- That was one heck of a hot afternoon for a football game. I spent the 1st Quarter in the stands but shifted to the tented [i.e. shady] VIP area for the 2nd Q. The crowd on the Hill was mostly students but it looked like they were sweltering over there. The crowd looked much larger than the 3,000 figure in the Box Score. My guestimate was 5,000.
- While there were still seats in the Stadium, Security was diverting fans to the Hill throughout the 1st Half. There were lots of late arriving fans because of the long lines at the most popular gates at Powerhouse Lane & College Ave E. and Powerhouse Lane & Alumni Walk. Fans should keep in mind that entering at one of the gates on the East side off East Ring Rd and walking around can actually be faster when the lines backup.
Some folks came to Alumni Stadium in style. Alumnus Ian MacQueen and his family hosted a pre-game party for 90 folks. They had a bagpiper pipe their group to the stadium. I saw them coming down College Ave from the West. It was impressive and caught the attention of the Guelph Mercury.
Now on to the game itself:
- In spite of starting slow I was fairly satisfied at half time with the way the game was going. The 20-3 lead seemed satisfactory, in part because it looked like the Gryphons had gained momentum and the Laurier defense was starting to wear down. I really thought Guelph was in a good position to steamroll the Hawks in the 2nd Half.
- Right from the game’s outset, I loved the job that the Gryphon D did to shut down the G-Hawks rushing game. They held WLU to just 69 net rushing yards. That included holding the reigning OUA MVP and CIS Rushing Champion Dillon Campbell to just 67 yards on the ground. It was the first time since early last season that Campbell had been held below 100 yards in a game. Other than a 16-yd gain out of the Wildcat, Campbell’s 1st Half rushes were for 2, 2, 4, 1, 4, -5, 7 & 5 yards. That’s just 20 net yards.
- Meanwhile Gryphon tailback Johnny Augustine picked up 71 yards on 13 rushes in the 1st Half. He did not return in the 2nd Half or he surely would have had another 100+ yard game. Augustine’s absence was injury related but more preventative than serious. Brandon Gordon and Daniel Salmon-Palmer are looking like they belong in the OUA as ball carriers.
- A’dre Fraser and Jacob Scarfone continue to stand out as receivers. I think from a stats and depth point of view, it would be nice to see more receivers having multi-catch games and making big plays. It would be nice to think that veterans like Ingram, Spagnuolo, Husty, Booth and TE Gerrie can have big games if teams concentrate on shutting down Fraser and/or Scarfone.
- Two turnovers by the Gryphons were particularly costly. In the 2nd Q, after a 14-yard gain A’dre Fraser was stripped of the ball at the Laurier 4-yd line. To start the 3rd Q, an unforced fumble in the backfield gave Laurier the ball at Guelph’s 31. Without the first turnover the Gryphons may have led 27-3 at the half. The second was even more costly because the Golden Hawks who had been thoroughly unproductive on offense up until that point, gained some confidence after scoring with a short field.
- From that point forward the Laurier offense did a much better job of moving and controlling the ball. While the Guelph D continued to eliminate the effectiveness of the G-Hawk rushing game, they were nickle-and-dimed in the second half by the short passing game. Laurier also adapted by using Campbell effectively as a receiver. His 104 yards on 7 receptions was tops for the Hawks. Combine Laurier’s ability to maintain possession and the Guelph offense’s sudden difficulties sustaining drives [Our 3rd Q TD was a one play drive.] and the Gryphon defense was left out on the field far too long, on a very hot day, in all-black uniforms.
- I’ve re-watched the game via OUA.tv On Demand. At one point colour commentator Sean Moynihan notes that … Thus far, James Roberts … just not in a good rythym right now. A couple of passes behind, a couple short. I really look for him to [get better]. That was in the 2nd Q. I think he was actually better in the first half than the second in terms of accuracy. Having missed open receivers on relatively short passes Roberts himself was clearly not happy with some of his throws. I think that we all need to keep in mind, that in spite of the high expectations and confidence people have in Roberts, he is just a 2nd year QB who had only started one game prior to this season. Some inconsistency is to be expected. He has delivered in big games before and will again.
- The Gryphons were clear cut winners in the special teams battle. Not only is Guelph Punter/Kicker Gabriel Ferraro the OUA Special Teams Player of the week but Guelph return teams and coverage units won their battles with the G-Hawks. I was very happy to see Ferraro have a perfect 4-4 day kicking FGs and hit on a 42-yarder. As we have become accustomed to, the Gryphons continue to be significantly superior to our opponents both covering and returning kicks and punts. For example, WLU punt returns – 5 for 19 yards. Ryan Nieuwesteeg punt returns – 6 for 104 yards. In terms of average that is 3.8 vs 17.3 yards per return.
- Penalties continue to be a concern for this team. With 8 infractions for 100 yards against WLU that was actually better than the totals against Manitoba or Waterloo but still too many.
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From Mike Hogan’s weekly In the Huddle column at OUA.ca:
Laurier gave the Gryphons a scare in Guelph. The Hawks hung around before the ‘Gryphs prevailed 30-19. Jacob Scarfone and A’Dre Fraser each had over 100-yards receiving for Guelph. They currently sit first and second in CIS receiving yards, with 338 and 224 yards, respectively. The Gryphons held last year’s CIS rushing champion to 67 yards on 17 carries, but Dillon Campbell showed another side to his game. He caught seven passes for 104 yards. Nick Parisotto saved the day with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, one in the end zone, the other at the one-yard line. He was named the CIS Defensive Player of the Week.