Thoughts on the Toronto game

Rob Massey/Guelph Mercury

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.

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12 Responses to Thoughts on the Toronto game

  1. JohnQ says:

    Yorks defence only allowed the Blues to score 10 points. Windsor only allowed them 5 points. We allowed 21.The Blues scored two td’s up the middle with the last one the runner being untouched through a gaping hole. My point Peter is that, a couple of players excepted, both sides of the ball were weak against a team that, as most of us felt, we should have beaten easily. Unless the coaches make some wholesale changes, I fear we are in a rough ride from this game forth. I don’t think anyone would argue that yesterdays game was painful to watch.

  2. jakejazz says:

    Rossetti was beyond terrible, he lost to U OF T. And listening to stu lang throw him under the bus ON NATIONAL TV is disturbing. I couldnt believe it. The offence needs a pocket passer who will give “the best WR’s in the OUA” a chance on the ball. The O line sucks and the run game sucks. Marshall throws pics because he takes chances, rosi doesnt even throw when he needs to. and he never tests the defence over the top. Watch a Western game they throw deep 10 times a game. AND THEY WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS BECAUSE OF IT.

    • Rossetti’s 43 yd TD pass to Dillon Dimitroff was 50 yards in the air and right on the mark. While some strong arm QBs may be able fling the ball 50 yds while backpedalling Rossetti needs TIME to set his feet and throw. Marshall takes chances = Marshall makes bad decisions. Again & again & again.

    • JohnQ says:

      Actually, the team lost to UoT, not Rossetti. Perhaps he should have been pulled from the game much sooner as it was clearly not his best effort. A pocket passer needs a ‘pocket’ to pass from. At one point TO sent only a three man rush against 5 O linemen. 2 got through to Rossetti. I’m sure he’d admit he had a terrible game, but he had weak protection at best. The team lost to TO, blaming it on one persons shoulders is a little harsh. Yorks D held them to 10 points. Our D, again, gave up 21 points. The loss was a team effort. Hopefully we have some productive changes this week during practice.

    • Disagree says:

      On basically everything you said. Guelph runs a spread offense and had great success with Dunk, who was not a pocket passer. The great QBs (Sinopoli, Brannagan etc) all had great mobility. Western certainly does not win championships because of Marshall, they win because they effectively run the ball and play good defence. Marshall adds a great dimension in his ability to run the ball, but his passing ability is average at best, and is definitely facilitated by the fact that the defense is playing run first. The only thing I agree with (and you didn’t specifically say it, but rather hinted at it), is that Guelph should be more aggressive in their playcalling. In a lot of cases, Rossetti hasn’t been hitting the later developing routes because he hasn’t had enough time. They need to find a way to stretch the field with plays that do not take forever to develop.

      • JohnQ says:

        Disagree. A spread offence is by design. Running for your life is a reaction. What type of QB is Rossetti? If he is going to stay #1, then they should tailor the offence around his strengths as well as the ability of his surrounding cast. He definitely has skill, but he needs a better plan to execute. Again, lynching one player for the loss to TO is a scapegoat. We still allowed too many points against a perennial weak team. What other starters, on both sides of the ball, let the team down with their less than adequate play? If the coaches recognize the failures, they can correct the problems. If they stay with the status quo, well, ‘Flutie and Rob Johnson’ come to mind! (Not a quarterback reference, just an analogy)

      • Disagree says:

        JohnQ – I disagreed with the original post, not yours. Don’t be fooled by my name, I agree with you. If the ball wasn’t fumbled on the one, drives were sustained because drops, bad snaps or penalties didn’t occur, if we won the field position battle with better punting, or if we didn’t give up the long play at the end, this might have been a different game just as easily as if Rossetti hadn’t had an off day. That being said, the offense should have done a lot better, and at this point in the season they are committed to the spread offense. To effectively run the spread, you need very athletic lineman. The O-line is learning (and thus getting better) on a weekly basis – this unit will get better as they play together. But its also up to the coach to tailor the offense to THEM as well, and scrap that stuff that they haven’t been able to block effectively. I think of highest priority should be figuring out how to seal off the edge on the roll out, because that gets Rossetti on the move and provides a double threat. Having the Toronto DE split the tackle and fullback double team, and sack the QB on a roll out play is unacceptable.

  3. pee wee says:

    I’ve seen pee wee level QB’s throw the ball much better than Rosetti. He has no arm strength what so ever. its embarrassing to see him throw a high percentage pass like a WR screen and miss his mark. billy brown and the staff better get a good recruiting trip for the best QB in the country to come here next year because Rossetti is not the answer at all.

  4. marcus says:

    Well glad to see there are other people with the same opinion as me on the Toronto game. OK Rosetti isnt the best QB in the league, however in his defence the offensive line needs to give him more support! Now heres a thought…maybe the big 6′ 8″ recruit should be on the O line along with Thorn. Thorn is a big strong guy! The offence needs HELP!! Maybe that would work. Then take some big D Linemen that are standing around and let them play! Once again coaches….look at your roster. Some of these kids are nearly 300 lbs and know how to play….so whats the problem here? The fumble on the 1 yard line was disgraceful, but there probably was no hole to go through.
    If Guelph wants to make the playoffs the coaches had better look around. You cant win football games with only special teams!

    • A coach told me a year ago that Cam Thorn could be a top CFL prospect if he played OL. But that’s not a change that does us any good at this point in time. We had a serious concern about depth on the D-Line prior to the season. So using Thorn to fill one hole would have only created another. But DL is where there have been some pleasant surprises since training camp opened.

      As I’ve written previously, I thought Hunter Bowman would end up at OT but he has proven to be a legit player at NT. In fact, he is much closer to making a significant contribution than coaches expected before he arrived on campus. And his upside is much higher than was thought while he was being recruited. He is a brilliant student with a very strong work ethic.

      • JohnQ says:

        He could be moved at this point Peter. He struggled against TO as a DT on Sat., no tackles. He has only 3 this season in total from his position. Perhaps he could move to offence to shore up a struggling O line. Maybe move the new big guy in as well along with Bowman. That is significant size. Changes need to be made, perhaps this would be a positive one for the offence and for the team in general.

  5. marcus says:

    too bad the coaches dont read this blog…they may learn a thing or 2

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