If there was one thing I brought away from my visit to the fourth practice of training camp … this team has very good depth. I heard that comment over and over again as I talked to coaches and other observers.
One coach called the depth at tailback astounding.
An offensive coach said the depth of the defence’s “front 6/7 is incredible. The best I’ve ever seen at Guelph.”
Speaking of the overall depth on the roster a long-time observer suggested you had to go back at least to the Dan McNally coached teams of 1992-97 to find this much talent. The Gryphons won two Yates Cups in those years and sent a dozen players to the CFL, so you know we are headed in the right direction.
The depth will play a big role in what is hopefully a long season. It also creates a lot of competition at training camp. A player won’t want to be injured for long if he hopes to make the dress roster. There were several players sporting ice packs on calves, knees, hamstrings and shoulders. While I did see a number of guys on the sideline in white shirts, to date I’ve not heard of any significant injuries.
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I did watch several different position groups but not all. As per usual, half the time in a training camp setting I’m not 100% sure who I am watching. There are no programs with names and numbers. I spend at lot of time trying to figure out who is who. Several players I didn’t recognize until they took their helmets off as they have grown taller, added significant muscle or dropped a lot of body fat. One of those was DE Blake McNeely. He is no longer a 6’5″ “bean pole”, as he has clearly worked very hard (and successfully) in the weight room.
It was nice to see three players who missed the 2012 season with surgery back on the field – OT Jake Piotrowski, WR Jordan Boutilier and Rec/H-back Mike Ullerick.
The young tailbacks – Rob Carnegie, Johnny Augustine, Bryson Dobush and Brandon Gordon – were getting lots of reps while senior Rob Farquharson mostly watched and 3rd-year back Steven Gauntlet was on the sidelines. All of them made big plays. Augustine brings a wow factor with his speed. Gordon got a few oohs and aahs as he made people miss with nifty moves. Carnegie and Dobush seemed particularly adept at picking holes and bursting thru when they developed.
Jazz Lindsey had a good day from what I saw. Evan Murdza looked to be a very effective scrambler when given the opportunity. I didn’t see to much of Mac Blewett or Alec Reid.
With respect to defensive back from what I heard the young guys are still getting adjusted. But people are very optimistic as they display a ton of speed and athleticism. For example a freshman DB may make a mistake allowing a receiver to get open but he is so fast he recovers in time to make a play on the ball or a tackle. Given the raw material here I have no doubt that DB Coach Gregg Butler can mold some freshman with his vets to make a solid unit.
On a final note, one coach mentioned that the kicking game was better so I asked Bill Brown about that. He seemed quite pleased with where they were at. Apparently Daniel Ferraro worked very hard with Coach Hank Ilesic in the offseason and has returned a better kicker. Julian Tropea has worked hard to improve his punting. And freshman Jacob Scarfone has already shown he has the talent to push the vets.