It was a little windy at times but the sun shone and made it a nice afternoon for football. The football we saw was about what I expected. Both in terms of the format and the results. I didn’t expect York to be a “formidable foe” particularly given some of their player losses.
Two weeks after their CFL Combine appearances TB Rob Farquharson and York’s DE James Tuck – were two of the standouts. They both looked like they were in mid-season form. Farquharson shook off tacklers like a dog does flees, frequently picking up 10 or 20 yards after initial contact. Mind you Johnny Augustine ran for some major yardage as well. One of his runs was in the range of 80 yards. The Gryphon RBs probably combined for a dozen runs of 20+ yards. With Rob Carnegie injured and since neither Mason Swift nor Bryson Dobush made the trip today, I think Brandon Gordon was the only other RB who saw action .
The O-Line was similarly short-handed with only seven players, all of them young. Sophomores Matt Toppan, Kyle Fraser and Cam Wilhelm were the “vets”. Tyler Case, Steve Mburanumwe, Daniel Urbshas, Patrick Gerrie and Tyler Iveson were the others. It adds up to lots of reps for young guys which is a major goal of spring practices. Clearly the O-Line had significant success today, much beyond what they see when practicing against their own D.
Guelph entered the practice with four QBs but Evan Murdza limped off with a rolled ankle (?) early on and didn’t return. Jazz Lindsey, Mack Blewett and Alec Reid shared the 7-on-7 and scrimmage reps. All of them had some success. Certainly, York is in a much more difficult position w.r.t. quarterbacks. Lots of dropped snaps, mishandled handoffs and real problems in the passing game. The Lions will be in tough on O unless they can quickly identify a top candidate or two and get them lots of reps before Labour Day.
The Lions aren’t as far along in their off-season practices and preparation and it showed. The Gryphon defense looked as good as you would expect given the amount of talent coming back. I haven’t seen the white board behind DC MacNeill’s desk lately but I’d be surprised if there won’t be 20+ players back from the 2-deep depth chart come September. So, even with some players sitting out Coach Mac can put an outstanding group of players on the field. If any unit stood out today it may have been the DBs. In 2014 they will still be a relatively young group but there is loads of talent there.
While York and Guelph are on different levels talent-wise and in terms of recent success, the joint practice/scrimmage meant lots of reps for lots of players against a team we won’t face next year. It should provide lots of film to watch which will help both teams. No score was kept. If teams and players learn and grow from it then both sides win. Bottomline, it was a good day from my perspective.
I’m looking forward to the next event, another combined practice. This one at Wilfrid Laurier on Saturday at 1 pm.