Gryphons defeat Carleton on Friday night

Photo: Lou Toppan

#56 Kyle Fraser & #62 Andrew Pickett opening a hole for a successful draw play Photos: Lou Toppan

The Gryphons handled the much improved Carleton Ravens fairly easily last night in a 44-24 win. For more of the game story you can read gryphons.ca’s report here or this story in the Mercury – Gryphons shade Carleton under Alumni Stadium lights.

From my perspective, I would call it a good performance but not a great one. The score could easily have been much more than the final 20-point differential. It was nice to see the much improved performance of the Gryphon offense from a week earlier – 73 plays run, 30 first downs and 542 yards of total offense. Those numbers compare with 52 plays, 13 first downs and 271 yards in Windsor. The offense was perfect in the turnover category – 0 fumbles, 0 INTs.

The Gryphon defense gave up too many big pass plays – plays of 35, 44 & 56 yards. These were deep passes of the “long bomb” variety, not short or medium passes turned into big gains. Eliminate those plays and the Ravens passing numbers would have been rather slim. Even though the Ravens’ talented little RB sometimes gained more yards than I thought he should, holding the Ravens to just 99 rushing yards still looks good. The D produced just one turnover, an interception by Mikey Carney.  The other turnover forced by the Gryphons was on special teams. DBs Iain Hutchison and Tristan Doughlin must have been kicking themselves after they each dropped possible interceptions deep in Carleton territory. Hutchison did lead the team with 9 solo tackles. John Rush had 7, while Royce Metchie and Curtis Newton had 5 apiece. It’s interesting to see in the game stats that the scorer didn’t split a single tackle. In total, there were 117 solo tackles in the game, zero assisted tackles. I don’t recall ever seeing that before.

Special Forces Coach Bill Brown had to be happy with the performance of all his units. Daniel Ferraro and Ryan Nieuwesteeg are already multi-time players of the week and they’re continuing to perform at that level. Ferraro had his best game as a Gryphon. He was 5 for 5 on FGs, including three over 40 yards. He averaged 43.7 yards per punt, earning a rouge on one, executed all the various types of kickoffs and was a perfect 4 for 4 on converts. You can’t ask for any more than that.

Daniel Ferraro hitting on of his 5 FGs Photo: Lou Toppan

Daniel Ferraro hitting on of his 5 FGs
Photo: Lou Toppan

Statistically Nieuwesteeg had his bigger impact returning kickoffs – 4 KO returns for 132 yards with a long of 48 and a 33-yd average return. No doubt in my mind that Carleton didn’t feel they could contain Nieuwesteeg as a punt returner under normal circumstances. Their strategy seemed to be to deliberately punt short. On a night with perfect conditions, when Guelph averaged almost 44 yards per punt, Carleton averaged 32.7. They were willing to give up 5 to 10 yards of punting distance for fear of Nieuwesteeg breaking big yardage returns. As a result Nieuwesteeg was already surrounded almost every time he fielded a punt. Three times the Ravens held him to zero or negative return yardage but  three other times he still managed to elude tacklers for gains of 12, 12 & 17 yards. Meanwhile our punt coverage unit limited Carleton to an average return of 6 yards and produced a turnover.

To put it all together, on an average exchange …
– Guelph punts for 43.7 yards and Carleton returns it for 6 yards, net difference of 37.7 yards.
– Carleton punts for 32.7 yards and Guelph returns it for 5.7 yards, net difference of 27 yards.

For Guelph to gain 10.7 yards per exchange and produce a turnover as well, is phenomenal. Add to everything above, two first downs gained on successful fake punts. First, in the 2nd Q on a 3rd & 3, a 7-yard run by Mikey Carney. Then, with a 3rd & 10 on the first series of the 4th Q, a Mikey Carney pass to Jacob Scarfone for 13 yards and a first down. In both cases these extended drives produced scores, a TD and a FG. It was an all-round outstanding performance by Guelph special teams.

*      *      *

Back to the offence … you know I’m going to be happy when Jazz Lindsey runs the ball for at least 50 yards, so, yes, his 6 rushes for 56 yards and a TD were music to my ears. Those sitting near me will verify that with Guelph gambling on a 3rd & 1 on the Carleton 40, I called for a QB keeper. Fortunately, OC Todd Galloway was of thinking the same way and Jazz scampered for a 32-yard gain around the end, very reminiscent of his 36-yard TD vs Ottawa.

Most of the rest of the rushing yardage came from a committee of running backs. With Rob Farquharson nursing some injuries and being rested this week. Starting in his place, Johnny Augustine rushed 8 times for 58 yards but he left the game with an injury in the 2nd Q. The slack was picked up by redshirt freshman Brandon Gordon [10 carries for 50 yards] and true freshman Daniel Palmer-Salmon [6 carries for 65 yards]. For Palmer-Salmon it was his first-ever appearance in a CIS game. Mason Swift also had 4 carries highlighted by a 1-yd goal line plunge for a touchdown.

Lucas Spagnuolo

Lucas Spagnuolo out for a run

From what I’ve seen, in games when Jazz runs with the ball he also passes well. Friday night was no exception. Jazz completed 20 of 33 for 291 yards and a TD. His favourite receivers continued to be Alex Charette [7 for 94 yds] and A’dre Fraser [5 for 50 yds]. But he also got the ball to James Ingram 4 times for 44 yards and hit Lucas Spagnuolo twice in the open field allowing him to pick up some serious yards after the catch. TE Patrick Gerrie and WR Dylan Husty caught passes for 13 and 11 yards.

And while the Carleton D-Line did get more penetration than I would like I still thought our O-Line had a good game. Time and again they opened up some sizeable holes that led to 251 net rushing yards. Other than a single sack of 11 yards where Jazz actually spun out of the grasp of a Raven, and would have escaped clean if he could have kept his balance, he generally had plenty of time to pass. Fortunately, the starting five of Kyle Fraser, Cam Wilhelm, Matt Nesbitt, Zach Bader-Shamai & Matt Toppan has had lots of continuity this season due to solid play and few injuries. Also appearing in the game were freshmen Andrew Pickett at RG and Arran MacRae at LT.

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