Game 8 preview: Gryphons @ Carleton

My quick thoughts

I do mean quick! My wife just reminded me I said I’d be ready to hit the road at 6 pm. We’re heading to Kingston tonight and then finishing the journey to Ottawa in the morning

In my opinion this is an important game in multiple ways …

  • Heading into the playoffs next week Guelph needs the momentum that winning  would provide. A win tomorrow would be the fourth in the last five games.
  • A win would give the Gryphons a strong chance of hosting a playoff game and I’d much rather be heading to Guelph next week than back to Ottawa or to Waterloo.
  • A win would bring the Gryphons to a 5-3 record. That was my worst case scenario before the season started. A 4-4 record would be hard to swallow.
  • A win would be good for the programs profile – i.e. help with recruiting, keep the Gryphons in the Top 10, et cetera.

I’m not 100% confident that Guelph will win. The Ravens have more to play for with their playoff hopes depending on them winning. They are a talented team that hasn’t lived up to expectations but they are coming off a 43-0 beating of UofT.

RavensLogo-forblack

I’d feel better if I knew James Roberts was 100% healthy and starting the game. I’m happy with the way Landers has played but I don’t like the inexperience factor. Things can go wrong with an inexperienced QB at the helm.

I am really hoping that the defense and special teams units play well enough that the pressure to win doesn’t have to rest to heavily on Landers’ shoulders. I said something similar before his first start against Waterloo and it didn’t work out that way. Landers did rise to the challenge. I just don’t want to have to rely on that again.

If the D and specials can play as well as last week then we should be fine.

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Game previews & related links

Gryphons.ca: Plenty of playoff implcations on the line as Gryphons head to Carleton

Heading into the final weekend of the OUA football regular season, the playoff picture is complicated. The mindset for the Gryphons, however, is simple. Beat the Carleton Ravens and head into the OUA playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the conference.

The No. 9-ranked Gryphons (4-3) are off to Ottawa in search of their fifth win in their last six games

GoRavens.ca: Ravens ready to battle for playoffs spot against Guelph

The Ravens’ biggest challenge this weekend won’t be stopping the run or moving the ball, but it will be staying mentally tough. Going up against a team they’ve never beaten before in a game that determines their post-season fate, they’re bound to feel the pressure.

However, head coach Steve Sumarah says he’s doing everything he can to combat those feelings.

“The biggest thing for us is that we have to not think about anything other than the next play – forget what quarter it is, what happened on the last play or the play before that. We just need to stay in the moment, be in the moment and execute.”

He says the key to the game will be a consistency and solid play. This needs to be their best game yet.

“We’re treating this like a playoff game – you win, you keep going and if you lose, you’re out,” Sumarah said. “This is a one-and-done game and we have been really geared towards how we’re going to find the answers to win this and play another week.”

OUA Website: 55-Man Rosters

A quick note … James Roberts is listed on the Gryphons 55-man roster but that doesn’t mean he will be among the 47 players who dress tomorrow. I believe we will see Theo Landers make his third consecutive start.

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The series history since 2007

In reality there was no series prior to 2013 when the Carleton football program was revived. Before their demise in the late 1990s the Ravens were playing in the OQIFC and not the OUA/OUAA. You would likely have to go back to the 1960s to find a previous Guelph-Carleton matchup. Both teams played in the OIFC [Ontario Intercollegiate Football Conference] and then the CCIFC [Central Canada Intercollegiate Football Conference] at the time.

2016 – Did not play
2015 – 31 – 23 Guelph [OUA Semi-Final]
2015 – 44-12 Guelph
2014 – 44-22 Guelph
2013 – 48-12 Guelph

Broadcast Options:

OUA.tv – Click here

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Gryphons beat defending Yates champs

Pre-game WLU

Photo: Megan Pickett

Now that was a nice win!

It wasn’t a thing of beauty but I’ll take it.

Except for a couple of costly penalties, the defense was outstanding as they shut down the offense ranked 2nd in the country in offensive yards per game (560.33) and 3rd in the country in scoring (averaging 40.2 points per game). They held the Golden Hawks to 186 total yards – 66 rushing and 120 passing. Those are the type of numbers you only expect against one of the OUA’s bottom feeders. OUTSTANDING!

Guelph is now 2-0 with Theo Landers as the starting quarterback. To me, that is amazing. Think about it … while our backup QB is gaining the experience he needs to be successful, we’ve beaten a 4-1 and a 5-1 team. Landers’ numbers weren’t huge – 13 of 20 for 111 yards and 86 yards rushing – but he was very effective. He did not turn the ball over. One shortcoming … he did have 3 or 4 passes blocked at the line of scrimmage.

The Gryphons dominated the game from beginning to end. Yet, I still had an uneasy feeling with having to settle for FGs instead of TDs. It wasn’t until Jacob Scarfone returned that missed FG for a 122-yard touchdown that I was able to breathe easily.

Game recaps and related links

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons take down #5 ranked Laurier 24-14

“The guys rallied together today and were able to find a way to overcome some tough situations,” said Gryphons head coach Kevin MacNeill. “We controlled the pace of the game from the start and received an incredible effort by our defence today. They applied some great pressure in the pass game and really shut down the run game. Hats off to everyone on that side of the ball.”

Laurier Athletics: Struggles in loss to Guelph

For Guelph, the majority of their offence came on the ground as fifth-year Johnny Augustine of Welland, Ont., rushed for 176 yards on 31 attempts. Quarterback Theodore Landers of Maple Ridge, B.C., making his second career start in the place of injured starter James Roberts of Cambridge, Ont., had 86 yards rushing on 14 attempts …

OUA.ca website: Complete stats and box score

Guelph Tribune/Mercury: Gryphons victorious over defending Yates Cup champs

Guelph Sports Journal: Photo gallery

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Further Thoughts on the Game

Red Zone Problems – After scoring 5 offensive touchdowns against Waterloo the Gryphon O was held out of the end zone by a good WLU defense. I think the quality of the defenses faced explains a large part of the difference in RZ conversion but getting shut out of the EZ is not acceptable.

Field Goals – Hitting 5 of 7 field goals isn’t bad but I have higher expectations of Gabe Ferraro. I consider him worthy of being an All Canadian again. I want to see him hit 85% of his attempts. After yesterday’s game he has been good on 78.8%.

Right now he is in a tight battle statistically with Western kicker Mark Liegghio for top spot in the OUA. Liegghio has not hit as many long FGs as Ferraro but he has been good on 89% of his attempts. I think Ferraro needs to be a perfect 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 in the season finale to have a good chance of earning 1st Team OUA All Star honours.

Short Yardage Situations – I agree with almost all of the decisions to go for it on 3rd-&-1. I like that Coach MacNeill trusts his players. What concerns me is that 7 games into the season we aren’t yet converting on those gambles nearly often enough. Third-&-1 or 3rd-&-inches should be nearly automatic with the O-Line talent this team has.

Running Game – Johnny Augustine was outstanding running the ball. And the O-Line won the overall battle at the line of scrimmage against a very big Laurier defensive front. Theo Landers was effective again. Not sure what the issue is but Landers has tripped himself up on couple of occasions these past two games when he has had a lot of open field in front of him.

Defense – That was as good a game as the defense has played all year. Their play in the opener against Ottawa seemed a little more dominating but at this point in the season I don’t think anyone considers the Gee-Gees offense on par with the Golden Hawks. Well done!

I have to admit I had a few concerns with the D after some of the big plays given up against Waterloo, missed tackles against Mac and failure to account for the QB running against Western. Laurier’s RB and WRs are very talented and would be very dangerous in the open field if initial tackles were missed or a coverage blown. Same with QB Knevel if he isn’t contained. The D handled it all very well.

Pressure vs Sacks – Anyone just looking at the Box Score [0 sacks] won’t appreciate that the defensive front did a pretty good job of pressuring Knevel. He didn’t have a lot of time. He took several solid hits as he released the ball. He only had one run of any significance [13 yards]. The Gryphon D never let him get comfortable and into a groove, and it showed.

QB hit vs WLU.jpg

Alain Cimankinda hits Laurier QB Michael Knevel   Photo:Gryphons.ca

Chili Bowl Cookoff VII – There is a new Champion! After 3 consecutive wins, and 4 wins in 6 years, Dan & Andrea Crabbe were de-throned. But it isn’t about the winning. It was a great time to greet new and old friends. There were 8 chilis to be sampled, the most entries in several years.

Chili Bowl vii

Playoff Picture – While the coaches and players need to take it one game at a time, as a fan I don’t mind looking ahead. I believe Guelph has secured themselves a playoff spot with this win. Another win this coming Saturday at Carleton and they have a very good shot at hosting a Quarter-Final game. That is based on my expectations that Western will beat Ottawa and McMaster will prevail over Laurier.

A third consecutive win would boost the Gryphons record to 5-3. Not too bad after an 0 & 2 start. They would have some nice momentum heading into the playoffs.

 

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Game 7 preview: Laurier at Guelph

Multiple Choice Question: Tomorrow’s game is …

  • Guelph’s Breast Cancer Awareness Game
  • the OUA’s Marquee Matchup of the Week
  • the Gryphon’s final regular season game at home
  • a very important game with playoff seeding implications
  • a matchup of USports Top 10 teams

Answer: All of the above

Laurier Game promo

The University of Guelph and Gryphon Football program don’t just give lip service to Breast Cancer Awareness aspect of the game. They took it seriously.

If you haven’t already checked out the media coverage you can read the story and contribute to the cause.

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Playoff Implications

Laurier is already guaranteed a playoff spot. Guelph could lose tomorrow and still make the playoffs by beating Carleton next week.

On the other hand, a Guelph victory could possibly set up a scenario where the two teams would finish he season tied with 5-3 records.

I don’t believe Guelph has a chance to host a playoff game without winning this game.

Game Previews & related links

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons vs Laurier Week 7

The Golden Hawks can put up points, averaging 42.3 points across six games, second in the OUA to only Western (45.3).

“They have playmakers all over the field and an ability to score throwing the ball deep, throwing the ball short, running the football,” MacNeill said. “Their players can take it to the house from anywhere. The challenge is to prevent the big plays and make sure that we’re not putting ourselves in a position where they can get on you quick.”

Laurier Athletics: Golden Hawks take on Guelph

Laurier and Guelph have two of the highest scoring offences in the country. The Golden Hawks sit third in U Sports scoring 42.3 points per game, while the Gryphons are fourth averaging 40.2 points per game.

OUA.ca: 55-Man Rosters for Week 8

Most notable thing here is that QB James Roberts is not listed on the 55-man roster for the game. The next most significant thing would be the inclusion of Alain Cimankinda on the game roster. Cimankinda did not play two weeks ago at Waterloo. If his ankle is 100% healthy that is a big deal for the Gryphons

Recent series history:

There have been a lot of close games in this series over the last decade. The Gryphons had built a nice little winning streak with 4 consecutive victories before last year’s loss.  The Hawks held the upper hand for the decade prior to that. Laurier leads the series with a record of 42-17-0 against Guelph dating back to 1963.

2016 – 27-25 WLU
2015 – 30-19 Guelph
2014 – 41-36 Guelph
2013 – 21-7 Guelph
2012  – 22-19  Guelph
2011 – 15-10  WLU
2010 –  WLU wins Q-final
2010 – 36-2  WLU
2009 – 21-14  WLU
2008 – 15-13  WLU
2007 – 38-31  Guelph wins OUA semi-final
2007 – 37-27  WLU

Broadcast Options

TV:  Live on Rogers Cable 20 (for viewers in Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford & Stratford)
Online: 
 www.oua.tv

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More on the win at Waterloo

Having a bye week allows me to share some additional info and thoughts on the win over Waterloo. Most weeks I don’t find the time to post a second post-game story even though I would like to.

A week later this win still seems important. In fact, after the Warriors were destroyed by Queen’s 68-17 on Thursday night, a loss to the Warriors would look absolutely terrible.

As I said a week ago, the win was ugly. The Gryphons played a poor game. They made so many mistakes that they gave the Warriors a real chance to win it. The one highlight is the character they showed in coming back from 20 points down to win.

Anyways, on to …

Players of the Game

PoG Wk6

Read the full Gryphons.ca article here. Worth noting … at the end of the article is a list of the Players of the Game for each game this season.

Not only was running back Johnny Augustine selected a Gryphon Players of the Game, he was named the OUA Offensive Player of the Week for his 3 touchdown performance.

I actually left that game thinking that QB Theo Landers was the likely choice as the top offensive player. That wasn’t intended as a slight to Augustine but recognition that Landers did an excellent job in his first-ever start. Mike Hogan seemed to be thinking the same way as he named Landers his choice for Weekend Warrior on Krown Countdown U this past week. [He talks about Landers at 21:18 mark.]

Also, from Hogan’s Week 6 OUA In the Huddle column on OUA.ca …

When the Guelph Gryphons looked up at the scoreboard after three quarters last Saturday, they were facing a 39-26 deficit to the hometown Waterloo Warriors, and were sporting a 2-3 record with their playoff hopes slipping away. And by the way, they also had their back-up quarterback leading the way. Little did they know it at the time, but the Gryphs had the black and gold right where they wanted them.

Third-year QB Theo Landers, playing for the injured James Roberts, was making his first OUA start. He wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible in the first 45 minutes, but something started to click for the Maple Ridge, B.C. product when the pressure was at its most intense.

He threw a five-yard TD pass to Jacob Scarfone on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to six, but just two plays later, the Warriors scored a touchdown of their own. For many teams that would have essentially ended the game, but Landers led Guelph on a seven-play TD drive, capped by the QB calling his own number for a five-yard score.

A pair of Gabriel Ferraro field goals would tie things up, but the Warriors would counter with a FG of their own to take a three point lead. After the ensuing kick-off, Landers and the Gryphons took over at their own 45-yard line with just 58 seconds left on the clock.

After two pass completions, Landers would hand the ball off to Johnny Augustine, who raced 22 yards for the go-ahead score with just 22 seconds left, helping the Gryphons escape with a 53-49 win to keep their post-season hopes alive.

In the fourth quarter alone, Landers was 8-11 passing for 94 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 20 yards and another TD.

Landers would finish with 205 passing yards and 106 more on the ground to lead all rushers.

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The Gryphons break into the Football Reporters of Canada Top 10 rankings for the first time this season – USports Football Top 10 – Movement in the back five.

FRC – U SPORTS FOOTBALL TOP 10 (#6)

RANK SCHOOL SEASON VOTES (PTS) PREVIOUS
1 Montreal (4-0) 182 (12) 1
2 Calgary (5-0) 171 (7) 2
3 Laval (4-1) 151 3
4 Western (6-0) 142 4
5 Laurier (4-1) 109 5
6 McMaster (4-1) 79 * 7
7 UBC (3-2) 79 6
8 Regina (3-2) 60 9
9 Saint Mary’s (5-0) 41 10
10 Guelph (3-3) 10 NR
* McMaster edges UBC for 6th place based on number of higher-placed votes.
Other teams receiving votes: Ottawa (8), Saskatchewan (5), Waterloo (3), Concordia (3), Carleton (2).

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My Final Thoughts on the Game

In my preview of the game I wrote …

The defense and special teams units need to play very well so that the offense isn’t backed up on their goal-line or having to play from behind. I think both units are very capable of doing that. Some big returns and forced turnovers would be extremely helpful in taking the pressure off of Landers shoulders.

Very little worked out as I expected. The D allowed way too many explosive plays by the Warriors. The two that really bothered me were blown coverages that resulted in huge pass completions for the Warriors. Our normally reliable special teams units had two costly fumbles that led to UW scores. Those turnovers were offset by Jason Richards 96-yd KO return for a TD and a beautifully executed short kickoff recovery.

Two other blunders resulted from apparent brain cramps – intercepting a ball that should have been knocked down and returning a KO out to the 2-yd line rather than giving up a single. Both cost the Gryphons huge chunks of field position in the first half.

I’m still at a loss to explain how, on a day when these units needed to step up, they came up with such inconsistent efforts. I’d say the same about several dropped passes in the first half.

Everything that you didn’t want to have happen in a game with a first-time starting QB, happened – bad field position, dropped passes and the pressure of having to play from behind.

In the end it all worked out. That’s why I consider it a great character win even if it wasn’t an overall strong performance.

Landers to Augustine

Photo: Doug Pflug

Speaking of strong performances, and consistency, Gabe Ferraro was outstanding. He hit on 3 of 3 FGs. None of them were chip shots – 32, 41 & 51 yards. And for the second game in a row his punting was solid with an average over 39 yards per punt.

Guelph lost the turnover battle 4 to 0. [I don’t count Guelph’s INT because that pass should have been knocked down, not caught.]

Guelph did do a good job with respect to limiting penalties. Nine for 55 yards is something I can live with. The Warriors hurt themselves with 17 penalties for 127 yards. I don’t buy the excuse that penalties cost Waterloo the game. Guelph moved the ball with ease in the final minute. Johnny would have gone the distance on his game-winning TD whether the ball was on the 22 or the 52. With 23 seconds left and timeouts the Gryphons could have run several more plays.

QB Landers played his best with the pressure on. I think that is a game changer going forward. Hopefully, we will see the coaches rely on him more as a dual threat in short yardage and goal line situations, even after James Roberts returns. He could be very hard for other teams to defend.

Being able to convert on a regular basis, in 2nd-&-short and 3rd-&-short situations, is big. If Landers can pull the ball and run or pass defenses won’t be able to pack as many bodies into the middle. I’d love to see him running the ball from the shotgun in short yardage like Clemson did with Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson.

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Gryphons involved in CFL transactions

Curtis-Newton-Argo

LB Curtis Newton

On October 4 the Hamilton Tiger-Cats made this announcement

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Wednesday that the following player has been released:

NAT – LB – Curtis Newton

But you don’t need to worry about Curtis being “unemployed” for long, as the very next day this announcement came from the Toronto Argonauts …

TOR ADD  NAT Curtis NEWTON (LB)    Guelph

Newton is listed on the Argonauts dress roster [#45] for their home game at 4:00 PM today against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Also in the Argos lineup are long snapper #58 Jake Reinhart and wide receiver #11 Alex Charette.

Now in his fourth season Reinhart is the longest serving Gryphon with the Argonauts. This will be Charette’s 3rd or 4th game on the dress roster after being added to their practice roster in mid-August. Charette has already recorded 3 special teams tackles in double blue.

Not playing in the game for the Argos this week are a pair of defensive linemen. Jeff Finley was starting at DT before a September shoulder injury put him on the injured list. More recently it was Cam Walker

TOR TRF TO INJURED NAT Cameron WALKER  (DL)    Guelph – to Nov-25^^ (Nov-13)

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Bomber logo

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers also announced this week that they brought back one of their 2017 CFL Draft picks …

WPG ADD  NAT Ian MAROUF  (DL)    Guelph

Back in May the 6’1 295-pound Marouf reported to the Bombers training camp with a lower body injury and never fully participated in any training camp practices. It is good to see that he is getting an opportunity. Hopefully some time on their practice roster leads to being re-signed for 2018, if not an opportunity this season.

marouf draft image

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Big Comeback Win Over Waterloo

With as many mistakes and blunders as the Gryphons made, I find it hard to believe that I’m actually happy with this win.

In another sense, I’m only happy with this result because the Gryphons overcame as many mistakes and blunders as they did. This could have been a terrible loss resulting from way too many self-inflicted wounds.

As I said on Twitter …

And, there is no question that the game was exciting …

The Game Recaps & Stats

If you’re only going to read one story of the game it should be Mark Bryson’s account in the K-W Record – Warriors suffer disappointing setback. It is thorough and has some good quotes from both coaches …

WATERLOO — Those involved with the football rebuild at the University of Waterloo knew there would be growing pains along the way.

The latest one was especially unpleasant.

The Warriors, well on their way to their biggest win of the Chris Bertoia era, were outscored 27-10 in the fourth quarter … Johnny Augustine capped the comeback with a 22-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining as the Gryphons (3-3) handed the Warriors (4-2) their second consecutive defeat.

The sting of the setback, said Bertoia, was far more painful than last week’s 71-24 loss to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.

“Absolutely … at the end of the day, a loss is a loss, but the ones that are tight, the ones you believe you should have won, those are more difficult to swallow,” said the third-year coach

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons Rally to Last Minute Win

Landers was making his first career start … and he was solid, completing 16 of 26 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown, while running the ball 13 times for a game-high 106 yards on the ground and another touchdown.

“Theo was very poised,” MacNeill. “Even in the first half, he wasn’t quite making all the plays but he was very composed and we believed in his ability to extend drives.”

UWaterloo Athletics: Heartbreak: Gryphons come back to down Warriors on last-minute touchdown

The Waterloo Warriors owe much of their success on the football field this season to their youthful exuberance. But late in their home finale against the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday, that turned into inexperienced miscues at the worst possible time.

GuelphToday.com: Huge second half propels Gryphons

Guelph trailed 29-12 at the half before the offence caught fire after the break.

Quarterback Theo Landers, making his first career start in place of the injured James Roberts, threw for 205 yards and a touchdown but also ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. Augustine had 91 yards on the ground.

OUA.ca website: Box Score and Stats

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Here’s the game-winning TD!

I love the blocking! I watched it a dozen times. Every O-Lineman – (l-r) Jaylan Guthrie, Andrew Pickett, Colin Jerome, Coulter Woodmansey, Eric Starczala – wins their battle, as does receiver Jacob Scarfone who comes into the backfield in motion and handles the DE 1-on-1.

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This win makes my really happy for two people – first-time starter Theo Landers and Head Coach Kevin MacNeill.

Obviously, this should be a boost to Landers’ own confidence as well as that of his teammates in him. After a tough first half the Gryphon offense put up 350 yards and scored 41 points under the direction of Landers.

In the case of MacNeill, to have fallen to 2-4 after last year’s 3-8 record would have raised some eyebrows and given ammunition to critics. (I include rival OUA recruiters in that group.)

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I referred to mistakes and blunders above. Among those items I include …

  • a dropped pass on their second possession cost the Gryphons a touchdown. They were on their own 32 when Landers put the ball in the hands of an open receiver 60 yards down the field. The receiver did not have to break stride and was 4-5 yards behind the DB trying to cover him.  That drop cost the Gryphons a 78-yd touchdown.
  • the interception of a deep pass when Waterloo gambled on 3rd-&-6 from their own 41. Knock the ball down and Guelph takes over on Waterloo’s 41. Intercepting the ball at Guelph’s 32-yd line cost the Gryphons 37 yards of field position. A stupid mistake.
  • another dropped pass early in the second Q negated another potential TD. With the Gryphons backed up on their own 1-yd line Landers put the ball in the hands of receiver who had split the UW DBs deep over the middle. If caught that pass would likely have gone for a 109-yd touchdown.
  • a fumbled punt that Waterloo recovered on the Guelph 1-yd line. UW scored on the next play.
  • the poor decision to return a KO from deep in the end zone, instead of conceding a single point and taking the ball at the 35, forced Guelph to start a drive from their own 2-yd line.
  • a couple of blown coverages led to two UW scores and accounted for more than 150 yards given up.

These are just the first half “mistakes and blunders” I remember. Fortunately there weren’t as many in the 2nd half.

Jason Richards TD return.jpg

#36 Jason Richards breaks free for a 96-yd kickoff return touchdown   Photo:GerryFraser

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Game 4 preview: Gryphons @ Waterloo

I don’t mind admitting that this is the first time in years that I have looked forward to a game against the Waterloo Warriors. It wasn’t that way just a few months ago.

Warrior Field logoWhen the OUA schedule came out I looked at Guelph’s dates and matchups, compared them with Clemson’s schedule and decided I didn’t mind missing the Waterloo game in order to take in a Clemson game in person for the first time in a decade. Now I’m actually glad that my planned trip to Blacksburg, Virginia didn’t work out.

The Warriors are the biggest surprise team and the best good-news story of the year in all of USports football. I expected them to be improved but I never imagined that they would be able to win 4 games.

It’s a little different for the Gryphons, who with a 2-3 record, I think you would group with Carleton as one of the disappointing teams. The time is right for a change of fortunes and Guelph still has every opportunity to have a successful finish to the season.

It’s not like the Gryphons have played terribly. In fact, reading a preview of the Western-Laurier game reminded me of that. A reference to how well Western’s defense has played included mention of the fact that they have only given up 68 points thru five games. Guelph scored half of those points in their OT loss to the Mustangs. McMaster, York, Windsor and Queen’s managed to score the other 34 points in their combined four games.

Some of My Thoughts on this Game

♦ This is a very important game. Technically, the Gryphons could lose this game and still make the playoffs. In fact, the season finale at Carleton actually holds greater playoff significance. But another loss and it will be hard to hold out a lot of hope. The good news … I fully expect the Gryphons to win.

♦ The Gryphons are going to have to win it without starting quarterback James Roberts. I’ve not heard that officially but I understand he did not practice all week. After suffering what was almost certainly a concussion last week I can’t imagine him playing. The opportunity to lead the offense will fall to 3rd year QB Theo Landers. This will be Landers first-ever OUA start. Freshmen Brayden Lassemba is the other QB listed on the dress roster for the game.

Theo Landers

Theo Landers in relieve of James Roberts against McMaster on Homecoming        Photo:Megan Pickett

♦ I expect we will see OC Joncas change up the play calling to take advantage of Landers’ strengths. I expect that will mean more emphasis on the run game and more use of the read-option. Landers has a strong arm and throws a nice ball but my concern at this point is that he has thrown too many interceptions in his limited play this season.

♦ I’m not too concerned about Landers passing if the offense can establish the run first. I hope that he isn’t placed in a situation where we have to pass on every down or we are repeatedly in 2nd-&-long. Landers was at his best in the exhibition mini-game with Mount Allison. He hit on 6 for 7 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He was also effective running the ball with 4 carries for 28 yards.

♦ The defense and special teams units need to play very well so that the offense isn’t backed up on their goal-line or having to play from behind. I think both units are very capable of doing that. Some big returns and forced turnovers would be extremely helpful in taking the pressure off of Landers shoulders.

♦ Waterloo has come a long way but as their 71-24 loss to Laurier showed they still have a long way to go. Their three years under Chris Bertoia started with a 16-game winning streak over two seasons, followed by their 4-game winning streak to start this season. I think that losing streak will be extended to two today.

♦ This isn’t the first time that Guelph has gone into an important game against Waterloo. Back in 2009 the Warriors had high hopes of knocking off the Gryphons and earning a playoff spot when starter Justin Dunk was forced to sit out the game. Backup QBs Kurtis Dance and Chris Rossetti combined to lead the Gryphons to a 34-24 win.

♦ The Gryphons and the Warriors have two common opponents through their first five games – Windsor and UofT. They are both 2-0 against those teams but the Gryphons won much more easily in those games.

Guelph vs Windsor – 82-10
Guelph vs UofT – 43-6

Waterloo vs Windsor – 54-33
Waterloo vs UofT – 28-23

Combined scores against common opponents – Guelph 128 to 16, Waterloo 82 to 56.

The Previews & Other Links

Gryphons.ca: Guelph Looks to Rebound Against Upstart Waterloo

The Gryphons will need to put last Saturday’s 29-9 Homecoming loss to the McMaster Marauders behind them against the Warriors, who are dealing with their own demons. Waterloo suffered a 71-24 defeat to rival Laurier immediately after making an appearance in the U SPORTS Top 10 for the first time since 2007.

Both teams will be desperate for the win to get back on track.

“We’re definitely a little bitter about last week but you just have to move on to the next one,” says third-year linebacker Riley Baines. “We’ve got our game plan about what we’re going to do against Waterloo. We’re optimistic about how we’ll execute it.

UWaterloo Sports Info: Warriors football takes centre stage

Waterloo is coming off a tough defeat at the hands of the undefeated Golden Hawks but the 71-24 loss is not indicative of the entire game.  Waterloo had all the momentum midway through the second quarter but a few costly penalties and missed tackles would change their fortune for most of the contest.  Guelph has also had some misfortune early in their season, having lost twice in overtime and a very difficult schedule.

OUA.ca: Week 6 – 55-man Rosters

Recent history:

Guelph is 7-0 versus the Warriors since 2007. Not many of the games were even close. The average margin of victory – 33.3 points. I’m not certain when UW last defeated Guelph but I’m guessing perhaps one of Tuffy Knight’s teams at the turn of the century.

2016 – did not play
2015 – 78-7 Guelph
2014 – did not play
2013 – 41-19 Guelph
2012 – 47-17 Guelph
2011 – 65-13 Guelph
2010 – did not play
2009 – 34-24 Guelph
2008 – 37 -22 Guelph
2007 – 41-8 Guelph

Broadcast / Social Media Options:

Online Streaming at OUA.tv – the linkRogersTV_logo
Cable Television – Live on Rogers Cable 20 (for viewers in Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford & Stratford)
♦ Twitter – Wondering who to follow? Look for game updates, news & photos, beginning with the pregame tailgate party from @GryphonsLair . I may even tweet a couple times myself @petergryphon. I expect @guelph_gryphons  and @WlooWarriors will provide score updates.

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Thought & links on loss to Mac

Tackle vs mac.jpg

Photo: Megan Pickett

Due to overuse I’ve stopped using the word “disappointed” to describe my feelings on Gryphon games over the last season and a half.

Yesterday my new word was “embarrassed” but on reflection that is a little too strong. Certainly the score was embarrassing but the effort didn’t reach that level.

It may turn out that this loss doesn’t have a big effect on the season other than playoff seeding.

Game Recaps and Stats

Gryphons.caMarauders Spoil Homecoming

Early on, it was the McMaster defence who were feeling the effects of the heat as they were on the field for the majority of the opening 15 minutes of play. In the 1st quarter, the Gryphons ran a total of 22 plays on offence, compared to just seven for Mac, but were forced to settle for a pair of Gabe Ferraro field goals and a 6-0 lead.

The problem I have with settling for a pair of field goals is that it wasn’t the Mac D that forced the Gryphons to settle, it was Gryphon mistakes.

On the first Guelph drive it was a dropped TD pass that forced the Gryphons to settle for a FG. It wasn’t even a long or contested pass. It was short and right in the receivers hands.

On the second drive, after marching the ball from their own 12 into Marauder territory it was a dropped pass on 2nd-&-5 that denied the Gryphons a 1st down within FG range and resulted in a punt.

The Gryphons easily could have been up 13-0 or 17-0 instead of 6-0. Those points are absolutely critical against a team with a good defense and a struggling offense like Mac.

Marauders.caMarauders stun Guelph 29-9 at Gryphon homecoming

But the second quarter saw Jackson White and the Marauder offense find their legs, and after a field-goal brought the score to 6-3, the rookie QB engineered a scoring drive that saw Tyson Middlemost with his first career touchdown catch, as Mac took a 10-6 lead.   The Gryphons got a late field goal to close within 10-9 at the intermission.

Receiving the kick-off to start the second half, Mac’s Justice Allin had a big 48-yard return to give McMaster great field position.  On the second play from scrimmage after the big return play, White hit Tommy Nield for a 64-yard touchdown and the momentum was all Maroon.

Playing without starting quarterback James Roberts, who left the game late in the first half, the Gryphons struggled to move the ball behind back-up Theo Landers.   Conceding a safety, Guelph faced a 19-9 deficit after three quarters.

OUA.caStats and Box Score

Other than the turnover differential (two interceptions thrown by Theo Landers were the game’s only turnovers) the stats paint the picture of a very close game. Quick reminder: Stats are for losers.

BTW the official game stats do not include any sacks though Marauders.ca reports that they recorded 4 sacks against the Gryphons. Several sacks by the Gryphon D are recorded as tackles-for-loss [TFLs].

Landers run.jpg

QB Theo Landers runs for a first down    Photo: Megan Pickett

My Thoughts

The biggest question coming out of the game yesterday surrounds the injury to quarterback James Roberts. The speculation yesterday was that Roberts suffered a concussion. I’ve not heard that confirmed officially but it makes sense based on what we saw.

Assuming that is the case, the one positive is that Roberts did not re-enter the game. We’ve seen cases where a concussed QB returned to the game when he probably never should have been allowed to – for example, UWO’s Will Finch in 2014 and Ottawa’s Victor Twynstra in the season opener.

With the score 10-9 at the half, losing Roberts for the 2nd Half may, or may not, have been the turning point of the game. If it was, that’s not an excuse in my opinion. It’s on us that we didn’t have a game-ready backup QB.

There are lots of things to like about Theo Landers but I’ve never felt like he had the experience to be ready to step into a situation like that and win the game for us. Guelph hasn’t been in the position of having a game ready backup since Roberts backed up Jazz Lindsey in 2014.

Initially the play calling suggested that the coaches had some reluctance to let Landers throw the ball.

To put it in perspective, both of McMaster’s true freshmen QBs had more passing attempts heading into yesterday’s game than Landers has in his 3 years at Guelph. After yesterday’s game Landers has 26 career attempts and zero starts. The Mac freshmen have 100 passing attempts [White 66 / Dueck 34] and 4 starts between them.

A couple other quick points …

♦ After the UofT game I gave rookie Centre Colin Jerome credit for becoming more accurate with his shotgun snaps. Either I wasn’t watching closely enough or he regressed against Mac. Thankfully he hasn’t made any snaps that resulted in turnovers or significant loss of yardage but some off-the-mark snaps are messing with timing and execution. Worth noting, I did see Jerome pancake Mac’s 330-pound, all star DT in the 4th Q.

♦ Statistically our running game was better than Mac’s – 122 yards vs 103 and an average gain of 3.3 vs 2.9 – but it left a lot to be desired. Johnny Augustine and Theo Landers led with 72 and 48 yards. Running back Jamal Hooker only had a single carry against Mac. Game 1 starter Patrick Pierre who opened the season with a 100 yard game, hasn’t had a carry in the past two games. He was on the 55-man roster but I don’t recall seeing him.

Failure to convert on 3rd-&-inches at the beginning of the 2nd Q was one of the game’s turning points. The inability to pick up half a yard gave Mac the ball on our 44-yd line. Up to that point in the game the Marauders had zero 1st downs and 4 consecutive 2-&-outs. After that momentum shift Mac ran 9 plays, picked up 3 first downs and got on the scoreboard with a 28-yd FG.

♦ Kicker Gabriel Ferraro continued to perform like an All Canadian going 3 for 3 on field goals including a long of 48 yards. But I was encouraged with what I think was his best punting performance of the season. He didn’t shank any punts and averaged 39.3 yards per punt. With 3 games remaining Ferraro could challenge his older brother Daniel’s USports record for FGs in a season.

♦ By all appearances McMaster seemed to be making a deliberate effort to punt/kick the ball away from freshman returner Ryan Isenor. What a sign of respect that is.

♦ When Mac was able to move the ball, a lot of times they were converting on 2nd-&-long. On too many of those occasions Gryphon tacklers missed the initial tackle, thus allowing the Marauders to pick up the extra yards necessary to for 1st downs. That is inexcusable.

♦ Another problem I saw on defense was a repeated tendency to have our defensive ends over-rush, essentially allowing Mac’s OTs to run them right of the play. By getting too deep they left an opening for the Mac QB to step up and escape the pocket by rolling out. It happened too many times and resulted in positive plays. IMHO they would have been better off to have limited the depth of their rushes and kept the freshman QB contained in the pocket and under pressure.

OL vs Mac.jpg

Photo: Megan Pickett

 

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Game 4 Preview: Homecoming vs McMaster

The Homecoming Game is always a special event with the biggest crowd of the year . This year will be no exception.

Thousands of students did their part, lining up and buying all the $15 student tickets.

The Parents of Players group are already on-site getting ready for tomorrow’s tailgate.

roast pig.jpg

The pig is already on the barbeque. It will feed many at tomorrow’s pre-game tailgate party.

A large group of prospective recruits are also expected. It will include Alberta receiver Jack Tocher along with his father, former Gryphon All Canadian receiver, Dan Tocher. The younger Tocher won’t be the only Albertan on hand for a recruiting visit. A top Alberta defensive lineman whose mom is a Guelph grad and former varsity rugby player is also in town to check out what Guelph has to offer.

A group of recruits from Canada’s #1 ranked high school team, London’s South Lions, will be on hand, led by their top ranked QB Ethan Martin, TE Spencer Nicholls and OL Sekilas Doxtator. Coming in from Hamilton’s St Thomas More High School will be nationally ranked running back Michael Chris-Ike. A total of 25 top prospects is expected

Game previews & related links:

OUA.ca website: Week 5 – 55-Man Rosters

Gryphons.ca: Game preview & Everything you need to know about Homecoming

GAME DAY INFO

  • 10am:  Tailgate in P7, organized by Gryphon “Parents of Players” (food available with $5 donation)
  • 11am:  Gates open at Alumni Stadium
  • Live music during pre-game & halftime
  • Licensed area/beer garden in south endzone featuring Wellington Brewery products ($5 cover charge)
  • Total of 8 food trucks on location
  • Bouncy castle located by Alumni Walk & Gryphon Fieldhouse
  • 1pm:  Game ball delivered by Skydive Cayuga‘s Adam Winnicki (former Canadian Military Paratrooper)

McMaster.ca: No story found

Hamilton Spectator/The Spec.com: No story found

My Take on this Game

I’m looking for the Gryphons to make a statement tomorrow. Yes, a win is a win and I’ll be happy with any win, even if it is close and ugly. But what I really want to see is Guelph win decisively.

Mac has been a thorn in our side the past five years. They are the only team who have a winning record against the Gryphons since 2012. We’ve had some tough luck in games played at Mac, particularly in 2014. A decisive win would help exorcise that demon. It would also put any lingering doubts about last year’s 3-5 record behind us.

I do believe tomorrow could be the day that the Gryphons win decisively. Why? Well, this version of the Marauders isn’t as well balanced as usual. Their offense has had some serious struggles while their special teams are also less than stellar. The one area where they haven’t fallen down is defense.

On the other hand, Guelph is strong in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. All that Guelph needs to do is to keep playing the way they have been. Avoiding costly mistakes and turnovers will be key. Mac secured their two victories in spite of producing virtually no offense by taking advantage of other teams mistakes.

I hope to see the Gryphons score 30 points while the D plays the way they did against a struggling Ottawa offense in Week 1.

Recent Series History

McMaster has a clear edge in the series over the past decade. Mac has 11-3 edge since 2007 but the Marauders have had the advantage of hosting 9 of those 14 games. It’s notable that Guelph has never won at Mac’s Ron Joyce Stadium which opened in 2008. On a positive note, the Gryphons have not lost at home to Mac since the new turf was installed at Alumni Stadiun in 2012.

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
2012 – Mac 30-13 [Yates Cup]
2012 – Mac 50-9
2011 – Mac 37-13
2010 – Mac 43-35
2009 – Mac 32-29
2008 – Mac 32-31
2007 – Guelph 25-21 [OUA Q-Final]
2007 – Mac 37-36

Broadcast Info

TV:  Live on Rogers Cable 20 (viewers in Guelph area)
ONLINE:  oua.tv &  live radio cusn.ca
RADIO:  TSN 1150

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Gryphons win at UofT

Shaffer-Baker vs UofT.jpg

Kian Shaffer-Baker with one of his game-leading 9 receptions

It took the Gryphon offense a few series to get up to speed.

Two of their first 3 series began in UofT territory but the Gryphons only had 3 points to show for that. Contrast that with the Windsor game where Guelph scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.

Then, the Gryphons struck for 7 points on their 4th possession, a 4-play, 86-yard drive. From that point on they had a steady performance scoring 10, 10, 13 & 10 points over the games 4 quarters. The defense was dominating, holding the Varsity Blues to 9 first downs and 157 net yards.

Game Recaps and Stats

Gryphons.ca: Gryphons roll to 43-6 win over Varsity Blues

The Gryphon defence forced a total of four turnovers on the day (2 INT, 2 fumbles) and held the Varsity Blues to just 21-yards rushing and 142 yards passing. Fourth year linebacker Luke Korol finished the day with a team-high 9 tackles to go along with 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery. Derek Drouillard and Nick Parisotto both came up with interceptions

VarsityBlues.ca: Gryphons get past Blues

“Guelph is a good football team. I thought we played them well,” said Varsity Blues head coach Greg Gary. “Unfortunately it doesn’t reflect that on the scoreboard but I thought we played them like a team that wasn’t afraid. I saw some things on offence and defence that we can get better at but we played hard. There’s no question about that.”

OUA Website: Box Score and Stats

Guelph Sports Journal: Slide show and photo gallery

Guelph Today: Gryphons run over UofT for second straight win This is actually an exceptionally good and brief account of the game. I wish I could be so concise. 🙂

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Gryphon Players of the Game

PoG Wk4.jpg

The full Gryphons.ca story – Gryphon Football Players of the Game – Week 4

GUELPH, ON – Jacob Scarfone (offence), Luke Korol (defence) and Gabe Ferraro (special teams) have been named the Gryphon Football Players of the Game for Week 4 of the 2017 season following the team’s 43-6 win over the University of Toronto.

Ferraro was also named the OUA’s Special Teams Player of the Week

Gryphons fourth year kicker Gabe Ferraro takes home Special Teams Player of the Week honours after setting a new, single-game career-high with five made field goals Saturday at U of T.

Ferraro, who currently leads the OUA with 15 made field goals, finished the day 5-for-6 vs U of T, with makes of 30, 25, 39, 43 and 26.

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A few quick thoughts …

♦ We had a last minute change of plans and stayed home and watched the game on OUA.tv. The broadcast had some of the camera issues that many of them do – sometimes slow following the play, etc.. I have had good luck this season with not experiencing those buffering and freezing problems that too often plagued the games I’ve watched.

♦ QB James Roberts completed 18 passes, half of them were to Kian Shaffer-Baker. That has to be a career high for the sophomore receiver.

♦ I noticed that offensive linemen Andrew Pickett and Andy McFalls were not dressed for the game. That was reason for concern. Turns out both suffered injuries against Windsor. Pickett’s was not serious and he will be rested and ready for play against McMaster. McFalls suffered a broken bone and will miss 5-6 weeks.

♦ OL Ben Petrie appears to be a key guy because of his versatility. He filled in at Pickett’s left guard position on Saturday. Previously he has started two games this season at right tackle and taken some reps at centre.

♦ Speaking of the centre position, I didn’t notice as many off target snaps as I had in previous games this season. Colin Jerome is in his first year as the starter, and while he hasn’t been perfect, he hasn’t had any serious mishaps. The issue has been more one of imperfect placement. The kind of thing that may impact timing on plays but doesn’t result in a loss of yards or turnovers. If he has become more consistent by his fourth game we’ve had a pretty good transition.

OL vs UofT.jpg

L-R Eric Starczala, Coulter Woodmansey, Colin Jerome and Nathan Monk    Photo: Megan Pickett

♦ For the second game in a row it appeared that everyone who was dressed saw action in the game. That is good moving forward with backups being better prepared when they are needed in critical situations.

♦ I don’t really have a lot to say about the defense at this moment other than they have been very good. I’m not really concerned with the stats. I have 100% faith that they will be ready for battle each week.

♦ When it comes to special teams Ryan Isenor continues to impress. I particularly like that he continues to be sure-handed and turnover free. When it comes to kicking Gabriel Ferraro is headed for another All Canadian season in my opinion. He leads the country in made Field Goals and scoring.

 

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