I like the approach that Coach Lang has taken with the spring scrimmage. Over the past few seasons we have seen it take on a more professional look and feel. Having a full squad of OUA referees is a key part of that. Playing on the new turf of Alumni Stadium was clearly better than using Varsity Field. Thankfully almost all of the snow had melted with only part of the south endzone still snow covered. While the crowd wasn’t huge it was more than you would expect at a CIS spring game. Back in 2010 my youngest son (4 years old at the time) and I made up 50% of the audience. Yesterday the crowd included many parents & family, a few alumni, high school and OVFL coaches, some future prospects and several media people.
Ultimately a scrimmage is still just a scrimmage. Numerous veterans just watched and several players with minor injuries sat out although they were healthy enough to have played in a real game. Rob Farquharson was in uniform but didn’t touch the ball. The running game was still surprisingly productive with Mark Rutledge, Rob Carnegie and Steve Gauntlet all picking up good yardage. Carnegie, a freshman, and Gaunlet, a sophomore, looked to have added some good weight to their physiques.
The passing game on the other hand was more hit-and-miss. Three QBs – Jazz Lindsey, Luke Nangle and Evan Murdza – played. Nangle and Murdza saw the bulk of the action and passed for several TDs but also served up multiple picks. Murdza was very effective scrambling. If one receiver stood out it was probably Joel Mohr. He caught two TD passes including an 80-yd bomb from Nangle. Carl Trivieri also had a TD reception. Back on the field was receiver Jordan Boutilier a 2011 recruit who missed all of last season after having shoulder surgery. The o-line played well but with some breakdowns. Piotrowski, Thorn, Wilhelm and Vesovic were among the OLs expected back for 2013 who did not dress.
There were lots of new faces among those getting reps along the d-line. The only veteran starters playing were Jordan Thompson and Jeff Finley. Back on the defensive side of the ball after spending part of last season working as an OT was Pat Gerrie. In the scrimmage he frequently lined up at one DE position with former KW Preds teammate Blake McNeely at the other. Ryan Searle looked solid at DT and has clearly added weight to his frame. As with every position I wasn’t able to identify all the players. I only recognized afterwards Reza Sheyani and Mike Halfday were two of the other DLs.
Sophomore LBs John Rush and Cam Walker were in action. Walker, who often lined up on the L-o-S, got up high in the air to block a pass. Fraser Speakman had two INTs, one of which he ran back for six. DB Jordyn Mittoo had a pick and long return. I liked the physicality of DB Tristan Doughlin. Converted RB Ryan Nieuwesteeg knocked down what appeared to be a near-certain TD pass. He looked very comfortable in the defensive backfield as did former QB Mikey Carney. Carney did handle the placement duties on all the convert and field goal attempts. The kicks were done without opposition and all into the wind. There were no punts or kickoffs.
I didn’t have an opportunity to speak with any of the coaches after the game as the team immediately had meetings. First on the agenda was feedback from the officials who, other than quick whistles on QB contact, ref’d it like a regular OUA game. That will only help to add to the value of the film. And extensive film in game conditions, particularly for the scout team and backup players, will become a key teaching tool.