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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Preview: Guelph @ Windsor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previews and Related links

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

Gryphons.caGryphons head to Windosr for Week 4 matchup

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

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

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

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

OUA.ca55-man rosters and depth charts

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

Recent series History

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

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

Broadcast options

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

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Preview: Gryphons vs GeeGees in Ottawa

QF 2017 Brandon Gordon

Ball carrier Brandon Gordon rushes vs uO GeeGees Photo:MeganPickett

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

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

My Quick Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, in the 1st Half …

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

And in the 2nd Half …

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

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

Game Previews

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

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

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

OUA website: Week 3  55-man Rosters

The series since 2007

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

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

Broadcast

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

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Gryphons win home opener over York

2018 vs York.jpg

Game Stories and Recaps

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

OUA.ca: Box Score & Game Stats//

519 Sports Online: video highlights

Quick Thoughts & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*     *     *

Players of the Week

U Sports FOOTBALL Top 10  

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

 

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Preview: York Lions at Guelph

york lions logo

Game previews & related links

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

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

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

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

OUA.ca:  55-man rosters not available yet

My Thoughts and Expectations

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

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

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

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

The series since 2007

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

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

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Gryphons lose opener at Mac

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

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

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

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

2018 OLine vs Mac.jpg

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

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

Game Stories and Recaps

Gryphons.ca:  Marauders edge Gryphons in defensive battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUA.ca: Box score  &  Game Stats

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

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Players of the Game

2018 Wk 1 pog.jpg

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

U Sports Football Top 10

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

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

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Korol tackle.jpg

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

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Preview: Season Opener – Guelph at McMaster

Football season is finally here!

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

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

Marauder logo.jpgThis is a rivalry game.

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

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

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

Game previews & related links:

OUA.ca website: Week 1 55-Man Rosters

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

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

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

My Take on this Game

Without doubt, this is an IMPORTANT game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landers run

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

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

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

Recent Series History

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

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

Broadcast Info

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

LIVE STREAM: OUA.tv Click on LIVE EVENTS

RADIO: TSN 1150 & their live stream of the broadcast

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