Focus on defense – 2 links

DC MacNeill and John Rush chatting at recent practice Photo: Rob Massey/Guelph Mercury

DC MacNeill and John Rush chatting at recent practice
Photo: Rob Massey/Guelph Mercury

First off, former Gryphon QB Justin Dunk, now a writer and sideline reporter with Sportsnet, has written an article about the top defences in the CIS and, yes, he has Guelph in his top 5. He also writes that …

Guelph lost their defensive leader for the rest of the season when linebacker John Rush suffered an ACL tear in practice on September 26, but the collective depth of the Gryphons has helped the defence continue to stifle opposing offences despite Rush’s absence.

The Guelph Mercury has a story/interview with John Rush in yesterday’s paper. It contains more details on what actually happened and how Rush is dealing with it.

Rush, who is expecting to do six months of rehab and then wear a brace during games next year, has often been described as an onfield coach and now he’s helping his replacements by watching their every move during the practices at Alumni Stadium and in OUA football league play.

The Sportsnet story > Which CIS teams have a leg up on defence?

The Mercury piece > Learning off the Rush

*     *     *

John Rush has already missed two games and as Dunk suggested “the collective depth of the Gryphons” has allowed them to carry on even without their leader. That notion supports what I’ve written several times about this team having the best quality depth of any Gryphon squad since the late 1990s. We are very young at the linebacker position without Rush. Getting Vince Lonsdale back this past week after an extended illness will help. But the fact remains that this team lost a lot of talent and experience when Jake Reinhart, Jarryd Baines, Colin MacDonald and Curtis Rukavina all graduated in the off-season.

Ultimately, this defense is a unit and not about a single player. In fact, Guelph has the #1 defense in the OUA [#3 in the CIS] yet doesn’t have a single player among the country’s top 50 tacklers. It is a true case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

This is also a very good illustration of what I’ve been saying with respect to Guelph’s recruiting and depth of talent. John Rush was developing into one of the best linebackers in Canada and he will be missed BUT things will not fall apart without him because there are a lot of other talented defensive players who will step up. Rush will have surgery soon which should allow him to be ready to play in time for the 2014 season. Next year will be his CFL draft season. He was fortunate to be one of the rare few who was invited to play in the East-West bowl as a sophomore.

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