Spring practice is about a lot of things. It is a time to teach and work on fundamentals. It is a time to install new things. It is a time for young players to get lots of reps. It’s a chance for players to try out new positions. And it’s a chance for coaches to do a lot of evaluating. Typically a lot of fourth year players and established starters don’t fully participate. That’s essentially what Coach Lang told the Guelph Mercury at the start of camp.
“We’re going to give all our second-and-beyond stringers more of the reps,” head coach Stu Lang said. “This is their opportunity to show us how good they are. For example, Rob Farquharson is probably not going to carry the ball a lot this training camp.”
So there is no better time than spring practice for a redshirt or backup player to move up the depth chart. Freshman linebacker Andrew Graham clearly recognizes that.
“This is a huge opportunity,” he said Friday after the first session of the seven-day camp at the Gryphon Fieldhouse. “I got to spend all season last year going against one of the top offences in the country and that really helped me develop as a player. Now it’s come time for me to earn my spot on the team and get on the field (this fall).”
Read the full story (and more quotes) here: Gryphon linebacker looks to stand out.
The Mercury’s other story from training camp focuses on DB Coach Gregg Butler – Gryphon assistant Butler one happy coach.
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The most discussed position change of the offseason would be that of Cam Thorn from DT to OL as mentioned here. Others working at new positions include LB Jordan McCoskey at fullback, QB Mikey Carney at cornerback and RB Ryan Nieuwesteeg at defensive back. McCoskey and Carney were the players-of-the-game in the Scout team game last fall. McCoskey played both ways in that game. While the fullback is used situationally, and not a full-time position, in the spread offense, Gryphon fullbacks play extensively on special teams.
Just as shifting to FB may be McCoskey’s most direct route back onto the field, Carney and Nieuwesteeg’s new positions may allow them to move up the depth chart. With three veteran DBs moving on for the second year in a row this may be the quickest way to get their speed and athleticism onto the playing field.
Within the offensive line several players are working to master new spots. Kyle Fraser who started several games at LT as a true freshman is looking very strong at the RT position left vacant by the departure of veteran Matt Richardson. Matt Toppan who saw some game action as an OG last season is looking good at LT. All the first and second year OLs are getting lots of reps.
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For the third year in a row the Spring camp has been in a different week. Going with late March you run the risk of cold weather and have to deal with players missing some practices because there is still a full class schedule. But waiting until April puts you into conflict with studying for or writing exams. The availability of the Gryphon Fieldhouse eliminates the problem of cold weather. At least in theory.
After practicing indoors Friday thru Sunday, the Gryphons were working outdoors at Varsity Field on Monday evening. And it was quite “chilly” from what I heard. From the looks of the forecast, Thursday may be the nicest afternoon of the week. That works out well for any fans who want to join me at Alumni Stadium to watch the Spring Scrimmage. [5-7pm]