Tomorrow should be a beautiful day for a football game. Sunny, perhaps even a little on the warm side. I’ll definitely be leaving my black overalls at home. Season openers always have a certain amount of excitement even if the match-ups may not be the most competitive. And there is always the pre-game tailgate party with the Gryphon parents and alumni to look forward to! Kickoff is 1p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
The WLU Golden Hawks aren’t the team they were just a few years ago. They lost a serious amount of talent after the 2011 season and weren’t prepared to replace it. In my opinion, inadequate recruiting more than anything else was responsible for the offseason coaching change at Laurier. Solid coaching is important but good coaches can’t win without good talent. The game tomorrow will be Michael Faulds debut as a Head Coach.
But Gryphon fans ought not to forget that in spite of a talent disparity last year the Golden Hawks kept the game tight. You can read my post-game reports from 2012 here and here. But this time the Hawks won’t be playing in front of 7,500 of their own fans on Homecoming. SportsEh experts and pretty much everyone else is predicting a Guelph victory.
My Thoughts: I expect a Guelph victory and I would be surprised if it is particularly close. Even without All Star RB Rob Farquharson in the lineup the Gryphs will be able to move the ball against the Hawks. I just hope they do a better job than last year of turning offensive yardage into points. Rather than be worried, I’m excited to see some of our freshmen running backs play.
Our defense may have some growing pains as it incorporates many new faces but I don’t believe WLU has the offensive talent to do us much harm. This game is a safe way to give some new players experience that will help going forward.
I am looking for Gryphon special teams to be very good right out of the gate. HC Lang emphasizes them and it’s not just lip service. Guelph devotes a lot of practice time to special forces. Our Special Teams units have been among the best in the OUA in all three seasons since Bill Brown took over as Coordinator.
Laurier Previews: You can check out SportsEh’s preview of the Golden Hawks here. It should be noted that contrary to this report QB Travis Eman is not back with the Hawks and Julien John has been announced as the starter. And the team’s preview from the WLU Athletic Department can be found here.
The series since 2007: Laurier has had a clear advantage in regular season play going 5-1 since 2007. Several of those games have been close, others not. A 47-yard FG in the closing seconds of the 2008 season opener would have given Guelph the win but it was wide right. The teams have split two playoff games. Guelph’s lone win prior to the 22-19 victory last year was a win in the 2007 OUA semi-final that propelled the Gryphons to the Yates Cup. This is a great opportunity for Guelph to extend their new winning streak.
2012 – 22-19 Guelph
2011 – 15-10 WLU
2010 – WLU wins Q-final
2010 – 36-2 WLU
2009 – 21-14 WLU
2008 – 15-13 WLU
2007 – 38-31 Guelph wins OUA semi-final
2007 – 37-27 WLU
Internet streaming: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/guelph.portal#
On-line stats live: Likely but I don’t have a link. Try the CIS site