The OUA season opens tomorrow with five games. The Gryphons launch the 2012 season on the road facing the defending Vanier Cup champion McMaster Marauders. Expect a large and noisy frosh-week crowd as the home team plays its first game since their Vanier victory. Taking on the country’s #1 ranked team in week 1 will be a stiff test but getting it out of the way early could be a good thing.
Previous six meetings: Guelph is 1-5 against Mac since 2007. The one victory was a 2007 playoff game in Hamilton where the Kyle Walters-led Gryphons upset the Marauders. In spite of an advantage in the win column for the boys in maroon the games have been very close. With the exception of 2011, all the games have been decided by one score or less.
2007 – Mac 37-36
2007 – Guelph 25-21 [OUA quarterfinal]
2008 – Mac 32-31
2009 – Mac 32-29
2010 – Mac 43-35
2011 – Mac 37-13
Last season: The Marauders provided the opposition for the Homecoming Game. A crowd of 10,000 and a national TV audience watched as the Gryphons got off to a good start. The defense and special teams forced five turnovers but the offense struggled to convert them into points. Guelph missed two FG attempts and led 10-3 at the half but left the door open to the Marauders by not capitalizing on the turnovers and excellent 1st half field position. Guelph maintained the lead until the final two minutes of the 3rd Q. With the offense not producing any sustained drives the defense tired as the game wore on. Mac began to run the ball more effectively as the game progressed. They added an offensive TD & two FGs in the 4th Q. Their final score was a pick 6 after the 3-minute warning.
What to expect from McMaster: The Marauders are the # 1 ranked team in the country. They return most of their key players from the Vanier championship team. Most important is the country’s best QB Kyle Quinlan. Quinlan was suspended and did not play in last year’s game. But Mac is without two other weapons – RB Chris Pezzetta & WR Mike DiCroce – both out with injuries. The Marauder D is very good also.
In the 2012 OUA Season Preview Mike Hogan writes … “How good is this team? It won the National Championship last year and should be even better this year. Mac enters the season as prohibitive favourite to repeat as Yates Cup champs.”
Marauder Coach Stefan Ptaszek said in an OUA coaches’ media conference call, he expects the Labour Day meeting with the Gryphons to be a very tough contest. “We’ll have our hands full,” said Ptaszek, who starts his seventh season on the McMaster sideline. “Their quarterback (Jazz Lindsey) is very impressive. He can move the pocket and throw downfield on the run so he’s very dangerous.”
Point of Interest: The Guelph coaching staff has three former Marauders on it – Steve Viveiros, BJ Mallot and Adam Grandy. On the McMaster staff is former Gryphon Al Anonech along with Jason Kana, the Off Coord at Guelph in 2006 & ’07. Former WLU Golden Hawks hold key positions on both staffs – DC & OC at Guelph; HC, DC & DBs coach at Mac.
Media Coverage: the game is being telecast live on Hamilton community station Cable 14 and live streamed at marauders.ca/live. Audio broadcast of the game is also available online at www.900chml.com or on McMaster campus radio CFMU 93.3 FM.
My thoughts: On Friday night I was in East Lansing, MI to watch Michigan State take on Boise State. The home team Spartans won 17-13 in front of almost 79,000 fans. But I’m actually more excited to see tomorrow’s game at Ron Joyce Stadium. Guelph will be in tough against the Marauders but I hope to see a very competitive game. As the recent history shows these games are usually close. We will see.