Monday and Tuesday featured a two hour practice in both the morning and afternoon. On Wednesday the team held a four “power” practice, the final one before the preseason game in Saskatoon. The practice schedule will follow a similar pattern after the team returns from the west. Two-a-days on Sunday & Monday, followed by a 4 hour practice on Tuesday.
Based on what I heard, the power practice was primarily instructional – a lot of teaching, not a lot of hitting. The practice was not the fast paced sort we have been accustomed to the past two years where almost no one has time to stand still. There were more players watching (& listening) as other groups received instruction and went through their reps. The first team offense looked sharp and the 2nd group of receivers were also good. Obviously it is still early in the process but the young QBs need to show more consistency. One observer told me he was fairly impressed with the offensive line but still wants to see more from the running backs.
On the defensive side, on day 3 the defensive backs didn’t yet look game ready. There were some players who seemed a little uncertain of assignments. No surprise there really with three starters gone from that unit and a lot of new faces. With the practice very light on hitting it was hard to tell how phyical the unit’s tackling will be. I believe they are in good hands with DB Coach Gregg Butler. He told me previously that while he may have a young group he feels he has the talent there to be a very good CIS defensive backfield.
The new approach with respect to hitting seems to be working with there being fewer injuries so far than the hard-hitting camp of 2011. But the worry is always going to be that an “easier” camp won’t build the toughness that is necessary to win. Friday’s game with the UofS Huskies will give 70 Gryphon players an opportunity to show how ready and how tough they are. One player who unfortunatley won’t be making the trip is redshirt freshmen Mike Ullerick. Ullerick suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday. I had very high expectations for Ullerick. He was one of the stars of last year’s Concordia preseason game with three receptions, two big runs, the games biggest hit and a TD. Ullerick’s injury occurred making a cut on a pass pattern.
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In the Guelph Mercury, a photo and brief description of the work going on in Alumni Stadium.
It occurred to me after reading this London Free Press article that the Gryphons also have a very versatile London lineman in sophomore Matt Nesbitt. As a true freshman he started one game at DT and three games at OG. It would seem to be too early to know but at some point in the future a return to the d-line might be possible. It is the interior of the o-line [Centre & Guard] where Guelph has the most depth, while the interior of the d-line is a little short-handed with the loss of Hunter Bowman. Also, both the starters on the inside – Cam Thorn and Kelvin Seilis – are fourth year players who may or may not be back in 2013.