♦ This morning the temperature in Orlando, FL is 14° C. The afternoon is supposed to be sunny with the temperature reaching 19° C. If the Weather Network’s forecast is correct the entire week should be beautiful with sunshine and temps rising each day until they hit 27° on Thursday. They don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing. Sounds like an ideal week for football practices.
♦ According to the schedule I saw the Gryphons hit the field for their first Florida practice this morning at 10:30.
♦ The Gryphon contingent in Florida is 100 strong – 80 players & 20 coaches and support staff. That group boarded two highway coaches at Alumni Stadium and started their trip to Orlando, FL at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
♦ For the Gryphons this is their first-ever Winter Football Camp in Florida. The super successful Laval Rouge et Or football program has been doing this for years. Guelph becomes only the second CIS team to ever do this. Even though Laval now has an indoor practice facility they still make the annual trek to Florida because of the unique team bonding opportunity it presents.
♦ While it hopefully proves extremely valuable it isn’t something that Guelph can afford to do every year. Tentatively the next Florida camp isn’t planned until 2018. Each Gryphon player was attempting to raise $250 to offset some of the costs. It is not too late to support the team or an individual player. Click here to contribute.
♦ It amazes and disappoints me that one of our competitors has made this Florida trip part of a campaign to limit the progress of OUA football programs seeking to compete at the highest levels in CIS football. It’s particularly galling that this “bomb” comes from a football program that has outspent us and mostly dominated us on the field for the past 15 years. I’ve never had so much instant feedback [phone calls, text messages, emails] as when I shared this Open Letter … to Football Supporters. Believe me I will have plenty more to say about it in a future post on this blog.
♦ Back to winter practice … some things I’d like to see coming out of this week. Lots of teaching and lots of reps for young guys and scout team players. I hope we’re not in the position of having to count on many freshmen playing this fall. I would love to hear that some of 2012 & 2013 recruits who haven’t dressed/played much to date are earning accolades for the gains they’ve made and the hard work they’ve put in.
♦ Most of my “positions battles” to watch would be on offense. I’m quite happy to go into fall camp with Jazz Lindsey as the starting QB. What I really want to know is that we’ve got a solid back-up. Someone who can really push him. I don’t know enough about the progress that Evan Murdza and Alec Reid have made to be able to form an opinion. Also, does SMU transfer Mac Blewett get a serious look at QB? I hope so. Even if he continues to dress as a receiver it would be nice to know that we had a third QB who could step in in an emergency — like that 2010 play-off game at Laurier.
♦ Receiver is also another critical position as four productive players won’t be returning. I think we lose seven years of starting experience just with the losses of Saxon Lindsey and Dillon Dimitroff. Carl Trivieri didn’t match their overall numbers but he made some HUGE plays the past two years. Keith Walker was a multi-year contributor as well. We still have some experienced guys in James Ingram, Alex Charette and A’dre Fraser. But who among Jordan Boutilier, Dylan Husty, Colin Booth, Johnny Franklin, Martin Popiel, Andrew Wilhelm, Curtis D’Hollander and Mark Horta steps up. Two of the players I’m most excited to see in 2014 are Mike Ullerick [hopefully 100% healthy] and UBC transfer Lucas Spagnuolo. Where do they fit in? Lots of receivers will likely have to switch positions or at least learn new ones. Which of these players embrace the opportunities and serve notice that they can’t be kept out of the lineup?
♦ The field Guelph is using is natural grass. Obviously in fine condition. The field operator lined the field using Canadian dimensions – 55-yard line and all!