I’m excited for the Yates Cup game tomorrow. I plan to be at UWO’s TD Waterhouse Stadium by mid morning for some tailgating. I’ve heard from lots of Gryphon fans who plan to be there and others who will be watching from home.
It is disappointing to hear that the game will be far from a sellout. Perhaps the quality of the CHCH broadcast last week tipped the scales for a few UWO fans who have chosen to stay home. It really think part of the problem is the lack of TV broadcasts during the season. One theory that makes sense is that you need the weekly TV presence to build interest over the course of two months to produce crowds and larger audiences at the end of the season. Last year’s attendance at McMaster was also disappointing and a long way from a sellout.
As for the game itself, a lot of the talk is about the injury sustained last week by Western’s MVP QB Will Finch. Will he play or won’t he? A lot of that talk misses the fact that Laurier did an outstanding job of defensing the Mustangs. Both before Finch was hurt and after. I’ve thought all year that Guelph had a defense that had a good chance to slow down their record-setting offense. We’ll see how that works out tomorrow.
As they have done all season the OUA released the 55-man Rosters & Depth Charts for tomorrow’s game. When I take a look I see Finch listed among the 55 Mustang players who will make up the 47-man roster tomorrow. That’s no surprise. The conventional wisdom is that Finch won’t/shouldn’t play. Being listed on the 55 doesn’t confirm anything one way or the other. What I don’t see are some important names for the Gryphons. Specifically D-Linemen Blake McNeely, Zack Mallough and Michael Halfday will not be playing tomorrow. Mallough and Halfday are both London natives.
If I had to pick only a single key for Gryphon success tomorrow it would probably be … stopping, or at least limiting, the Mustang rushing attack. Knowing that we will be missing a couple of D-Line veterans makes me a little anxious. But not worried. Guelph is deep in talented players even if some won’t’ be as experienced as I would like. I look for Donnie Egerter and Daniel Horta to be backed up by Jelani Pascoe along with one of the converted OLs, either Greg Corfield or Andrew Chichka. OG Andrew Pickett and OT Jaylen Guthrie have also seen spot duty on the D-Line at various times throughout the season.
Speaking of Guthrie, he probably played more last week than any game through the regular season. He frequently lined up at Left Tackle and Matt Toppan moved out to the Tight End position on the left side. With Patrick Gerrie at the other TE position, the double TEs formation was part of the reason for Guelph’s rushing success in the Semi. Strong play from the veteran O-Line will be another key to success. Open holes for Johnny Augustine and give James Roberts time to pass and Guelph should be in good shape.
Special teams might be where the Gryphons can separate themselves from the Mustangs. Guelph has multiple OUA All Stars for the umpteenth year in a row while no Western special teams players who were so honoured.
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There are lots of links related to tomorrow’s game. Here are some of them …
Mike Hogan’s In the Huddle – Finally … the 108th Yates Cup
For the Gryphons, the game is equally important, but for different reasons. They haven’t won a conference title since 1996. To do that, they’ll have to beat a Mustangs team that at times has looked unbeatable. It should come as no surprise that Guelph head coach Stu Lang isn’t shocked by the matchup in the finale.
“There was a lot of talk that this may happen,” said Lang.’ “We would talk to coaches on the road during recruiting trips and everyone thought we would both end up 8-0. Western was blowing everyone out, so we figured we might finish second anyway.”
London Free Press sportswriters Ryan Pyette – Top team clashes missed – and Morris Dalla Costa – Battle of the best finally here – both address the sad fact that these two teams did not meet during the regular season. Perhaps that adds some excitement to the matchup tomorrow but it hurts OUA football in general.
Also from the London Free Press – Western head coach Greg Marshall thinks his team much better than his last Yates Cup winner. Marshall talks about this season as it compares to the 2013 season.
Western Gazette – Mustangs take on Gryphons in 108th Yates Cup final. Not a bad article from the UWO student newspaper.
Guelph Mercury – Mustangs coach expects defences to rule Yates Cup game. Mustangs HC Greg Marshall talks to Rob Massey.
Guelph Mercury – Gryphons await challenge of Western’s fresh faces. Essentially an interview with CB Orion Edwards. The fact these two teams ahven’t faced each other in 2015 comes up again.
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And some social media …
Listen to podcast interview with UWO All Canadian Eddie Meredith. Host Norman James believes the Western Mustangs are still 15-20 point favourites even without Will Finch.