The Gryphons wrapped up their Winter/Spring practices with the combined practice/scrimmage Saturday. Every OUA team is allowed to hold 20 off-season practices. Guelph took full advantage of that. Not every team does. It’s demanding on the players and coaching staff, but exemptions are granted when necessary to players who need the extra time to do their academic work. Most of the off-season practices were held on Friday afternoons, generally in the Gryphon Fieldhouse. It offers a turf surface which is much preferable to holding a practice in a gymnasium and it’s right next door to the stadium, so easily accessible from the locker room.
Here is a quick video that mixes some shots from 2014 practices in the Gryphon Fieldhouse with some game footage from recent years. Another practice video can be found here.
The long, cold winter in Ontario messed up the plans of many OUA teams for outdoor spring camps and practices. Certainly, Guelph would have liked to have conducted a couple more outdoor practices. At least we have the Fieldhouse as an alternative. Some teams had to reschedule or cancel practices. There really couldn’t have been a better year for the Gryphons to hold their first Winter Camp in Florida.
The Gryphons got in six days of practice under ideal conditions. Since they were away during reading week there were no other distractions. The team was also able to hold team and unit meetings at the hotel and still have plenty of time for fun. One of the goals of holding Winter camp in Florida besides providing a week of optimal football practice was team-building. That may be a goal that is hard to measure, so check out this video from the trip and judge for yourself.
The Winter/Spring season culminated with the York and Laurier combined practices. Suffice it to say Guelph got a lot of work done in the off-season. The addition of the inter-squad sessions I think was a real bonus. Getting those extra reps in against players from other teams should have some real benefits. It should yield some valuable film that will be helpful for teaching and evaluation.
The fact that the final scrimmage wasn’t what you would hope for I think is a blessing in disguise. After back-to-back 7-1 seasons, and returning lots of talent, this Gryphon squad will have a target on their backs. The Gryphons won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this year. They will be favoured against almost every program they face in the OUA. The fact that at the conclusion of the scrimmage, Laurier players were carrying-on like they had just won a regular season game illustrates my point. Not getting blown out was obviously a big deal to them.
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ALUMNI SIGHTINGS AT ALUMNI:
A couple of Guelph coaches were absent Saturday. I know Bill Brown was in Toronto for Team Ontario tryouts. In his place John Casasanta looked after the special teams elements. Not sure where Brian Cluff was but it was nice to see recent grad Mike Millar directing the D-Line. Millar coached last season at his high school alma mater – Lakeshore Catholic. Another former DL alumnus, Steve O’Brien, now a regional recruiter for the Gryphons, was there with several prospects.
It was nice to see some older alumni come out to watch. Five players whose careers overlapped in the mid-eighties were there. Brian Campbell has a son, a receiver, who will be entering his fifth year with the Golden Hawks. Scott Campbell brought one of his sons, a linebacker in his early teens, with him to watch the scrimmage. Rival local high school coaches Frank Tersigni and Jeff Yanchus watched several of their former players out on the field. As always the indefatiguable Randy Dimitroff was there.
An older group of alumni, guys who played together in the late 60s and early 70s, also came out to watch. Bill Morrison, the 1970 Wildman winner and until recently a D-Line coach on Gary Jeffries WLU staff, was there with Dr. Al Robinson and Roger Hunter. It was great to meet Al, Roger, Brian and Scott for the first time and nice to see more former Gryphons taking an interest in the program.