Another day removed from the preseason win in Saskatoon and it still feels good. More important than the score in my mind is the fact that Guelph dominated the game physically. The concern among some that the reduced contact in training camp may not have the Gryphons prepared for the violence of a game no longer seems to be an issue. The “Hit of the Game” was delievered by receiver and team captain Dillon Dimitroff on All Cdn Safety Bryce McCall. You can watch it in these Gryphons vs Huskies game highlights from GlobalTV Saskatoon:
It looks to me from the highlights that DT Kalven Seilis got a hand up to deflect a pass that Zach Androschuk then intercepted.
I hear coaches were “tickled pink” by the play of the offensive line. Matt Richardson was again playing RT (not his normal RG position) and he did it well … Lucas Meschino and Matt Toppan also had strong games … coaches were pleased with the performances of all the rookies once they got over their nerves. With neither Jake Piotrowski or Scott McDooling making the trip freshman Kyle Fraser started at LT (less than a week into his CIS career). Pass protection was strong allowing the QBs to complete long passes. The USask starting d-line was formidable but Guelph picked up positive yards. The push up front became more noticeable as the game wore on, even with rookies in the game.
The rushing stats weren’t huge [123 yards] but they are pretty respectable when you add back 30+ yards lost on bad snaps. Cory Davidson, Mark Rutledge and freshman Ryan Nieuwesteeg all looked good. The Gryphons were able to run inside zone, power, and counter for good yardage every play. The first down numbers  and turnovers [1, +3] were other stats I liked. If our offense can average 27 first downs this season we will be having a winning year. Only producing 18-20 first downs kills our defense, leaving them out on the field way too much and leads to 4th Q collapses.
All three quarterbacks played well. If someone had told me Jazz would only play one quarter and we would beat a quality opponent like the UofS I wouldn’t have believed them. Luke Nangle and Mikey Carney both had strong games. The O went 2 & out on Nangle’s first series. After that he had a solid game – 10 for 14, 143 yards & a TD pass. Carney struggled in his first two series including a dropped snap and getting outhustled by a DL on a snap over his head. He came back and proved that he will be able to compete at this level. All the more impressive when you consider his first Gryphon practice was four days before the game.
I found it a little hard to judge the defense given that the radio play-by-play was often not telling us who the playmakers were. It sounded liked Mike Millar, Jake Reinhart and John Rush had impressive games with Millar generating pressure, Reinhart the team’s leading tackler and Rush making some hard hits and grabbing his first CIS pick. When you look at the net yards the Huskies gained  and remember that 80 of those came in the final minute it wasn’t a bad performance. The defensive backfield made some plays and gave some up but a lot of youngsters saw their first meaningful CIS action. Mark Durigon, who will be a big contributor, didn’t make the trip.
Special teams were solid. The kicking game was good. In fact, the punting, shared by Daniel Ferraro and Julian Tropea was improved over what we saw last year – 42 yd average on Friday night. The coverage teams were good but the return units seem to have the potential for greatness with A’dre Fraser and Alex Charette handling the ball.
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Let me say again, as much as this was a great “feel good” win, it means nothing going forward. Nothing tangible at least because it may offer a boost of confidence to a team coming off a 2-6 seson. The Gryphons are no closer to making the playoffs than they were last week. The film of the game will show that there were lots of missed tackles, blown assignments, silly penalties, etc.. The real benefit of this game will be what the team can learn from it. Guelph returns to two-a-day practices today, one of 8 days they have to prepare for the opener against the defending Vanier Cup champions.