be. It could possibly be a sophomore like Aiden Mielczarek or Jared Beeksma. Depending how quickly he can learn the system freshman Uriel Kalenga [Champlain-Lennoxville] might see playing time there.

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