Gryphons beat V-Blues 50-18

Photos by Lou Toppan

Photos by Lou Toppan

A strong 2nd half showing provided for a decisive victory in a game that still wasn’t what I was hoping for. In fact, for most of the first three quarters it felt a lot like the McMaster game. At many points the score was closer than what it should have been, leading to the uneasy feeling that it wouldn’t take much for things to go wrong. As on Labour Day the wind was a factor. Guelph had the wind in 1st & 4th Qs when they outscored the Varsity Blues 7-2 & 26-0. Other than the safety conceded by the Gryphons, UofT did all of its scoring with the wind – 10 points in the 2nd & 6 points in the 3rd Q.

♦ As I wrote Friday, UofT has given the Gryphons some surprisingly competitive games in the past four years. That was true for almost 3 quarters yesterday. This version of the Varsity Blues didn’t look a whole lot different from the teams of the recent past in spite of having new offensive and defensive coordinators. The V-Blues have some quality athletes but just not in the numbers that the OUA’s better teams do. It was nice to see that Toronto native and former Gryphon DL recruit Ryan Searle [OL #63] saw some action for the V-Blues. Searle was with the Gryphons in 2012 & 2013.

#19 Ryan Nieuwesteeg returns punt 62 yards for a TD Photo: Lou Toppan

#19 Ryan Nieuwesteeg returns punt 62 yards for a TD
Photo: Lou Toppan

♦ If there was a game-changing play it was Ryan Nieuwesteeg‘s 62-yard punt return TD late in the 3rd Q. Nieuwesteeg also had punt returns of 48 and 38 yards, and a kickoff return of 52 yards. That was a huge contribution on a day that two-time All Star returner A’dre Fraser didn’t dress. I’ll be shocked if Nieuwesteeg isn’t Special Forces Player of the Game. That said, Daniel Ferraro had another very good game punting and kicking. He is giving the Gryphons the consistency I was hoping for in my season preview. He punted 8 times for 328 yards, an average 41.0 yds. The Gryphons return units looked much better prepared than in Week 1. The coverage units did an excellent job of containing UofT’s All Canadian returner Kevin Bradfield.

RB Johnny Augustine

RB Johnny Augustine

♦ Besides Fraser sitting out, the Gryphons were without RBs Rob Farquharson and Mason Swift. Both should be available this week against Ottawa. One player who won’t likely see action is Safety Tristan Doughlin as he appeared to sustain a serious arm injury in the 3rd Q. The good news is freshman Royce Metchie was able to fill in for him. Metchie started in the Montreal game two weeks ago but was on crutches after that game with an apparent ankle sprain. In the absence of Farquharson, Johnny Augustine carried the bulk of the load rushing for 100 yards on 20 carries. Rob Carnegie and Brandon Gordon also contributed with 20 & 28 yards on two carries apiece.

♦ My concern with the running game is primarily short yardage and goal-line situations where we still haven’t shown the ability to pick up the tough yards necessary to convert on a 3rd & 1 or inside the five. It was a baffling problem last season as well, when we couldn’t repeat the success of 2012 in that regard. Versus UofT we were successful inside the five by passing the ball instead of running it. BTW, I completely agreed with the decision to go for 2-point converts after a pair of 4th Q TDs. What better way to work on your red zone efficiency than with a do-or-die play from the 3-yard line.

♦ When it comes to passing the ball our numbers were good but not great – 24 of 38 for 229 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT. A 63% completion percentage is good, as is the 5:1 TD/INT ratio  but to produce only 229 yards through the air against UofT is a concern on a day when we only had 148 net rushing yards. The absence of deep threat A’dre Fraser certainly hurt. One positive – 5 receivers had multiple catches – Lucas Spagnuolo (6), Alex Charette (8), Jacob Scarfone (4), James Ingram (2) and Colin Booth (2). I’m particularly happy to see Spagnuolo’s numbers (6 for 74 yards, 1 TD) since the UBC transfer is a converted QB who had a successful freshman season with the T-Birds running the ball from the slot position but had only 3 receptions in CanWest play if I’m not mistaken.

♦ It was pretty obvious in spite of a decent stat line (10 of 14 for 108 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) that QB Jazz Lindsey wasn’t 100%. Jazz entered the game with a strained shoulder and it showed as he underthrew several passes including a couple of his completions. Gryphon coaches planned to give freshman James Roberts some playing time in the game but Jazz’s shoulder problem forced it to happen before it was planned. Roberts entered the game late in the first half after an Andrew Graham interception gave Guelph the ball on the UofT 18. Roberts completed his first regular season CIS pass for a 7-yd TD to Charette. He had an excellent debut outing going 12 of 20 for 125 yards, 3 TDs & 1 INT. As he has been in every game I have seen him play, Roberts was extremely poised. Watching him you would never think he hadn’t done it all before. I’ve got to think that Gryphon coaches won’t be hesitant to use Roberts in the future.

Freshman QB James Roberts vs UofT

Freshman QB James Roberts vs UofT

♦ While I admit I wasn’t watching the D-Line as closely this game as in the Mac game I definitely saw more different fronts. Players in the front 7 looked more comfortable with what they were doing than on Labour Day. The 3-4 may still have been the most common but there was some 4-3. Maybe after next week we will have a better idea of what DC MacNeill has planned. Or maybe not. Some of it is likely related to the personnel available. DE Blake McNeely should be available again for the Ottawa [or Queen’s] game. In the meantime if there has been one surprise to me it has been the effectiveness and playing time of freshman DE Charlie Taggart. Also, nice to see former D-10 MVP Reza Shayani earning some playing time. I definitely witnessed veteran transfer Djordje Gavrilovic showing some leadership on the defense. It would appear Guelph got more than just a “big body” with the former UW Warrior.


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4 Responses to Gryphons beat V-Blues 50-18

  1. Mark A says:

    Having watched the game, there is still some areas of concern…the biggest is not scoring much until the end of the third qtr against a worn down Opponent with good starters, but a lack of depth.

    Ryan Nieuwesteeg and the rest of the Special Forces unit should be credited for bailing out the gryphon’s season IMHO. I am glad that the returning game was shored up. he hits the hole hard and with a purpose, and I hope amidst the return of some players who returned there previously, he stays there. The thing I love is that he is a third year kid, who did not get much playing time in year 1 and 2, who still busts his you know what and now performs at this level. Nothing was given and everything is earned and now the rewards are reaped. I hope some of the other players in the locker room take notice. He plays and carries himself like a true gryphon.

    I also loved the composure of rookie quarterback James Roberts. His body language indicated to me that he belongs not only in the CIS, but as a starting QB. he to me looks like the best long term option and it reminds me a lot of 2005 when we made the change to go with a younger Rookie by the name of Justin Dunk (we all know how that turned out). Will James take some lumps? Yes, the gee gees are no slouch (nor any team is in the CIS), but he gives this team the best chance to win and in this business, it is about winning games, I don’t think this opportunity should be squandered, especially with some key 5th and 4th year vets who may not play another season.

    My concern as you said is the oline. Yes, Augustine ran for 100, but it looked like a challenging 100, and in short yardage, there was no push now for a second week in a row…we scored TDs this time in the red zone, but I still would like to see some more aoffensive creativity here, especially with all the talent that was brought in….such as, why can’t Farquharson and Augustine be on the field at the same time?
    We have never performed well in Ottawa….ever, I hope there is a way to buck this trend, if not, the road will become bumpier.

    • Part of the issue with scoring was the wind. In the first two weeks it has affected many other OUA teams. Windsor, for example, has scored 67 points with the wind, only 2 points against it.

      I think the O-Line & D-Line will both improve Farquharson, Augustine and Swift were all on the field together against Mac. Hopefully, we’ll see production from all three in Ottawa.

      • Lisa says:

        I have been at the 2 games and at the practices and I am not an expert by all means but based on my observations and part of the problem is the willingness to get creative and try something different. At the end of the day it is about winning some games and sometimes if something is not working try out something different. Augustine is a great running back and he didn’t get much action against McMaster. Rob Farquharson was having a bit of trouble against McMaster and at that point Augustine or Swift should’ve stepped in but in never happened. Last year was a great year but this year they are facing a bit of a challenge, especially since some of the key players have moved on. I have seen a lot of talent at practices, new and old but the problem is they still have yet to get play time and to be part of the action. It seems they solely rely on Augustine, Farquharson and Swift to carry the weight for the RBs. What happened to the 2nd or 3rd strings? It would be nice to see more of Carnegie and Gordon in action. Varsity Blues game was perfect to showcase some of the talents and Nieuwesteg and Roberts did an excellent job doing just that. If they want a different result in Ottawa this weekend they need mix it up a little and really get creative with their players.

    • Lisa says:

      There’s a lot of talent on the oline but you can’t put it all on Farquharson and Augustine. You have Mason Swift and Number 28 among others. That kid is quite fast. If you want better results, the coaching staff need to start mixing it up. I did a little research on that kid #28 and he seems like he’s quite capable of handling the job. I was disappointed to see that they didn’t use him on the second half of the game. The Varsity Blues had Augustine’s number and they shut him down cold. Too bad the gryphons used the same players throughout the game, especially when it wasn’t working. Some of these kids were scouted for a reason and i am pretty sure after watching on the sideline they can put on a show and give results. Bottom line, if the Gryphons want to win, they need to start mixing up some of kids from the oline. The gryphons need to showcase the talents they have and what better way to do it by putting them on the field and see how they (players) hold their own. Try Augustine, Swift, and #28 at the same time. Sure, you want creativity but if opportunity is not given to other players, especially the oline, you’ll be a one dimension team.

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