More thoughts on the Waterloo game

The season is still young and we have yet to really see the Gryphon offense firing on all cylinders. I am far from worried about that. I fully expected a young unit to show some inconsistency early in the year. Of course, producing 47 points, 569 yards of offense and a whopping 40 first downs is nothing to sneeze at. Nor was last week’s effort in Windsor – 28 points, 450 yards and 27 first downs. When this offense can eliminate some of its own mistakes and penalties, it will be extremely potent.

LT Wilhelm #51, LG Nesbitt #67, OC O’Neil #60, RG Mburanumwe #68, RT Richardson #61
Photo: Kim Zabawa

Three different freshmen have started along the o-line in the first three games – Kyle Fraser(3 games), Cam Wilhelm(1) and Jamie Lalonde(1). At times I forget how young sophomore guard Matt Nesbitt is. Yesterday was just his seventh game on offense. Six of them he has started. Last year Nesbitt started at DT versus the Warriors. And it will still be two or three games before it has been two years since Cody O’Neil became a starter at centre. He has become consistently reliable snapping the ball even though the QB frequently moves from under centre to pistol and back again. I believe this o-line is already making lots of progress. It will be very interesting to see how far they have come in another month.  The real tests will be against the veteran, talented d-lines of Western and Queen’s.

Once again Gryphon quarterbacks spread the ball around utilizing eight different receivers. And for the second consecutive week Dillon Dimitroff was the most productive with 4 catches for 75 yards. Fifth year receivers Saxon Lindsey and Michael Fortino had the receiving TDs. Is Jazz Lindsey’s 13 for 30 for 178 stat line anything to worry about? Not in my mind. Consistency will come with experience. He is due for a game where he puts up numbers like he did against Western or Laurier last year – 330 and 343 yards. Continued success from the running game would do wonders to make his life easier. Luke Nangle was solid again in a backup role, going 4 for 4 and engineering two long drives [1 for a TD] in the 4th Q.

As with the Mac game Lindsey’s own receivers didn’t help him at times with several catchable balls going uncaught. I’m not going to blame a QB when the only INT he threw went right through a veteran receiver’s hands. There are still issues that the coaching staff will be working with him to correct but there is no question that Jazz is the man for the job. I do like seeing him run with the ball whether it is a designed play or a scramble. It’s my opinion that in this offense we should be looking for the QB to rush for 60-100 yards per game.

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We may have beaten Waterloo in the special teams battle (maybe not?) but it was far from the level of performance we consistently saw last season. Penalties were a lesser problem than previous weeks but a flag still cost A’dre Fraser a punt return touchdown. I think that is the second one he has had called back in two games. Our return game and coverage teams were decent and it was nice not to see a single flag on us for “no yards”. In that regard it may have helped that Daniel Ferraro’s punting was strong and consistent. But he can’t repeat as ST Pl-of-Wk missing two FGs [35 & 38 yds], though both were close to going thru.

How many times do you ever block a punt and it turns into a negative play? A couple of freshmen special teams players will learn a lesson from that. When a punt block is called in conjunction with a return you can’t just turn and head downfield. Part of Waterloo picking up a first down off the blocked punt was just pure luck. Of all the places a blocked punt could end up it was in between the feet of a Warrior RB.

And what was with that penalty that nullified our recovery of an onside kick?

I would really like to see more momentum-changing plays from our special teams going forward. That would include onside kicks, punt blocks, TD returns, etc. Too many big plays haven’t worked out in our favour often because of our own penalties/mistakes. That must change. We will need plays like that in upcoming games against Laurier, Western and Queen’s.

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I really haven’t commented much on the defense so far this season. I think that has largely been because the D really hasn’t been a issue. While its been far from perfect it has been quite good. I do want to look at the defense in more detail than I have time for right now. Let me just say that yesterday’s performance was only a few plays (i.e. a few mistakes) away from being excellent. As I wrote last night the goalline stand late in the 2nd quarter was a game-changing moment.

I understand many OUA observers may have reservations about the Gryphon D based on the McMaster game score and stats. I think some of that may change as they see what Mac does to other OUA teams. For example, many people criticized me for suggesting that giving up 248 passing yards to Kyle Quinlan in 3/4 of a game or allowing Mac 500 yards of total offense wasn’t all that bad. Now just take a look at the Mac numbers versus Waterloo and Ottawa. Total offense: vs WAT 765 yds & vs OTT 613 yds. It will be very interesting to see what the Queen’s D does this week.

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Freshman DB Colin Mandich

It was nice to see former Gryphons Nick Anapolsky and Jamie Cook have good games for the Warriors. Anapolsky had to be the star of the game for UW scoring both their TDs. Though his first TD was, in my opinion, one of those “few plays” that never should have happened. Later on, Anapolsky got loose on the sideline in the 4th Q for what looked like another potential long TD. What was impressive is that it became clear quickly that he was never going to outrun freshman DB Colin Mandich. Mandich who was in the middle of the field quickly cut off Anapolsky at the sideline. I was absolutely impressed with his speed. While QB Cook got sacked and hammered down numerous times he still showed excellent athleticism and threw some nice passes for the over-matched Warriors.

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