♦ This is just the second weekend in the last eleven when there hasn’t been a Gryphon football game to go to. I know I, and several others I’ve talked to, were experiencing withdrawal symptoms today. In a perfect situation we will have four more Gryphon games to attend. That would mean this season would end up back where it started – i.e. in Montreal. On August 24 the Gryphons played an exciting exhibition game against the Montreal Carabins. The 2014 CIS Football season ends with the Vanier Cup at Montreal’s Molson Stadium. While it’s fun for fans to think ahead I certainly hope Gryphon coaches and players aren’t doing the same. We’re at the point where “if you lose, you go home”. Lots of hard work against good teams remains.
♦ Speaking of the Montreal Carabins, they accomplished the difficult task of beating the Laval Rouge-et-Or today by a score of 13-9. The two teams split their season series and finished tied atop the RSEQ league, but Laval wins home field advantage in the playoffs based on point differential in their head-to-head games. The task for the Carabins of winning on the road, in the playoffs, at Laval is nearly impossible. The Rouge-et-Or currently have a 69-game home winning streak.
♦ Getting back to “taking it one game at a time” … we MUST win the Yates Cup Semi-Final against Western in order to even have a second playoff game. I certainly hope that we’ll have a large and loud crowd of Gryphon fans at Alumni Stadium on Nov. 8. It sounds like we could have some decent weather for the game. I’m encouraged that the Athletic Department and the Alumni Affairs office are working together to try to bring out UG alumni to the game with a special offer of tickets combined with a hot, pre-game breakfast at Gryph’s Sports Lounge. It’s a good deal and I’d take advantage of it if I weren’t already committed to attending the pre-game social event [a.k.a. tailgate party] in Parking Lot 7.
♦ On the football side, a post-season bye week has multiple benefits. After eight games every team is going to have some injured and banged up players so the rest helps. Without knowing who your next opponent is, it almost forces a team to do work on its own issues, individual skills and unit work. Coaches are able to get out to do more recruiting, even to get up to Sudbury as Brian Cluff did this week. [Note the Big Nickel in photo below.]
♦ I did receive a text message yesterday from a high school coach telling me of the commitment of a prized recruit to the University of Guelph. The commitment came from an outstanding student-athlete at a high priority position. Besides strong academics this young man has performed at a high level – i.e. Team Ontario, OVFL All Star, etc.. I look forward to sharing the news, hopefully in the not too distant future.
♦ One player who has put it all together this season is K/P Daniel Ferraro. In the preseason all I asked for was more consistency from our kicking game. Ferraro has been that and taken his play up a notch. Or two. It is very interesting to read what Ferraro says has made the difference for him in this Mercury story – Extra work pauing off for Gryphons kicker Ferraro. Just a couple of the best quotes …
“The reason was that I knew I had to get better for this to be a championship team,” he said. “Special teams is a big part of the game and I needed to hold up my end of the bargain, so I knew I needed to work hard to help this team. Whatever happens at the CFL will happen later.”
“Any time you don’t win a championship, you know you need to work harder,” he said. “Every single guy on that team last year who was back this year knew he had to work harder. It didn’t matter how good they were. I think everyone on this team put in the work in the off-season and that’s why we’re playing at the level we’re playing at.”
♦ I thought about it during the game a week ago but I didn’t remember to comment on it in either of my posts about the Laurier game. Rob Farquharson‘s 75-yard touchdown run was by far the longest of his career. He has scored numerous times from the 30- to 39-yard range. But, at least from what I remember, all of his longer TD runs over the past two years have been called back on penalties. I think it even happened twice in one game at Carleton. It will be interesting to see how Western changes up their defensive game plan this week. Can they really afford to “sell out” to stop the run again? I don’t think so. Worth remembering, Farquharson rushed for 134 yards against UWO, better than 6 yards per carry, in the matchup prior to this recent one.
♦ And, another forgotten thought, I’ve often said I want to see Jazz Lindsey run with the ball several times per game with the goal of picking up at least 50 yards per game. In fact, I’ve said it enough times that I thought I should have pointed out I had no problem with him not running against Western. I think of Guelph’s as a balanced offense. We can run or pass successfully “depending on what the defense gives us”. The conventional wisdom was that Guelph’s offense could be stopped if a team could shutdown our running game and force Jazz to beat them by throwing the ball. His 514 passing yards and 4 TDs against Western blew that notion up. This is a personal bias on my part, and I’ll take a big win any way I can get it, but I’d rather watch our offense when it’s balanced, than when we’re throwing it 70% of the time. I love the read option and play action aspect of the offense. The slick ball-handling, the misdirection and running a draw play to Farquharson on passing down. In some ways I actually appreciated the way our offense worked against Ottawa and Queen’s more than what we were forced to do against Western.
♦ Sticking with the offense, the decision to gamble on 3rd & 1 on our own 34 when we had the wind may have seemed risky (or foolhardy) but the play-call was solid. If Farquharson doesn’t lose control of the ball he has a sizeable hole and potentially very big yardage. See the play at the 4:10 mark of the highlights below. At the 1:45 mark I also see one of the mistakes that hindered our offense in the 2nd half. But these are the growing pains you have to live with in order for your young players to get some game experience. Anyways, losing yardage on first down is a drive killer when you want to pick up 1st downs and run the clock which we very much needed to do in the 2nd Half.