More thoughts on the Mac game

#20 Taylor Palmer & #50 Andrew Graham

#20 Taylor Palmer & #50 Andrew Graham      Photo Credit: gryphons.ca

PLAYERS OF THE GAME

Offense – Rob Farquharson
Defense – Taylor Palmer
Special Forces – Andrew Graham

I pretty much said it in my post-game story. Farquharson had the stats and the Player of the Game award so no surprise. Gryphons.ca had this to say: Playing in his first game of 2013 back from injury, the running back’s leadership, experience and tough inside running helped lift the Gryphons to a 24-22 win over the McMaster Marauders. Palmer is an excellent choice. He had perhaps a “career” game with 2 interceptions, 5 solo tackles and an assist. Palmer was also named the OUA’s defensive Player of the Week. Graham is the Special Forces choice for the second week in a row. I watched this redshirt freshman a little more closely this week and can say he earns all the honours he gets with a lot of hard work, passion and relentless energy. He tallied four solo tackles and three assists.

Scout Team Player of the Game – Daniel Horta

*     *     *

I have to admit I have smiled a bit as I have read and listened to McMaster fans make excuses and attribute blame in their post-game analysis. It’s not like we don’t all do it. It’s just nice to not be the one in that position. I think some Marauder fans are way off the mark with some of their criticisms of their own team, their QB and their coaches.

Here are some samples of rather ill-informed comments in my opinion:

It’s time to call out the coaches. This isn’t high school football.
You have to be able to make adjustments and that’s just not happening this season.

Eiben [Mac DC] needs to actually play his starting D instead of rotating people in and
giving up 2 TD’s with the better players on the sideline.

The coaches aren’t at fault in my opinion. Programs go through cycles and I doubt McMaster falls too far even in a down year. You know you are a top program if you can finish 5-3 and host a playoff game at the  bottom of your cycle. The funniest thing is several Marauder fans were even suggesting that QB Marshall Ferguson be replaced by one of their freshmen. That’s crazy. Ferguson is in a tough position replacing Kyle Quinlan. But he is a quality starting quarterback who is working behind a much less experienced O-Line and it shows.

McMaster’s offensive game plan seemed to reflect that, plus a lot of respect for the Gryphon front 7. Mac used about as tight of line splits [the space between OLs] as I remember seeing in an OUA game. That shows a lot of concern about being able to protect the passer while putting a damper on the success of the run game. Eighty percent of Mac’s passing was quick passing – i.e. throwing the ball within 3 seconds to avoid the pass rush. As a result Guelph only recorded 2 sacks but many times they were pressuring Ferguson as he threw the ball, delivering several big hits on him as he released it. That was a factor in several of the interceptions.

On the opposite side I was fairly pleased with Guelph’s pass protection in spite of giving up 4 sacks. McMaster was bringing a lot of people, 6 or 7 many times. Guelph only schemes to block a maximum of 6, so Mac often had a free blitzer. It is up to the QB to deal with the extra man and that usually means hitting a “relief valve” receiver. On at least one occasion the receiver ran a wrong route and Jazz Lindsey did the smart thing – taking a sack rather than making a bad throw. That is a sign of a maturing QB. It didn’t help that FB Daniel MacDonald wasn’t able to play because he is as sure a blocker as you will find in an OUA backfield.

With respect to the McMaster defense I have said all along that there will be growing pains when you have to replace a DC and implement a new scheme. If a Mac fan doesn’t understand why DC Eiben was substituting personnel in certain situations I don’t have time to explain it to him. But Kevin MacNeill is doing similar things with his Guelph D and they are obviously working.

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