Western game preview

I don’t think it would be too hard to make a case that Saturday’s game against Western is the biggest game so far this year for the Gryphons. The winner gains a big edge in playoff positioning. [Just the fact that we are talking about that is a very good sign.] In spite of currently being behind Guelph [4-1] in the standings, the Mustangs [3-2] are ranked higher [#7 vs #9] and favoured to win by most observers. Certainly Western did give McMaster a much more competitive game last week than the Gryphons did in the season opener.

The Marauders are just one of four common opponents the two teams have played. While the two teams’ results against Windsor and Waterloo were roughly equivalent, Western beat Toronto much more decisively, 62-10. I’m not too concerned about margins of victory. I like the way the Gryphons are playing in important areas. Many of our problem areas are correctable and explainable as growing pains with youth in important positions. Just look at the difference in turnovers versus Laurier one week after the Gryphons lost five against UofT. The number of penalties taken has to be an area where we see significant improvement if we are going to beat teams like Western and Queen’s.

For this team the season opener was a long time ago. I believe the Gryphons have improved a great deal. We haven’t played a great game yet, but I believe Guelph is ready to compete with Western. I said as much before the season began. With a very good effort the Gryphons can win this game.

The series since 2007: Guelph has had competitive games with Western in recent years but the only regular season victory goes back to 2007. Guelph has lost three playoff games to Western Ontario during that time including the 2007 Yates Cup.

2011 –  33-29  Western
2010 –  15-8  Western
2009 –  41-39  Western
2008 – 47-16  Western
2007 – 31-17  Guelph

*     *     *

The UWO Mustangs will be without several players when they step on the new turf of Alumni Stadium Saturday. Most of the attention has focused on their quarterback situation but that is not their only injury.

From the London Free Press:

… lost in the shuffle of starter Donnie Marshall’s ankle injury and back-up quarterback Will Finch’s appendectomy, was an injury that is just as serious in its own way as what’s befallen the men under centre.

In the second quarter of the Ontario university football game between the Mustangs and McMaster Marauders Saturday, defensive back Aaron Handsor was running at full speed and tried to make a cut.

He felt something pop in his knee and he went down immediately.

“The ACL is gone but the good thing is they don’t think there’s anything else,” Handsor said. “They are just waiting for the swelling to go down and then they’ll do surgery.”

Links to LFP stories:

Torn ACL end Handsor’s year – The Mustangs lose a 5th year DB.

Will Finch may still start at QB for the Mustangs despite appendectomy – The idea that Finch could play this week after surgery Monday night and with stitches in his abdomen is absolutely ridiculous. I say that as someone who had an appendectomy as a teenager. I know surgery has come a long way since the mid 1970’s but I just can’t see why a coach would put his player at risk.

Western Mustangs face QB woes after 2nd-stringer Will Finch’s emergency appendectomy . I’m surprised that a reporter who covers OUA football is oblivious to the fact that Guelph no longer has a grass field.

The Guelph take on this situation, as presented in the Mercury,

The Guelph Gryphons aren’t about to change their plans for the Western Mustangs, no matter who’s at quarterback for the visitors.

The Mustangs are expected to start third-string pivot Blake Huggins with usual starter Donnie Marshall out with an ankle injury and backup Will Finch having undergone an appendectomy Monday.

“We have to prepare for all options,” Gryphon defensive co-ordinator Kevin MacNeill said. “With Donnie getting hurt last game, we’re preparing for a quarterback who’d be a first-time starter. In terms of it being a second- or third-string first-time starter, the game plan is built around that.

Full story – Gryphs don’t change plans for Mustangs

Canada Football Chat’s CIS Odds:  No. 7 Western (3-2) at No. 9 Guelph (4-1)  Western (-4)

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9 Responses to Western game preview

  1. John Q says:

    Although my prediction was a little off on Laurier score, Guelph still won! Western needs to rely on the running game tomorrow. My bet, Guelphs D is not going to allow many rushing yards, certainly not what Western will be relying on. It would be too risky to allow a QB who just had his appendix out to play (and foolish), so the third string QB will be starting. Guelph has home field and needs the ‘big win’. Home team will win by 8 points !

  2. Hey Pete, you forgot the 07 Yates Cup score. Ah, what a game.

    People are not giving the Gryphs nearly enough credit so far. While I understand why the rankings have the Stangs ahead of Guelph, Western’s QB situation has certainly clouded the crystal ball. Even with Donnie at the helm, I still think your Gryphs could manufacture a win; a team just past the midway point in a season always looks a little different than when it breaks camp. The Lindsay Bros will have to be dynamic but I think they are capable. As Western seems to be trending downward, after their last three tough games, an emerging Gryphs squad could do a little damage to Mustang hopes this season.

  3. John Q says:

    Superfun Happy Slide. I agree with you. I think the Defence is going to sink Western this weekend, with the help of the offence. Guelph has so much offensive talent, It is time for them to avoid the penalties, pile on the points and crush this Western team. The D will take care of the rest!

  4. Dave says:

    The Western defense is very tough. Yards won’t come easy and I don’t see any piling on of points John. Realistic expectations. Good luck to the Gryphons today.

  5. John Q says:

    Just being optimistic Dave!

  6. John Q says:

    Dave. Glad I was right with the ‘piling on of points’. We needed the points to win! Excellent game and very telling. Guelph is for real. Guelph has to eliminate the penalties to give themselves a chance at progressing in the playoffs. Queens is next. Great season for the gryphons so far. Keep it up boys!

  7. Dave says:

    Great win for Guelph. I was getting nervous at the end of the game but a well set up field goal and solid defense to hold on.

  8. That final drive was impressive. With the game on the line the Guelph O marched the ball 55 yards in 7 plays to set up the FG. Mustang defence was more of a speed bump than a roadblock.

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