Since the moment I saw the schedule I liked the timing of the Ottawa game. From a February post on this blog …
Our worst games of the past two seasons have been on the road, late in the season versus Ottawa. Opening at home against a GeeGees team that loses many excellent starters could be the change we need.
In fact, Ottawa has lost 13 starters from 2010 – All Cdn QB Brad Sinopoli, 4 of 5 OL & 2 of their top 3 receivers on Offense; allstars DL Sebastian Tetrault & DB Chayce Elliot & three others on defense. The GeeGees also hired a new Def Coord in the offseason. Much better to face a team with that much turnover in the opener than once they’ve got several games experience under their belt. Just think about our own experience last season with the transition of a new QB & O-Line.
Mind you Ottawa does not have to learn a new offense. Their new starter at QB, Aaron Colbon, may not have much experience but he has had three years to learn their system. I’ve got to think that the GeeGees game plan will be to run the ball more than usual. It would take the pressure off their new QB. They have a very talented RB in Brendan Gillanders. Usually an O-line can master run blocking more quickly than pass blocking. And our run defense has been the weak spot of our D in recent years. Plus, all of the turnover on our D is in the front seven. They will want to test our new LBs and DT.
On defense the loss of Tetrault and Elliot is big. Ottawa’s D-line will apparently be noticeably smaller than last season. If that means we can give the QB time to pass we will be in very good shape. Ottawa played without Elliot at corner in the game last season. Their remaining DBs weren’t capable of covering Jedd Gardner. We just need to give the QB the time to deliver the ball. I believe our group of receivers is deeper and faster than last season and can dominate against the uO defensive backs. Our O-Line doesn’t have to dominate Ottawa’s D-Line for us to win, they just have to hold their own. Our zone-read running game can work without overpowering the opposition. I like RB Steve Lagace’s ability to read what’s happening, make the cut and excelerate through the hole.
It was hard to get a true read on the strength of our O & D lines in the Concordia game. We had key starters sit out. All starters saw only limited action as players were being rotated in and out before the 1st Q was done. Concordia played their starters the entire 1st half and kept many in until the 4th quarter of the game. I’m hopeful we’ll see much stronger play up front versus the GeeGees. That will be necessary to ensure that we’re able to run the ball and we can slow down Ottawa’s running game.
Check out Ottawa Sun Sports Editor, and Gryphon parent, Tim Baines’ recent preseason preview of the GeeGees in their hometown paper. The link also has a two minute video with interviews from the GeeGees training camp.
Other notes: With Jedd Gardner needing only 19 receiving yards to break the Gryphon all time receiving yardage record, I expect we’ll see that happen very early in the game.
Duane Forde, CFL Draft analyst, lists DE Kalvin Seilis as one of the top 14 CFL prospects in the OUA … Entering his second CIS season, this 6’5″ former Eastern Michigan transfer definitely has both the physical attributes and skill set to draw CFL interest. From OUA Uncovered: 2011 Football Preview, a 92 page electronic magazine you can view here.