I said in the preview it would be an upset if we lost. UofT is an improved team over recent years, especially along the line of scrimmage, but we should not have lost to them. Our players and our coaches know that.
“It’s definitely one we didn’t expect to lose and one that we still don’t think we should’ve lost,” Guelph defensive back Mark Durigon said. “If we play them again, we feel like we’d beat them every time, but that’s football. It happens, sometimes you get upset. We’re going to go back this week and try to fix everything we can to make sure that this type of loss doesn’t happen.” [Quote comes from Guelph Mercury article –Loss to Toronto leaves Gryphons blue.]
I also said a loss to UofT would be a significant setback to our playoff hopes. In actual fact, with Laurier and Queen’s also tied at 1-2, and games coming up versus 2-1 teams McMaster and Windsor, we’ve dug ourselves a hole but its not insurmountable.
There seemed to be widespread agreement that the problem was primarily with the offence – only 107 yds passing, just 273 yds in total . A little criticism was reserved for the kicking game – a missed FG plus punts of 18 & 25 yds. Our defense definitely kept us in this game. They had held UofT to just 225 yds with 1:38 left in the game.
Once again complete stats & boxscore for the game can be found here.
What’s the problem? Just judging by the people I talked to and what I overheard, most of the focus was on quarterback play followed by the offensive line, then the play calling. After the Ottawa loss the O-Line and playcalling/OC got most of the heat, followed by the QBs. I really don’t think determining the right people to blame is the answer.
Most people will know I’ve had confidence in Chris Rossetti as QB. He earned my respect with a fine season as a first year starter in 2010. He does need to play better than yesterday if the Gryphons are going to be successful this year. For him to play better our line has to give him time to throw – he was sacked 5 times and hit hard as he released the ball 4 or 5 other times. But Chris would also make it easier on our O-Line if he was on the mark with all the short and simple passes. There may be an issue of execution here as this is a new offence with different routes and reads. It is not even four weeks since its implementation began. An off-the-mark pass on a WR screen throws off the timing of the play and could get your receiver hurt. Bouncing a screen pass to a RB can end a drive or put you in a second-and-long situation that puts more pressure on your O-Line. Thankfully Rossetti continues to be very careful with the ball. Western’s Donnie Marshall with a huge and experienced O-Line in front of him has thrown more picks. UofT’s Gillis served up three INTs in our game and Waterloo’s Evan Martin five versus our D.
Our offensive line is a work in progress. Only Matt Richardson is a seasoned veteran. We have two other starters who are still relatively new in those roles – Piotrowski & O’Neil. And two more who are starting for the first time this season – Meschino & Parle. The top three back-ups – McDooling, O’Connor & Vesovic – never played in a CIS game before this season. This unit is getting better and will continue to improve as they learn to play together. There will continue to be some growing pains here.
Last season our offence also started slowly. We have more experience at the skill positions this year but they are once again learning a new system. It took several games for our offence to get rolling last season. My best hope is that “things will click” very soon. Everything I’ve heard and seen so far inclines me to like Todd Galloway’s system. There is always going to be a learning curve with any new system. People can always second guess any play call that doesn’t lead to a TD but in general I don’t have concerns about the play calling. Galloway has often called for screens or draws at just the right time. They don’t always work but that doesn’t mean its not the right call. I’d really like to see some QB draws as well.
Something else I haven’t seen run as much as I would like are the zone read option plays. Our QBs can be successful as running threats. Rossetti was the team’s #2 rusher last season. I would like to see some of the passing options including the shovel pass off the zone read option. I have to think that these plays would not only cater to the strengths of our QBs & RBs but our O-Line as well.
Final Thought: This was Toronto’s home opener. Their Varsity Centre is the same venue where they defeated the Ottawa GeeGees last season. Ottawa still made out okay on the season as I recall.