So far this season most of my comments have focused on individual games one at a time. Having reached the halfway point of the OUA regular season I think it is worth taking a look at where the Gryphons stand in the big picture.
I am happy with the 3-1 record at the midway point. Its hard to imagaine how it could be any better. Realistically, there was no way this team was going to defeat the defending champs on their home field in the season opener. This team appears on track to win five or six games. That is what I would consider a very good regular season.
When I think about the three victories, the 28-9 road win in Windsor has to be the best. Upsetting the country’s #7 team was a big boost for the program’s confidence. I don’t see a poor first half against Waterloo or the turnovers, mistakes and late-game letdown versus UofT game having the opposite effect. There is no reason to lose any confidence when the Gryphons dominated in both those games. If anything, failure to perform up to par in those games should provide further motivation for this team.
In the three victories the Gryphons were the more physical team and won the battles along the line of scrimmage. Even though all three games were close or tied at the half I repeatedly told nervous Guelph supporters at the break that with the way the Gryphons were playing along the LOS there was no way they would lose any of those games. Whether it was during training camp, regular season games or even going back to my thoughts on recruiting, I have focused a lot of attention on the offensive and defensive lines. I’ve generally been very happy with what I’ve seen.
A quick look at the CIS stats and ranking bears out my positive outlook. Consider the following:
- Guelph has given up the fewest sacks  of any team in Canada. In fact, only one player, Ben D’Aguilar, has managed to sack a Gryphon QB. [He is a top 10 CFL draft prospect for 2013.] All 3 occurred in the 3rd Q of the Mac game.
- Guelph’s defense is second in Canada in number of sacks made. Only the Carabins of UdeMontreal have recorded more sacks.
- Guelph is third in the OUA in rushing yards per game. That is an improvement from 7th in the league’s 2011 rushing stats [111 ypg], an increase of 71%.
- Guelph’s run defense is fourth in the OUA in yards allowed per game. In 2011, the Gryphon D was ranked 8th, giving up 173 ypg.
These accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that freshmen are starting or getting meaningful playing time in the trenches on both sides of the ball. On offense, freshman Kyle Fraser has started every game at left tackle. Freshmen Cam Wilhelm and Jamie Lalonde have each started a game. Steve Mburanumwe and Matt Toppan (redshirt) have also seen playing time. On the defensive side, freshmen Zack Mallough and Donnie Egerter have added depth to the interior line and become part of the regular rotation. Ryan Searle and Blake McNeely (redshirt) have made appearances.
To be continued … with a look at the defensive backfield and some individual performances.