♦ The Gryphons had their first opportunity today to hit some players wearing different coloured jerseys as they scrimmaged with the McMaster Marauders. It was a nice afternoon for football with the sun shining and temperatures well below the highs temps we’ve had for so much of this summer.
♦ I found the whole thing enjoyable to watch even though it took a while to get rolling. Both teams warmed up separately for quite a while before they faced each other in 1-on-1 drills. They didn’t spend as much time on those drills as I’ve seen in other combined practices and jumped quickly to the “controlled” scrimmage.
♦ As is always the case at Guelph, the scrimmage was officiated by actual OUA referees. That alone makes the event more watchable. I think it is to the advantage of both teams by making it more game-like and providing opportunities to correct things. I also saw the referees monitoring the 1-on-1 drills. How valuable is it when an OUA ref says to a player … “You can’t do that with your arm [he demonstrates] or I’ll throw a flag in the game.”
♦ Guelph definitely drew lots of “laundry” from those officials early in the scrimmage. There will be some valuable lessons to be learned from that film, especially for the younger players. Penalties have been a problem for the Gryphons early in the regular season for the past few seasons. Penalties nullified several 1st down plays and killed momentum in the early going against Manitoba last year so there is no guarantee the lesson will be learned. Too bad it couldn’t be that simple.
♦ Like the Tweet above says … it was an opportunity for the young guys to shine. Freshmen were part of the receivers rotation right off the bat. Freshmen and inexperienced DBs were on the field almost from the beginning. With both starting OTs not dressed the young OLs saw lots of snaps. Donnie Egerter also watched as Cory Flude, Lukas Brennan, Chris Larson and Dewan Soyer all saw lots of action on the interior of the D-Line.
♦ No score was kept but everyone knows that each team scored a TD during the 2 “quarters” of scrimmage. I think Mac scored on their second series while it took Guelph a little longer. It might have been 4 or 5 series in. It was a long drive with multiple first downs and you knew as they picked up steam that they weren’t going to be denied. I didn’t make note of it but I think the TD was a pass from James Roberts to Rob Carnegie.
♦ Most of the big plays on the day came from the running backs – Mack Jones, Jamal Hooker and Daniel Palmer-Salmon. At least one of those was a screen pass that was turned into a large gain. Palmer-Salmon ran for a TD of 30 yards +/- but it came during the situational part of the scrimmage if I remember correctly.
Mack Jones had a couple of big gainers. One was a long run before he was eventually forced-out on the sideline. Both the Mac DBs who “pushed” him out, had plenty of time to line him up and looked like they wanted to hammer Jones. They ended up on the ground and Jones was still on his feet. Defenders are going to learn quickly that Jones is a load to bring down.
♦ I only took one video clip during the 3-1/2 hours and I happened to capture this very nice 15-yard run up the middle by redshirt freshman Jamal Hooker …
♦ If there was an award for an “extra effort” touchdown it would have gone to freshman WR Aidan Fraser. During the red zone situationals, Fraser caught a pass about the 5-yd line, then bounced off a tackler, dragged another, twisted and stretched to get the ball across the line. In another red zone situation freshman QB Zach Buchan pulled the ball and sprinted around the left end untouched for a 5 or 6 yard TD.
♦ McMaster is a veteran team who will be in the OUA playoff picture again this season. They return many more starters and dress roster players than do the Gryphons. Their record-breaking 5th year QB probably took 70 or 75% of their snaps. Their #2 QB took the balance. In contrast, all 4 Guelph QBs saw action. Overall, I was really impressed that the experience factor didn’t appear to be a big advantage for Mac as the two teams played fairly evenly.
♦ The day ended with a “Kick Off” between the Field Goal kickers. With a little luck on his side Gabriel Ferraro was a perfect 5 for 5, hitting 37, 42, 47, 52 & 57 yard field goals. I think it was the 47 yarder that came out funny – it was a definite line drive. It sort of floated and wobbled at the same time. I immediately thought there may have been a problem with the hold but, amazingly, it hit the cross bar and went through. The Marauder kicker hit from the 37, 42 & 52, missing from the 47 and not attempting a 57 yarder.
♦ After the “game”, I heard one Guelph coach say … “this was the friendliest scrimmage” he had ever been a part of. As an observer of 7 or 8 of these things I had to agree. There was lots of shaking of hands, hugging of former teammates and group photos afterwards. There were no scuffles, skirmishes or fights like we saw at Western in 2013. Nor were there opposition players hotdogging and taunting the Gryphons as with Laurier in Spring 2014. There was not a single unnecessary roughness penalty that I recall. These teams were both disciplined, professional and well coached.
♦ There was a good turnout of fans. Several hundred. You never would have seen that at an OUA scrimmage ten years ago.
♦ The team shifts now shifts from Training Camp mode [4 hour power practices] to game week preparations. That also means that coaches will have to make decisions about who will dress for the season opener against UofT on Sunday, Aug 28. Those who are not expected to dress will work as the scout team simulating the offense and defense that the Gryphons will face in the next game.