Day 4 training camp report

John Rush coordinates the defense in Day 4 practice Photo: Ron Massey

John Rush coordinates the defense in Day 4 practice
Photo: Ron Massey/Mercury

♦ Two more articles from the Mercury:

First off, Rob Massey talks to LB John Rush – He’s in a rush to start – who missed six games last year [4 reg season, 2 playoff] not just three as suggested in the article.

The fourth day of the University of Guelph Gryphons’ football training camp was the first day Rush stayed on the field the entire four hours. The previous three days the team decided not to rush it and told him to watch the final half of each session from the sidelines.

“I’m pretty much at exactly where I want to be — at 100 per cent and ready to go,” Rush said.

Guelph very much needs Rush to be healthy if they are going to be as successful as possible in 2014. Our defense did an admirable job last year while Rush was out but we’ve really lost something when the two-time Team Canada captain isn’t on the field.

♦ The other article is on the Ferraro brothers – Daniel & Gabriel. They are competing for the kicking and punting duties – Kicking game is a Ferraro family affair this year. Jacob Scarfone who backed up Daniel Ferraro last season and made some big plays as a non-kicker on special teams, is competing for a position in the receiving corps this year.

Last year, Daniel hit 10 of 16 field goal attempts and hit all 26 converts he attempted. He also averaged over 35 yards per punt and almost 56 yards per kickoff. He scored 25 more points last year than he had in his second year and five more than he had in his rookie season.

“At the end of every year you’ll look back and want to have done better, regardless of how you did,” he said. “This year, this is my draft year — this needs to be the best year that I’ve had. It definitely will be with the help of (kicking) coach (Hank) Illesic and having my brother here is a big help. I’m just looking to have the best year I’ve had as a Gryphon, win a championship and everything will come after that.”

If we can get just a little more consistency out of the kicking game I will be happy. Daniel Ferraro has been perfect when the game is on the line [think winning FG vs Windsor]. So if he, or Gabriel, can just hit a few more of the makeable FGs and eliminate a few shanked punts things will be very good from my perspective. I’m looking for more like 12 or 13 field goals made on 16 attempts in 2014.

Gabriel watches brother Daniel punt Photo: Rob Massey/Mercury

Gabriel watches brother Daniel punt
Photo: Rob Massey/Mercury

♦ I didn’t make it to practice yesterday, but did I talk to one observer who was actually there. It’s interesting that many of his observations were very similar to mine when it comes to the style and tempo of practice. He thought the D looks very strong and really liked the depth we have in the defensive backfield. He was very impressed with freshman LB Luke Korol. He also said the QBs were really throwing the ball well.

♦ I really don’t have an opinion on the practice format – i.e. 4-hour “power” practice vs two-a-days. It sounds like the coaches are trying to install more new “stuff” than I would normally expect on a team that is entering it’s fourth season with the same coordinators, though that may be part of the reason for changing things up. It is easier for a coach to keep things the same than to teach and implement new plays/systems. Easier on our opponents also.

♦ Casual observers probably don’t realize how much time at training camp is spent in the classroom, meetings and watching film. Having a single power practice may make it easier to do these off field things but it only gives you one chance a day to work on implementing new plays and schemes. You don’t get a second shot at it six hours later. And you need to implement twice as much in that single practice. I’m sure the process and schedule will evolve over time. In reality it already has been

♦ Having six 4-hour practices might mean some players are a little tired heading into the pre-season game in Montreal on Day 7. But no one is going to have to play more than a half. Guelph will be dressing 73 players for the game, all of whom should see some action. I hope to put a little preview together of the Montreal Carabins. If you don’t see it in the next 24 hours it probably isn’t happening because I don’t communicate very well “mobilely”.

♦ An observation someone shared with me … “John Rush looks skinnier than he was before”. My response … “appearances can be deceiving”. Rush came to Guelph three years ago ar 210 pounds. He is now 225. But he has lost the “baby fat” he used to have and is much more “cut”. I think this will be a big year for Rush. If he continues on the path he was on over his first three seasons, he is a potential All Canadian with serious interest from CFL teams heading into his draft year.

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