Thoughts on the scrimmage in London

I thoroughly enjoyed the day. From the “pregame” tailgate to the drills and the scrimmage itself. The weather was hot and sunny but not hot enough to negatively impact the play. I arrived early to get in a little preseason practice of my own with the Guelph Parents-of-Players. The POP group had some impressive new accessories with custom-made table covers and a flag. It was nice to meet some new parents including those of several of the freshmen.

Gryphon fans tailgate outside UWO's TD Waterhouse Stadium

Gryphon fans tailgate outside UWO’s TD Waterhouse Stadium

In my opinion things turned out pretty well when you consider that practicing and scrimmaging with the Mustangs was making the best of a bad situation – i.e. a ridiculously short preseason that didn’t allow for a real exhibition game. My preferred choice, and I think Stu Lang’s as well, would have been a game in Quebec City with the Rouge et Or.

I believe that Western deserves to be the top ranked team heading into the OUA season. The Mustangs have a large and very deep roster. I heard someone say that they had 130 players and that included a mind-boggling 37 receivers. Believe me I didn’t try to count them all. So anyways, Western was a very worthy and challenging opponent.

*     *     *

Yesterday I wrote:

A controlled scrimmage won’t be as much fun for the fans as a real game but it will serve important purposes. It will get some young players some experience against a CIS foe. It will generate some film that can be studied both for teaching and correcting individuals. The film will also aid in evaluating players. The training camp phase of preseason practice is essentially over after today. So lots of decisions need to be made.

And,

Since this scrimmage is largely about evaluating players look for some of the established guys to be held out or see very little action. On that list I would expect to see Jazz Lindsey, Rob Farquharson, John Rush and a few other vets who really don’t need to prove anything. Hopefully that means we will be able to see lots of freshmen and redshirt freshmen in action. I am especially excited about watching the young RBs and the D-Line.

I think I got both of these things right. The goals I stated were accomplished. Coaches were talking about “looking at the film” before they even got on buses to go home. In many cases “young players” were getting more reps than the vets. If I’m not mistaken the only running backs to carry the ball were freshmen. [Mind you, 3rd yr receiver Keith Walker did have a nice carry on a jet sweep.] And the freshmen DBs saw lots of action. Jazz was only in for 5 of the 30 scrimmage plays. QBs Luke Nangle, Evan Murdza and Mac Blewett split the rest. Blewitt lined up at wideout on several plays while Murdza was at QB. LB John Rush and the #1 DBs only participating in 5 to 10 plays. Same too for OT Jake Piotrowski.

Players who were held out of the entire integrated practice/scrimmage included Rob Farquharson, Cam Walker, Matt Nesbitt, Zack Mallough, Cody O’Neill, Vlad Vesovic, Mike Ullerick and a couple of the top 2013 recruits. Some were held out for precautionary reason, others had minor ailments and one was sick. With both O’Neill and Nesbitt out Zachary Bader-Shamai received a baptism-by-fire against the tough Western d-line. In the pass pro and inside run drills he split reps with Daniel Urbschas.

If there were two players who raised their stock in my mind, they may have been RBs Johnny Augustine and Rob Carnegie. Both had some nice carries including rushes of 10+ yards. Augustine was a force blocking Mustang LBs in pass pro, and Carnegie was almost as solid. He certainly stood up to a 5th year LB who threw him to the ground in frustration. Carnegie stymied the vet again on the very next rep.

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