Sheahan completes coaching staff

With this announcement last week from the Department of Athletics, we finally have a complete picture of head coach Ryan Sheahan’s new coaching staff.

The key hires were Mark Surya as offensive coordinator and Donnavan Carter as special teams coordinator. Both coaches have served in similar positions with UofT for the past two years. This is Carter’s second stint with the Gryphons, having served as DBs coach and recruiting coordinator in 2016.

Previously, it was known that Sheahan had retained coaches Mike MacDonald [O-Line], Brian Cluff [D-Line], Joe Sardo [LBs] and Mark Forsyth [DBs]. Dennis McPhee was announced as the team’s Defensive Coordinator back in February.

Mark Surya.jpg

Mark Surya at U of T

I’ve never met Surya and only know of him by reputation. Not so for Ryan Sheahan who was Surya’s position coach at Queen’s from 2007 to 2009. According to Sheahan, Surya has an intimate understanding of what he wants to do on offense. That may explain why Sheahan hired him as OC after originally saying he would be his own OC.

From the announcement …

At just 30-years-old, Mark Surya has already established himself as one of the top offensive minds in the conference after having previously held offensive coordinator positions at Wilfrid Laurier University as well as U of T. During his final season as offensive coordinator with the Golden Hawks in 2016, Surya handled play-calling duties for a Laurier offence that led the country in rushing yards per game (281.4), while also ranking second in points per game (42.6) and total touchdowns (43). That season, Surya was part of a Laurier team that claimed the 109th Yates Cup with a come-from-behind 43-40 win over the Western Mustangs.

I like the fact that Surya utilized a high-powered running game at Laurier while he also  understands Sheahan’s pro-style passing concepts. I’m hopeful this means he’ll be able to  utilize effectively the young talent Guelph has at the running back position, particularly until the pieces are in place for a pro-style passing offense.

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Donnavan Carter.jpg

Donnovan Carter in 2018 as U of T’s defensive coordinator

I’m happy to see Coach Carter back in Guelph. I think he will bring a lot to the program as a recruiter and on special teams. He has a lot to live up to given the sustained success of Bill Brown’s Special teams units from 2010 to 2017.

“It’s awesome to be back in Guelph,” says Carter, a 43-year-old Brampton native who has been coaching in the OUA since 2008, holding defensive coordinator positions with both the Windsor Lancers as well as the Toronto Varsity Blues. “The Gryphons have done an outstanding job on special teams in recent years and I’m hoping to add to that and take it to the next level.

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There are four other new faces on the coaching staff.

Devan Sheahan, Ryan’s younger brother and former Queen’s receiver, will coach the team’s receivers. After a strong 5-year career as a receiver with the Golden Gaels, Devan coached the Queen’s receivers for the past 8 years.

Devan Sheahan

♦ Former Western QB Stevenson Bone will be the new operations manager and work with the quarterbacks. Bone spent last season working in the CFL’s Operations department.

Stevenson Bone

♦ Coming to Guelph from Calgary is Bryce Harper. He will coach the running backs and serve as assistant strength and conditioning coach. Harper played running back for Sheahan in his Dinos offense in 2015 and 2016.

Bryce_Harper

♦ Former Mac Marauder Tom Sterling will assist Mike MacDonald with the offensive line. Sterling is a Burlington Stampeder product. I’m assuming that he was coached by MacDonald back in his Varsity days.

Tom Sterling

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The 2019 Gryphon Football Coaching Staff

Head Coach:  Ryan Sheahan
Defensive Coordinator:  Dennis McPhee
Offensive Coordinator:  Mark Surya
Special Teams Coordinator:  Donnavan Carter
Offensive Line:  Mike MacDonald
Defensive Line:  Brian Cluff
Linebackers: Joe Sardo
Defensive Backs:  Mark Forsyth
Quarterbacks/Football Operations:  Stevenson Bone
Running Backs/Assistant Strength Coach:  Bryce Harper
Assistant Offensive Line: Tom Sterling
Receivers: Devan Sheahan
Offensive Assistant: Rob Kitching
Kicking Coach: Daniel Ferraro
Player Personnel: John Casasanta
Player Personnel: Stephen O’Brien
Academic Coordinator: Lindsay Williams
Equipment Manager: Frank Tersigni

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Corfield chasing his CFL dreams

Corfield '18

Thanks to Bernie Puchalski of bpsportsniagara.ca for an excellent article on Greg Corfield today – Corfield chasing his football dreams

Niagara Falls native Greg Corfield (99) has been invited to Thursday’s Canadian Football League Ontario Regional Combine in Toronto.

In his first two years playing football at the University of Guelph, Greg Corfield vividly recalls his older teammates getting invited to the Canadian Football League Draft Combine.

“I always thought that was something I wanted to do and I looked up to those guys,” the 21-year-old Niagara Falls native said. “I think that made me work hard enough to get the invite.”

In early January, the Saint Paul alumnus received an invitation to attend this Thursday’s Ontario Regional Combine March 21 in Toronto.

“It was a bit of a surprise but it was a nice way to know that I put in enough work and effort this year,” the 6-4, 320-pound defensive lineman said. “I was so ecstatic about it because there is no heads up that they are sending out the email.

“One day you get it and it’s a dream of a lot of kids to play professionally. This is a big step towards that.”

The former Niagara Spears travel player put in a lot of time and effort to make that first big step a reality.

Greg Corfield (99)

“It was a lot of working out, a lot of weight room stuff and a lot of on-field conditioning, training and sprinting; just everything you can think of that would remotely contribute to becoming a better athlete, we would do it.”

All that translated to a definite style of play on the football field.

“It’s hard-nosed, nitty gritty and basically a street fight on every single play,” he said.

And the action is down in the trenches where there is little fanfare for a job done well.

“There’s not a ton of recognition, but when you make an incredible play, there will be guys beside you telling you that you have done well.”

Corfield feels he has taken big strides in his abilities over the past few seasons.

“Everything is coming into place and I am polishing up everything that I have been learning up until this point and everything is starting to click in my head,” he said. “When the coaches tell me little adjustments, I am start to get those down and be as flawless as I can.”

In layman’s sports terms, the game of football is slowing down for him.

“When you come in for your first few years, the game is so much faster and then everything just sort of slows down and you have more time to think about what you are going to do.”

Read the full story here.

 

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8 Gryphons invited to CFL Combines

cfl logoThe 2019 CFL Draft is less than three months away. The draft “season” kicks off with the usual combines for eligible players beginning in mid-March. The rosters were released by the CFL today.

From the CFL press release …

TORONTO — The Canadian Football League (CFL) announced on Wednesday that the League will once again host three regional combines with the participating players having one final opportunity of earning an invitation to the 2019 National Combine presented by New Era, which will take place in Toronto.

The CFL will host a trio of regional combines ahead of the CFL Combine for the seventh year in a row. CFL prospects will vie for an invitation to the CFL Combine presented by New Era starting Monday, March 11 in Edmonton. Following the Western Regional Combine in Edmonton, Montreal will host the Eastern Regional Combine on March 13 and Toronto will host the Ontario Regional Combine on March 21.

The lone Gryphon invited to the National Combine is offensive lineman Eric Starczala.

Eric Starczala

Receiving invitations to the Toronto Regional Combine are wide receiver Kade Belyk, defensive lineman Greg Corfield, wide receiver Zeph Fraser, offensive lineman Jaylan Guthrie, offensive centre Colin Jerome, quarterback Theodore Landers. and linebacker/long snapper Job Reinhart.

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You can find the complete roster for the National Combine here and the Ontario Regional Combine here.

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The first thing that jumps out at me, four of the 7 Gryphon invitees are players recruited by offensive line coach Mike MacDonald. Starczala and Jerome were members of the 2014 recruiting class, while Guthrie and Corfield joined the Gryphons in the 2015 recruiting class.

Greg Corfield – OL – 6’3″ 315 – St Paul’s CSS [Niagara Falls, ON]

People often forget that Corfield was switched over to the dark side a week into his first training camp to shore up the depth on the D-Line. His only work on the offensive side of the ball after that was as part of the JUMBO package used in short-yardage and goal line situations.

CORRECTION: I originally wrote … If there is a second thing, it is the absence of linebacker/long snapper Job Reinhart on the combine rosters. In spite of that, I will still be surprised if he isn’t drafted, or signed as a free agent. It turns out Reinhart was invited and will be attending the Ontario Regional Combine. Somehow CFL.ca “dropped the ball” when it left Reinhart’s name out of their announcement.

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In case you missed the news, Reinhart won a Bronze medal at the U Sport Wrestling Championships this past weekend.

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New Defensive Coordinator announced

There was not a lot of surprise when the announcement was finally made that former Waterloo headman, and longtime CFL assistant, Dennis McPhee would be Gryphon Football’s new defensive coordinator.

DC McPhee.jpg

McPhee had been rumoured to be the leading candidate for more than a month.  When I first heard McPhee’s name attached to the position, I wondered what his connection with Ryan Sheahan was. You expect a coach to hire someone he knows or has previously worked. But Sheahan’s season with the Ticats did not overlap with McPhee’s many years there. They may have crossed paths but they don’t appear to have coached together.

It’s pure speculation on my part, but I have to wonder if Pat Tracey didn’t have a role in this.

Consider, McPhee’s first 4 years at Guelph were as linebackers coach while Tracey was defensive coordinator. The season Tracey spent on Ron Lancaster’s Tiger-Cat coaching staff was during McPhee’s first stint with the Ticats. Given the Queen’s-Sheahan-Tracey connection, I’m certain that Sheahan would have talked to Tracey about the position. While he may not have been able to lure Tracey away from UBC, he likely came away with the next best thing – a recommendation from a trusted friend.

A few highlights from the Department of Athletics announcement:

Dennis McPhee arrives at Guelph with 16 years of CFL coaching experience in Hamilton

Dennis McPhee arrives at Guelph with 16 years of CFL coaching experience in Hamilton – Gryphon.ca

McPhee, a Hamilton native, boasts 35 years of coaching experience, including 16 years in the professional ranks as a Defensive Line Coach with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. McPhee also has 19 years of coaching experience at the Canadian university level, having held head coaching roles on two separate occasions, leading the University of Waterloo’s football program for five seasons (2007-2011) after having served as head coach of the St. Francis Xavier X-Men for two seasons (2002-2003).

And,

For McPhee, this marks his second stint as a defensive coach at the University of Guelph. From 1990-1993, McPhee served as the Gryphons linebackers coach, helping mold one of the greatest defensive units in program history, led by star linebackers Steve McKee and Mike O’Shea. In 1992, McPhee was part of the Gryphon coaching staff that led the Gryphons to what was then the second Yates Cup title in school history.

McPhee served as Guelph's LB coach during their 1992 Yates Cup championship season

McPhee (centre) served as Guelph’s LB coach during their 1992 Yates Cup championship season – Gryphons.ca

Read the full Gryphons.ca story here.

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From what I know at this point in time, it’s hard to say what type of defense McPhee will run. In his 35 years of coaching, he has spent just two seasons as a defensive coordinator – 1994 at McMaster and 2012 at Western. But, he has worked with some noteworthy defensive coordinators, from Pat Tracey (the winningest DC in U Sport history) to Don Sutherin to Jerry Glanville.

McPhee will have some time this Winter to see what he has to work with talent-wise. He also has what is probably the most experienced group of position coaches in U Sports to lean on for information and advice. Fortunately, he already knows them all.

McPhee has worked with DBs Coach Mark Forsyth at McMaster, D-Line Coach Brian Cluff during his previous 4-year stint at Guelph and with LBs Coach Joe Sardo for two years with the Tiger-Cats.  Forsyth, Cluff and Sardo have all been OUA DCs at some point in their careers.

 

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Wildman Awards Dinner – Jan 2019

The 2019 edition of the Wildman Dinner took place Saturday night in Guelph. The Wildman, as it’s known, is Gryphon Football’s annual awards banquet and the program’s opportunity to honour it’s graduating players.

Creelman Hall.jpg

This year’s edition of the event was back on-campus at Creelman Hall for the second consecutive year. The historic building brings a wonderful connection to the history of the program. It was the site of many previous Wildman Dinners.

As always, the highlight of the evening is the awarding of the Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy. Awarded since 1932, the Wildman Trophy goes to the senior or graduating player who has “exemplified to the highest degree the traits of sportmanship, leadership, gentlemanly conduct and who has maintained good scholarship”.

And the 2018 Ted Wildman Trophy winner is …

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korol w wildman winners

2018 recipient Luke Korol poses with previous Wildman Trophy winners

Former Wildman winners present for the evening included Bill Sproule (1958), Robby Keith (1959), Steve Stewart (1970), Dan Cornwell (1974), Mark Brown (1976), Sam Benincasa (1983) and Rob Wesseling (1996).

Click here for a complete list of the 86 Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy winners.

From Gryphons.ca …

Korol became just the 19th defensive player in U of G history to earn All-Canadian status … Korol led the entire country in tackles (9.3 per game) and served as the heart and soul of a dominating Gryphon defence that limited opponents to just 21.9 points per game (3rd-ranked scoring defence in the OUA).

Korol’s 74.5 tackles during the regular season not only was the highest total in all of U SPORTS, it also established a new single-season school record for the Gryphons. The Dundas native recorded three sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and an interception ….

… the Leadership and Organizational Management major also emerged as one of the team’s leaders in the community, taking part in the Gryphons annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake event while also dedicating his time to volunteering at the Guelph Food Bank, local elementary schools and Gryphon football camps.

In addition to winning the Wildman Trophy, Korol’s outstanding 2018 season earned him the Donald Forster Trophy as the team’s MVP and a free agent contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Korol, who went undrafted last Spring, will report to training camp with the Ticats in May.

Here is the complete list of the 2018 award winners. 

Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy:  Luke Korol
Donald Forster Trophy (MVP):  Luke Korol
Tom Dimitroff Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year):  Greg Corfield
Stu Lang Trophy (Offensive Player of the Year):  Kade Belyk
Special Teams Player of the Year:  Gabriel Ferraro
Tom Mooney Lineman of the Year:  Colin Jerome
Rookie of the Year:  Brendan Murphy
Kyle Walters Trophy:  Theo Landers
Richard P. Kohler Perseverance Award:  Aidan England
Captains Award:  Thomas Bresciani
Granite Gryphon Award:  Charlie Taggart
Scout Team – Offensive Player of the Year:  Michael Scarfone
Scout Team – Defensive Player of the Year:  Tyler Thompson
Unsung Hero Award:  Aidan Fraser
Support Staff Award:  Alf Conley  (Asst Equipment Mgr)
Academic Support Award:  John Walsh (Asst Professor)
Pflug Family Community Service Award:  Nicholas Mirijello
Jeff Hale HS Coach of the Year:  Greg White (Jacob Hespeler SS,Cambridge)

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Thoughts on the hiring of Ryan Sheahan

It took a while, but on January 10 we finally got the announcement Gryphon football fans had been waiting for: Ryan Sheahan would be the new Head Football Coach at the University of Guelph.

You can read the Gryphon Athletics announcement here and Justin Dunk’s story at 3DownNation.

Ryan Sheahan.jpg

I know Ryan Sheahan was on the Queen’s coaching during their most recent “glory years” but he really didn’t catch my attention until 2013/2014 when he was the OC for Team Ontario. He earned accolades for his recruiting ability at the time, landing some high-calibre, offensive skill position players.

His sudden departure for Calgary surprised me at the time. Lots of people, myself included, really wondered if he was ready for the role. He stepped out of his father’s shadow and immediately proved he was an elite U Sports offensive coordinator.

A few more of my thoughts,

  • I think Director of Athletics Scott McRoberts has hit a Home Run with this hire. Or, since he’s a tennis guy, maybe I should say, he served up an Ace.
  • I don’t need to take a poll of Gryphon fans because everyone I’ve talked to is very happy with and excited about the selection of Sheahan.
  • Sheahan is a Montreal native. He grew up in the city while his father Pat was coaching at McGill and Concordia. He attended John Abbott College [JAC] before heading to Queen’s. JAC is where he found his recent Hec Crighton trophy winning QB. JAC was also the source of three Gryphon recruits who played as freshmen in 2018.
  • As you would expect based on his background, Sheahan is bilingual. I think that is important since the Gryphons, no doubt, want to continue their recent recruiting success in Quebec. To some extent, this may offset the loss of OC J-F Joncas.
  • The departure of Joncas means there is still another full-time vacancy on the staff. I think Sheahan will have some flexibility in how he uses that position, particularly if he wants to be his own OC at the beginning. I’m not sure what he will do with the position.
  • I’m excited by the fact that Sheahan has already worked with QB Theo Landers. Sheahan was the offensive coordinator for Team West in the past two East-West Bowl games. I my opinion he used Theo perfectly in the game last Spring. Theo finished the game as both leading passer and leading rusher. Sheahan has done amazing things with his quarterbacks and can see Theo having an outstanding senior season under Sheahan.
  • This is the first time in almost two decades that Guelph has hired outside of the current coaching staff. The last “outside” hire was 2001 when former Gryphon Tom Arnott left the HC position at York to return to Guelph. More recent head coaches -Kyle Walters, Stu Lang, Kevin MacNeill and Todd Galloway (on an interim basis) – all came from the existing coaching staff. I don’t have a problem with going outside. It is probably a good, even necessary, thing once in a while.
  • Recruiting has to be an immediate priority. With only 7 committed recruits in the 2019 recruiting class to date there is lots of work still to be done. With a few months of recruiting remaining there is opportunity for Sheahan to have an impact.

 

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Preview: OUA Semi-Final in Ottawa

Ottawa '18

Photo: Gryphons.ca

Quick Hits

♦  The 2018 season has been a breakthrough year of sorts for the Ottawa program. Their 6-2 record and 2nd place finish in the OUA standings is their best since they were 7-1 and tied for 1st in 2010.

♦ This is the second consecutive year that the Gryphons head to the Nation’s Capital to take on the GeeGees in a playoff game. Last year it was a Quarter-Final match-up that the Gryphons dominated 30-8.

♦ This is the third game in row between these teams to be played at Ottawa’s GeeGees Field. Guelph won the 2017 Q-Final and lost in Week 3 this season.

♦  The victor tomorrow will play in the 111th Yates Cup next Saturday, November 10. For Guelph it would be a return to the game after a two-year absence and their fourth appearance in 6 years. It would mark Ottawa’s first appearance since 2010.

♦  The Guelph roster has probably never had as many players from the National Capital Region as there are this year. Most of the contingent are first- and second-year Gryphons. At least 7 dressed during the season and 5 will play tomorrow.

♦  This game is another Top 10 battle. In Week 3 Guelph was ranked 8th and Ottawa 9th. In the latest poll Ottawa is 5th and Guelph 6th.

Game Previews & Links

Gryphons.caGryphon Postseason Preview

GeeGees.ca – SMH! The last story about the football team on their own website was posted on October 13. It is the only story in the entire month of October, prime football season.

In The Huddle by Mike Hogan – Semifinal Previews

OUA.caSemifinal 55-man Roster

Recent Series History

2018 – 12-10  Ottawa
2017 – 30 – 8  Guelph [OUA Q-Final]
2017 – 24-21 (2OT) Ottawa
2016 – 31–28 (OT) 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

My Take

I see this game going one of two ways. Either Guelph wins decisively as they did in last year’s playoff game and in 2014 and 2015. Or, it is a close game, competitive until the late in the contest. Ottawa has held the upper hand in close games in recent years, winning by 2 points once and in overtime twice.

Ottawa enjoyed a bye last week. They’ll be rested and a little healthier as a result. GeeGees QB Sawyer Buettner was reportedly playing with some nagging injuries in Week 8 and 9 so the rest will help him. As for Guelph, they have had a better season injury-wise than the previous three years. And with the momentum of a 5-game winning streak I don’t think they’d want a bye right now.

The Guelph offense has looked really strong since the Gryphons came off their own bye back at Thanksgiving. However, that success has come against two of the weaker defenses in the conference. Ottawa’s D will present a much greater challenge. Their D-Line is solid and the backfield is talented and experienced.

I think you will see Ottawa commit to stopping the run and dare the Gryphons to pass. I think the key will be Theo Landers. Guelph will either need to complete more than a few big passes when uO is bringing pressure or Theo will have to make some big plays with his feet. With the productivity of J-P Cimankinda the past three games I really hope to see Theo exploit the attention J-P draws. We will need to see more play action and read-option plays where Theo pulls the ball to run or pass. But preferably run. I say that in part because our O-Line is playing very well.

The good news is that I think 25 points will be enough to win the game. I think the Gryphon defense is much improved since the Week 3 game. I think/hope we’ll see them bring more pressure and produce some turnovers. I think it will be easier to focus on stopping the GeeGees run game without Bryce Vieira. He is a player who always scared me.

We’re hitting the road for Ottawa about 5 a.m. in order to be there for the pre-game tailgate party. From what I’ve heard we should have a good turnout in the parking lot outside GeeGees Field on Lees Avenue. Parking there is restricted to people with parking permits but please join us even if you’re parking elsewhere and arriving via shuttle bus.

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Gryphons playoff-bound with OT win over Warriors

With yesterday’s 47-44 win over Waterloo the Gryphons have secured a home game in the OUA playoffs.

The 5-3 Gryphons finished the regular season tied for 3rd place with Carleton and McMaster.  Guelph was seeded 3rd, Carleton 4th and Mac 5th based on their records against common opponents. Guelph was the only one of the three to defeat both Laurier and Waterloo.

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons edge Warriors in Double OT Thriller

♦ Guelph’s opponent in the OUA Quarter-Final this Saturday will be the same Waterloo team they played yesterday. Maybe UW will bill the sequel as … The Revenge of the Nerds.

♦ Yesterday’s game was a struggle. I’m sure the Warriors won’t rollover in the rematch. But, looking ahead at the Road to the Yates Cup, the #3 seed is a very desirable position given that a Q-F win would lead to a game versus the #2 GeeGees in Ottawa. The winner of the #4 vs #5 Q-F will face Western in the other Semi-Final.

♦ Guelph will head into the playoffs on a 3-game winning streak. The only other playoff team with a winning streak longer than one game is 8-0 Western.  Speaking of momentum, the Gryphons have won 4 of their last 5 games.

♦ Guelph has been getting solid play from a large group of freshmen all season. That would include DB Brendan Murphy, LB Uriel Kalenga, DL Jeremy Kapelanski,  DE Tavius Robinson, WR/Returner Kiondre Smith, OT Liam Lapointe, RB Juwan Jeffrey and RB J-P Cimankinda. All of these players have started one or more games. Several of them have started all season. They are all worthy of being named to the OUA All-Rookie team.

♦ Three of the above freshmen were big factors in yesterday’s win …

Smith had an outstanding 78-yard KO return that set Guelph up for a score. (It was actually a 93-yard touchdown return negated by a marginal-at-best penalty that occurred behind the play at the UW 15-yd line.)

Cimankinda ran for 157 yards on 16 carries, an average of 9.7 ypc, and he scored a TD in the first OT period.

Robinson was involved in 5 tackles and made a huge play in the final OT period stripping UW QB Tre Ford of the ball to end the game. See video …

♦ In addition to Robinson’s game-ending strip, the Gryphons forced three other turnovers. Two on defense …

And, an amazing one on special teams when an unblocked Jason Richards takes the football right off the foot of the UW punter and trots into the end zone for 6 …

♦ Perhaps the best news heading into the playoffs … Gabriel Ferraro seems to be back to his old self. He was a perfect 4 of 4 yesterday. Ferraro was also a perfect 6 of 6 last week vs UofT. He had also been perfect earlier in the season against York and Windsor. The problem was he had been inconsistent in the critical games [Mac, Ottawa, Queen’s] decided by less than 3 points. Any worries that he couldn’t hit the big ones any more was erased when he kicked both the game-tying FG on the final play and the game winner in Overtime. They were kicks of 32 and 42 yards. Ferraro tied the U Sports career record for made FGs in the regular season with his 91st.

♦ A little razzle-dazzle we don’t usually see from the Gryphon offense …

♦ If there was one disappointment yesterday it was failing to defend my 2017 Chili Bowl championship title. I’ll miss that little trophy. There is always next year!

Congrats to the 2018 winner Jenn O’Brien! (wife of 80’s alumnus John O’Brien)

Report from Chili Bowl organizer Dan Crabbe …

It was a great day for Gryphon Football and a great day for chili! A record breaking 58 votes were cast. Congratulations to Chili Bowl VIII winner #6 Jenn O’Brien! Honourable mentions go to runner up, my nephew Taylor Koson with his fan fave #3 from the other end of the parking lot; Hottest Chili goes to #10 Jay Ross; Sweetest Chili goes to #11 Jamie MacDonald and I am honoured to win the vote for best Chili-tude! Special mention must be made for The Iron Chili award to Elisabeth Duncan for grit and dedication to the Chili bowl only one week after surgery! Thanks to everyone for making Chili Bowl VIII a great day! See you next year, Jenn, to defend your title!

2018 Chili Bowl

 

 

 

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Game preview: UofT at Guelph

Shaffer-Baker vs UofT

Kian Shaffer-Baker with one of his 9 catches vs UofT in 2016

Quick Hits

♦ The Varsity Blues are having a tough year in their first season under new head coach Greg Marshall. Marshall took over the UofT program after 4 years as defensive coordinator at Queen’s. Prior to that he had a long career in the CFL as a player and a coach.

♦ In spite of their 0-6 record, the Blues haven’t been shut out this season. In fact, they have scored 18 or more points in 4 of 6 games.

♦ UofT will have a new starter at the quarterback position – Vince Luccisano – as the result of injuries to previous starters Clay Sequiera and Connor Ennis

♦ Both teams will be well rested. The Gryphons are coming off a bye week. UofT last played 9 days ago.

Game Previews & Related Links

Gryphons.caGryphons host Varsity Blues in Think Pink game

“We’re trying not to over stress the importance of this game, but in the end, it’s essentially a playoff game for us,” says Gryphons head coach Todd Galloway.

“If we want to control our own fate, these next two games are really important. That makes this next game the most important game of the season for us.”

OUA.ca – Week 8 rosters and depth charts

One notable change is the Gryphons are dressing two P/K s for the first time this season – the veteran #10 Gabe Ferraro and the freshman #9 Eric Stranz. It will be interesting to see how the kicking duties are split. I recall a similar situation in 2014 when then freshman Gabe Ferraro dressed for a game. His brother Daniel was the veteran . In that game the junior Ferraro did the field goal kicking and the elder brother handled the punting.

Recent Series History

Guelph holds a 8-1 advantage over the Varsity Blues since 2007. In fact, the 2011 upset at the Varsity Centre was the first time Toronto had defeated the Gryphons since 1995. The Gryphons hold a 25-16-1 head-to-head advantage over UofT since their first meeting in 1976. [Source: varsityblues.ca]

UofT logo2017 – 43-6 Guelph
2016 – 41-22 Guelph
2014 – 50-18 Guelph
2013 – 38-12 Guelph
2012 – 31-29  Guelph
2011 – 21-12  Toronto
2010 – 15-13  Guelph
2009 – 53-25  Guelph
2008 – 30-0  Guelph

My Take

Yesterday was long day spent at the Toronto General Hospital Cardiac Centre. Elisabeth went through her fifth heart “procedure” of the past 18 months. She says she wants to be at the game if she “feels up to it”. I’m a little more realistic.

Unless something miraculous happens I think we will be watching this game at home with OUA.tv streaming on our 55″ HD TV. Isn’t technology wonderful!? I say that with fingers crossed because all OUA fans know how fickle these broadcasts can be.

I will enjoy this rare opportunity to listen to Peter Cobb and Shawn Patrick Moynihan on the broadcast. Now that I will be watching online I’m also thankful that Guelph invested in quality HD cameras and other technology necessary to present a professional broadcast.

I fear the game itself won’t be as entertaining as I had hoped. The Blues have been respectable competitive in most games in spite of their 0-6 record. A lot of that was because of good quarterback play. But the Blues have now lost their top 2 starters to injury.

For me, this game is really all about Guelph. The Gryphons have a talent advantage that should allow them to dominate on both sides of the ball. I will be particularly interested to see how that works out for the offense in particular.

What I hope to see is an offense that can both run and pass with relative ease. And if I were making a wish list offensive consistency would be at the top of it. For me, consistency would be picking up 25 or 30 1st downs in the game. That allows you to sustain drives and control the ball. Big plays are great but Guelph’s problem has been the inability to pick up a 1st downs when they really need them.

Coach Galloway is 100% correct, every game is a playoff game for the Gryphons from this point forward. I want to see the team play that way and build some momentum as the season winds down. A disappointing 5-3 record wouldn’t be so disappointing if the Gryphons start playing up to their potential and advance in the playoffs.

Again, it is the offense in particular that hasn’t reached its potential. This team has very talented and relatively experienced O-Line and receiver groups. There is also talent though less experience at the QB and running back positions. Entering the 7th game of the season the offense has to come together and excel against a mediocre team like UofT or it is not going to happen in 2018.

Go Gryphon!

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Homecoming preview: Queen’s at Guelph

Quick Hits

It’s Homecoming Game which translates into one of the best environments in Canadian college football.

The teams enter the game with identical 2-2 records.

This is a critical game for both teams. Almost a must-win game you could say. There is little chance that the loser of this game makes the playoffs.

As you’ll see just below, Queen’s versus Guelph has been an extremely competitive match-up in recent years. With the exception of 2014, every game has been close enough to be dramatic and entertaining.

Recent series History:

Queen's logoThe Gryphons and the Golden Gaels didn’t meet in 2017. Over the 11 years prior to that the Gryphons are 5-6 against the Golden Gaels. That period includes Queen’s perfect 8-0 regular season in 2008 and their 2009 Vanier Cup victory.

Nothing in this recent history would lead you to expect the 2014 result. It was the worst defeat in more than 100 years of Golden Gaels football. Gaels got their revenge upsetting the undefeated and #5 ranked Gryphons in 2015.

2016 – 38-29 Guelph
2015 – 23-15  Queen’s
2014 – 66 – 0  Guelph
2013 –  34-17 Queen’s [Yates Cup semi-final]
2013 –  37-23 Queen’s
2012 – 42 -39 Guelph [Yates Cup semi-final]
2012 – 33-28 Guelph
2011 – did not meet
2010 –  21-15  Guelph
2009 –  52-49  Queen’s
2008 –  41-30  Queen’s
2007 –  26-14  Queen’s

According to the Queen’s website, the Golden Gaels have an edge in the all-time series, as they boast a 13-7 record since their first meeting in 1973.

Game Previews & related links

This week’s game is being promoted by the OUA as this week’s Marquee Matchup with a preview story – Pair of playoff hopefuls set to hit the gridiron at Guelph Homecoming

Beyond the run game, the Guelph offence has not been able to gain consistent momentum throughout the year. They currently rank seventh in the OUA with 21.0 PPG – well off their 2017 totals of over 36 per contest …

Gryphons.caGryphons gear up for Homecoming battle with Queen’s

GoGaelsGo.comGaels at No. 10 Guelph Saturday

OUA Depth Charts for Week 5 games – No big shockers on the Gryphons depth chart. Since Guelph is the Home team they can dress 55 players. I expect to see Kian Shaffer-Baker back in the line-up after missing last week. He suffered an injury in the Ottawa game.

My Thoughts & Expectations

While the Gryphons play through the first 4 weeks of the season has been underwhelming I see this as a good match-up for the Gryphons.

Queen’s strength is their offense. They have a 5th year QB in Nate Hobbs and some outstanding skill players. However, I believe that they have some shortcomings on the offensive line. I look for the Gryphon defensive front 7 to be able to exploit that. If the Gryphons can’t stop the run and pressure Hobbs frequently I’ll be shocked.

I’d love the see the Gryphon offense finally put it all together. I think that can happen. It would start with eliminating the penalties and execution problems that have killed drives. I want to see the Gryphons run the ball consistently, including QB runs. We have elite talent on our offensive line. Let them win the game! That will only make the passing game more effective.

Even though he hasn’t thrown the ball a lot, Theo Landers has been efficient and has yet to throw an interception this year. Force the Queen’s D to stop the run and we could see more big passing plays like the 85- and 55-yard TDs of the past two games.

GO GRYPHONS!!

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