3 defenders trying to bring down #28 J-P Cimankinda Photo:Gryphons.ca
Spring camp was a 5-day event – April 21-25 – that culminated with a scrimmage on Friday. By waiting until exams were over Coach Sheahan and his staff had the full attention of their players.
The days were busy ones with meetings, therapy and film sessions just like training camp. The extra time was valuable since August training camps in the OUA have been cut from 17 to 10 days. [A terrible decision from my perspective.]
I made it to Guelph to watch the scrimmage. I made a few mental notes but generally forgot to take pictures. I attempted a few video clips, few of which didn’t begin or end with my feet. Coach Sheahan was respectful enough to respond to a few questions via email. His answers are the quotes in blue text that follow.
“I was very pleased with our efforts and execution during this camp. This was a culmination of an off-season filled with effort … overall the team did a great job grasping a lot of the ‘new’ on all sides of the ball. We saw some veteran leadership and some new faces emerge as contributors to our football team. I’m excited for the fall.”
I have to agree about the effort and execution. There was a high level of effort while there were no obvious signs that the team was struggling with the new playbook. If anything impacted the execution it was the high winds. I doubt we saw as many “deep shots” being taken down field as we would have under better conditions. It was a tough day to throw the ball consistently.
As far as new players emerging, a couple that caught my attention were Jake Bennett, a redshirt freshman receiver out of North Vancouver’s Handsworth Secondary, and Justin Lauzon, a 2019 linebacker recruit from Quebec’s St-Jean CEGEP. Lauzon was one of three CEGEP recruits who enrolled in January.
Bennett looks both quick and fast. He’s still a little on the skinny side but he is an exciting runner after he catches the ball. Lauzon is short and stocky. He looks mature physically and made some big plays for the defense.
#3 Justin Lauzon wraps up running back #2 Jamal Hooker Photo:LaurelJarvis/GryphonAthletics
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“I was impressed the way the Quarterbacks progressed. We brought a new playbook to Guelph, and it has taken a winter to implement it. The QB’s got progressively better as the week went on.”
I’m glad Sheahan is happy with the QB play. For me, that is the number one area I hope we see an improvement based on his hiring. He had a reputation for getting the most out of his QBs in Calgary.
My biggest concern right now, with respect to quarterbacks, is that there were only two playing – Theo Landers and Brayden Lassemba, last year’s starter and backup. I thought both were generally throwing the ball well. Many of the incompletions were related to the wind. Each one had a nice run for good yardage that resulted from some slick ball fakes.
Neither of last year’s freshmen QBs played. Michael Scarfone [Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year] was on the sideline in street clothes after re-injuring the knee he hurt in high school earlier in the week. As I understand it, the other freshman QB, Andrew Horscroft, missed all of camp with an injury. Horscroft had a shoulder injury prior to his arriving at his rookie training camp. It kept him off the practice field until October. If it is the same problem I hope it doesn’t end his career.
You’d like to have 5 or 6 healthy quarterbacks on the roster. Any less and you’re going to have potential problems. Currently, Guelph has two healthy veterans and two incoming freshmen QBs. Ideally, you’d like to know that one or both of Scarfone and Horscroft will be ready to go in August. If not, IMHO the Gryphons could use another QB, be he a recruit, a transfer or a returning player like 2017 freshman Deandre Rose.
Offensive line has been a place where we’ve had number issues in some previous Spring camps. I think Guelph went to a Spring scrimmage at Laurier with just 6 OLs a couple years ago. That isn’t an issue this year. There were plenty of big bodies available.
The really good news w.r.t the O-Line is that the new head coach thinks …
“I felt that our offensive line looked very impressive. They demonstrated their ability to move the line of scrimmage and protect the passer. That being said, I also really enjoyed the aggressive demeanor of our defensive front. They won their fair share of battles as well.”
O-Line Coach Mike MacDonald agreed, saying … “[The] scrimmage to finish Spring Camp was terrific. Both squads of Oline played their butts off. Big progress during the week. Can’t wait for August!”
This is something I’m really happy about. There is always potential for a big drop when you are losing multiple starters, probably 3, from your offensive line. For the O-Line to impress the new HC is great news. In addition to Coulter Woodmansey and Ben Petrie, there are several returning OLs who have a fair bit of experience. Liam LaPointe started several games in his first year. Spencer Swan saw lots of action. Spencer Masterson dressed all year. One new face who looked like he will contribute early is Matt Famuwera of Champlain-Lennoxville.
Tough Up Front
“As the Head Coach I like the fact that we’ll be tough up front.”
Here are several clips of the action at the line-of-scrimmage. In the first one, the O-Line creates a nice hole for running back J-P Cimankinda to bust a 15+ yard run. The RG [Ben Petrie?] gets up-field and puts a LB on his butt.
From what I saw in the scrimmage Cimankinda’s late season emergence was no flash-in-the-pan. He looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off, and take it up a notch. The depth at RB is exciting with Juwan Jeffery and Richard Morris, plus Kwame Osei returning in August.
The next two clips [courtesy of Sofija Jelacic] are pass plays. In each, the D-Line does get push up field but the O-line keeps Theo clean long enough to throw. The D brings a 4-man rush in the first clip, then adds a blitzing LB in the second. DT #59 Jeremy Kapelinski, who almost gets to Theo in one of the clips, was the most disruptive defensive lineman that I saw in the scrimmage.
More on Spring Camp
Rob Massey’s story on gryphonfootball.com – Spring Camp 2019
“I thought it was super positive,” head coach Ryan Sheahan said following the camp-ending scrimmage. “Rome was definitely not built in a day and the fact that all the players I inherited and the new staff I recruited and the new recruits that were here watching, we’re all starting to come together as a family. It’s been new play books, new people, new faces and new attitude and we were able to go out there and move the football, sack the quarterback and make a few plays on both sides of the ball. I was really pleased. Even in these conditions — I thought I left Calgary’s weather behind, but it followed me here.”
Gryphons.ca – Spring Camp Recap
Gryphon Athletics photo gallery – 82 photos