As they generally do on Friday afternoons, the Gryphon football team practiced yesterday in the Gryphon Fieldhouse. I’m sure they would have liked to be outdoors but the Alumni Stadium turf was still snow-covered. The Guelph Mercury’s Rob Massey covered the practice and wrote almost exclusively about the battle at the quarterback position – Blewett grabs chance to be featured Gryphon quarterback.
Mack Blewett appears to have seized an opportunity that has come his way.
Blewett, who’ll be in his fifth and final year of eligibility in the fall, has moved to the top of the quarterback list on the Guelph Gryphons football team’s depth chart.
“Mack stepped up and he’s now No. 1 on the roster,” Gryphon head coach Stu Lang said. “(Offensive co-ordinator) Todd (Galloway) has been very open with Jazz about that and Jazz, if he wants to be the No. 1 quarterback, he has to earn it.”
The move came after Jazz Lindsey, starter the last two seasons, and five other unnamed Gryphs were sent home from the Reading Week training trip to Orlando for missing curfew on the very first night in Florida. They were put on an airplane for the flight home the following day and other team-imposed suspensions are expected this fall.
“I don’t want to minimize it, but it has been blown a little out of proportion,” Lang said. “All the players knew that if they broke a rule that we had, they would be sent home. Six players broke curfew and in talking with the coaching staff, we thought the flight home was appropriate so we sent six players home.
“Three of the guys were leaders. They might not have been in their last year, but we looked to them to make the right decisions and they didn’t.”
With Lindsey back in Ontario, the 6-foot-5 Blewett, who’s from Burlington, had to step in as the top quarterback at the camp.
* * *
Writing as the Winter Camp in Florida was just kicking off – Winter camp update-Feb 15/14 – I indicated that from my perspective the “position battles” to watch would be on offense, including quarterback. Even though Jazz Lindsey was the established #1 QB … “what I really wanted to know was that we’ve got a solid back-up”. And most important from my perspective … “someone who can really push him”. It was my opinion that Jazz, and the entire offense, would benefit from his being “pushed”.
I based that primarily on the recent example of Ohio State QB Braxton Miller. Leading up to and during this year’s Orange Bowl I heard time and again how the emergence of back-up QB Kenny Guiton as a capable starter in the Big Ten [4-0 while Miller was hurt] made all the difference in Miller’s performance for the subsequent year and a half. There was no QB controversy and Miller started every game upon his return from injury in 2012 but the “competition” focused his mind. He was more mature and more consistent from that time forward.
As I wrote, “I’m quite happy to go into fall camp with Jazz Lindsey as the starting QB” but I feel better about it if he has had to win the job rather than have had it “handed to him”. So the fact that Mackenzie Blewett gets a serious look at QB is a good thing in my opinion. Competition makes everyone better. With Blewett entering his fifth year and Jazz his fourth the battles further down on the QB depth chart will still be very important.
Hopefully we will see Evan Murdza and Alec Reid get snaps at QB in one or both of the combined practices with York and WLU. That is the nice part of having two such events, lots of opportunities for Guelph’s freshmen and scout team guys to get some action against another foe. In August’s training camp two more highly regarded QB recruits – James Roberts & Job Reinhart – will be added to the mix.
* * *
Getting back to the Mercury article, I read in there several references to exactly the type of competition I’m hoping for. And not just at the QB spot. While, as the article outlines, this competition may not have come about for the right reasons, it could turn out for the best.
“It’s an open competition right now,” Galloway said. “That’s what we’re doing at every spot. A’dre (Fraser), who started last year, James Ingram, who started last year – they’ve all been told their spot’s open for grabs. Jazz is in the same boat right now. He’s competing with Blewett for the main spot going into camp and we’ll take it day by day.”
“We feel great that Blewtt’s in competing with Jazz for a starting spot. It’s just going to make them both better,” Galloway said. “He’s got experience. He came from Saint Mary’s and he dressed there and played there.”
Despite taking the No. 1 reps at Friday’s workout at the Gryphon Fieldhouse, Blewett doesn’t figure the job is his, but does feel he’s in a battle with Lindsey to be the starter.
“We’re always pushing each other to make each other better,” Blewett said. “Nothing’s changed in that department. The only thing that’s changed is that I’ve gotten a few extra reps. But at the end of the day, Jazz and I are on the same team and we’re still pushing each other to make each other better. The extra competition is just making us all better. It’s great for the team.”
While the article does contain some background info on Blewett as it relates to his time at SMU it doesn’t mention that during the year he sat out , he was the starting QB for the CJFL’s Burlington Braves. Prior to St Mary’s he had an outstanding career at Burlington’s Nelson High School.