The best word to describe the 2011 season was disappointing, as the Gryphons failed to meet the expectations that almost everyone had for them. If I were to suggest one word to describe the 2012 season before it has even begun, it would be improved. How big the improvement will be is open to debate. While going 3-5 in 2012 would be an improvement over 2011’s 2-6 record, I would still consider it a failure. From my point of view Guelph needs to win a minimum of 4 games and make the playoffs for this season to be successful.
In 2011, Guelph won 2 games in dominating fashion – 63-13 over Waterloo & 51-2 over York. Guelph lost 3 games by significant margins – 35-8 to Ottawa, 37-13 to Mac & 41-21 to Windsor. Three other games were winnable ones that could have gone either way – a 21-12 loss to UofT, a 33-29 loss to UWO & a 15-10 loss to WLU. Of the three close losses, only in the UofT game were the Gryphons outplayed. Guelph was superior to the Golden Hawks and the Mustangs in every way but on the scoreboard. Both of those games were in the second half of the season. So Guelph was just a couple of mistakes away [or a mistaken penalty call that erased a TD vs Laurier] from being 4-4. That’s why I consider 4-4 and a playoff berth to be the minimum acceptable goal in 2012. And even that wouldn’t reflect a big improvement in play over 2011.
The way I see it in 2012, Guelph is only overmatched in one game – McMaster. The Gryphons should be able to compete with Queen’s, Windsor, Western, Laurier and Toronto. The Gryphons will again be heavy favourites to beat Waterloo and York. And while UofT has improved in recent years and given the Gryphons back-to-back tough games, I can’t see them coming to Guelph and winning in our Homecoming Game. Revenge will be a big motivator for the Gryphs.
So the 2012 season boils down to four critical games: Windsor, Laurier, Western and Queen’s. The first two are on the road and the latter two at home. While all four are potentially winnable, a team losing three all star DBs, with a young QB, missing its top OL and without a proven ground game that is probably not achievable. The Gryphons need to find a way to win two of those games. It really doesn’t matter which ones though the contest against the Golden Gaels may be the toughest.
Bottomline: a 5-3 record is a reasonable goal. A 4-4 mark, while acceptable, would leave me a little disappointed. A 6-2 record may be possible but a lot of favourable things would have to happen – i.e. it’s a longshot. I just don’t see a team that will rely on a lot of young players and relatively inexperienced starters being able to play at that required level consistently enough to achieve it.
I think I have higher expectations than most people outside the program. Lots of fans of opposing OUA teams would like to think that Guelph will do well to be 3-5 or 4-4. I believe my expectations are the result of several things I see. Guelph has upgraded the overall level of talent in the program. Stu Lang has built a bigger and stronger coaching staff in the past two years. The Gryphons’ biggest problems last year were on offense and I see most of the issues as either being improved upon or eliminated. We are solid at receiver. We have a QB in Jazz Lindsey who has the talent to be an elite CIS QB. The O-line will be better in spite of the loss of Jake Piotrowski. Our running backs are better than in 2011. This year will be the first time since 2009 that the Gryphons will be running the same offense under the same OC for two consecutive years. It will show in improved execution and offensive output. The Gryphons will be able to take the training wheels off!
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I’d be pleased to read your thoughts on this season so leave a comment below. It would be nice to have an intelligent conversation about the upcoming season. You do need to provide an email address (which does not appear on the blog) but you do not have to use your real or full name. I have approved more than 90% of the comments received, including critical ones, just no insults, profanity, personal attacks, etc..