I can sum up my feelings on the game in one word – disappointed.
I really thought we would do better. I thought we had a good chance of beating an Ottawa team that had to replace more starters than we did. Without a doubt the GeeGees were a better team than I expected. That compounded the fact that our Gryphons played poorly while it highlighted some of our very real deficiencies.
The obvious difference between our program and the GeeGees is that they have greater depth. They have been a top tier team since they rejoined the OUA from the Quebec league a decade or so ago. Its a credit to their recruiting success and player development that they had quality personnel to replace so many player losses.
The major differences were along the line of scrimmage – their surprising strength and some of our biggest deficiencies. The roots of our problems on the line go directly back to the recruiting classes of 2007 and 2008. Of all the offensive and defensive linemen we recruited in those two years only one was playing yesterday – RG Matt Richardson. Experienced 4th and 5th year linemen ought to be the backbone of the team but we’ve got almost none.
Not a single lineman recruit from 2008 is even on the roster this season. John Fitzgerald, who was recruited as a DL, ended up playing a little bit of OL last year. He is the only lineman from that class that ever dressed in a game. Fitzgerald who had done double duty the past two years representing Guelph in both football and wrestling dropped football this season. Admittedly, Mike Millar, who was a LB recruit in 2008, has been a starter on the D-Line.
So with the 2007 & 2008 recruiting classes being washouts with respect to linemen we are having to rely on some relatively inexperienced players. Fortunately we made out considerably better recruiting linemen in the 2009 thru 2011 recruiting classes. There have been linemen from the first two of those classes who have played as freshmen amd started as sophomores. Against Ottawa, 2011 recruits NT Hunter Bowman and DE Jordan Thompson saw playing time in the first game of their careers.
Bottomline, we have some very talented OL & DL but they are mostly just entering their 2nd and 3rd years. So, in spite of the disappointing result on Saturday, I do hold out some hope for improved line play over the course of this season. Talented young players will get better with more playing time.
I actually had other things in mind to say when I started this post. Perhaps I’ll get to them tomorrow. But the point I’m making actually lines up quite well with what most of us have heard Coach Lang say about recruiting. His emphasis on recruiting and the funds raised by by the FoGF will, I believe, yield very tangible results.