In a crucial off-season for the University of Guelph Gryphon football program more questions have been raised, on the point scoring side of the football, than answers. How will a young offence pick up a new scheme on the fly? Who will replace stud tailback, Nick FitzGibbon? Is there a vertical threat and dynamic return man in waiting if Jedd Gardner sticks with the CFL’s Argos? Can the offensive line keep the Gryphon quarterbacks upright and healthy in 2011? Will a quarterback step up to lead and carry the offensive charge in 2011 and for the future?
Yet another new offensive attack will have to be installed with the hiring of new offensive coordinator, Todd Galloway. Some will debate and oppose the hiring of a coach who is in the beginning stages of developing as a coordinator – this is Galloway’s first season in charge of a university offence. Although, the reality is we do not know who else was in the running for the job and any other possible coaching candidates were secured by other university programs months ago – it is late in the game to be hiring a coordinator. In saying that one would be remiss without mentioning the fact that Galloway spent time coaching at Wilfrid Laurier University. Yes, there is the connection with current Gryphon defensive coordinator Kevin MacNeill (the two coached and played together at Laurier), but more importantly Galloway spent time coaching with the Golden Hawks from 2004-06 as a receiver and offensive assistant with former Laurier offensive boss and current McMaster Marauder head coach, Stefan Ptaszek. The time with Ptaszak is valuable because he is viewed as one of the more innovative play callers Canada wide, proved by the Marauders 36 point per game average in 2010, which ranked fourth throughout the entire CIS. Galloway does bring good qualities to the table, but time will be his toughest enemy as he gets started at his new job.
With Jack Creighton saying thanks, but no thanks to the Gryphon program – attending classes at Guelph for the 2011 winter semester before heading back to the east coast to the same Saint Mary’s Huskies program which he so abruptly left behind just a few months earlier. Some thought Creighton could be the answer at quarterback, but as we know now, that ship has sailed. Chris Rossetti is now the likely starter under centre, even if one of the rumoured quarterback transfers shows up wanting to wear Gryphon colours, they would have to sit out a year due to transfer rules.
Rossetti does have solid amount of starts under his belt, but will be forced to learn his third offence in as many seasons. The St. Mike’s product spent a year as a backup pivot in Kyle Walters offensive system, then had to try and adapt quickly to Perry Machese’s offence when he was hired after spring camp in June of 2010. Meanwhile, just as the 2011 calendar flipped to June, Rossetti and the other Gryphon quarterbacks are posed with the task of once again having to learn and operate in a new system on the fly in training camp.
Continuity is key in any offence. Of course the situation might not always warrant it, but the young Gryphon offence will have to deal with a new set of hurdles, again.
The talk around the team will be positive, as it should be, but the reality is repetitions and lots of them are key to any offensive success.
For proof look at what the offence was or should we say was not able to do a year ago – the unit averaged less than 20 points per game. By no means can the offensive performance of the 2010 season be pinned on just one player, but the lack of success was due in large part to players learning and thinking while in games. Football is a game of instincts. Players must be able to head into a game worry free. An offence needs to be as familiar as the back of one’s hand, which was clearly not the case in 2010, regardless of the talent on the field.
One offensive skill player told me he hopes Galloway opens up the playbook, something Gryphon fans were calling for in 2010. The thing is, to open up the playbook players have to be comfortable enough in the scheme to do so.
One thing that will be familiar for Gryphon players is the task at hand – install and learn a new offence in just a single training camp. No invaluable spring camp to test-drive the new scheme.
The same can be said for Galloway and his new play calling duties. He needs time to evaluate the talent currently on the Gryphon roster and decide how to best utilize his new players in his offensive game plan. Galloway will be learning and teaching his concepts on the fly as well. Essentially university training camp is 10 days long before what teams call ‘day one’ or the first day of preparation for an opponent.
Of course the Gryphon faithful will be hoping to see the scoreboard at Alumni stadium on the move with regularity, but the reality is 2011 could be one where the offence will not have enough time in order to develop and move the digits on the scoreboard as high as they would like.
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