The rematch that everyone has been expecting and waiting for has become a reality. There were other possible outcomes that could have resulted after last week’s OUA quarter-finals but this is the one most people were expecting. The Mustang’s quarter-final win had an impact beyond sending Western back to Guelph as the Mustangs sustained several more injuries.
Victory in the game three weeks ago assured the Gryphons of the bye week, gave them home field advantage and forced the Mustangs to play the extra q-final game. Now Guelph is rested, relatively healthy, had an extra week to prepare and will play on the turf where they have a 14-game home winning streak. For most people that adds up to the Gryphons being favoured. But in OUA.ca’s Semi-final Preview Stu Lang isn’t buying into that type of thinking …
“We’re facing a team that’s won 30 Yates Cups and we’ve only won three. Greg Marshall himself has been personally responsible for 18, so we know we have a battle ahead of us and don’t consider ourselves the favourite in any way,” said Gryphons coach Stu Lang. “It’s also very difficult to beat a team twice in one season, so we have a huge job in front of us on Saturday.”
The Gryphons enjoyed a well-deserved week off. Stu Lang‘s club is on a seven-game winning streak and there’s no sign it can’t maintain that momentum despite last week’s bye. Very few players are completely healthy at this stage of the season, so the week of rest far outweighs any benefit from getting another win under their belts.
There is another reason to assume this team will be ready: its intensity. Guelph plays hard for 60 minutes every week and if Western shows any let up during the game, the Gryphons will be there to make them pay; and that’s true on both sides of the football.
My Take: I feel confident of a Gryphon win but I’m still a little nervous. Western had the most talented roster in the OUA heading into the season. Remember, they were the clear-cut preseason favourite to win the Yates. Even with injuries they still have a lot of weapons and a solid group of experienced linemen. I expect them to be a tough opponent who could be scary if they come out with the fight of a wounded animal.
But I know this Gryphon team IS prepared and they do have the intensity that Hogan refers to. The Gryphons from the head coach on down are focused. A first-place finish [tied with Mac], a bye and hosting the semi are the product of a lot of hard work. Guelph didn’t get to this point by accident and it won’t be an accident if they continue to win.
I certainly do expect a different type of game this time – more defensive and lower scoring. I see the points scored being more like 70 than the 95 last time. Guelph will produce more rushing yards and Western less. The key to defeating Western will be limiting their running game and forcing their backup QB to pass.
Recent Series History:
Guelph has had competitive games with Western in recent years but that didn’t always add up to victories. But with their win three weeks ago the Gryphons now have a modest two-game winning streak. The previous two regular season wins – 2007 & 2012 – were coincidentally the last two seasons the Gryphons played in the Yates Cup. Will 2014 follow that pattern? Guelph has lost their two most recent playoff games to Western Ontario but those were the 2007 Yates Cup & a 2009 quarter-final. A lot of things have changed since then.
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