Preview of the season opener vs UofT Varsity Blues

UofT logoGuelph has dominated this series over the past 20 years outside of the 2010-2012 period when the Varsity Blues gave Guelph some surprisingly tough and competitive games, including an upset in 2011. I don’t think it is a coincidence that current Guelph assistant coaches Donnavan Carter and John Engel were the DC & OC on those Blues teams.

Guelph and Toronto did not meet in 2015 when the Varsity Blues put together a 3-5 record. The Blues have been challenging for a playoff spot in recent years but haven’t made it over the hump. It could be more of the same in 2016

UofT is often a little thin on depth and experience but they do return their team MVP in defensive back Adrian Bernard, a CFL prospect O-Lineman in Danny Sprukulis and a pair of pretty good running backs in Alex Malone and Divante Smith. The UofT starter at QB will be 5th year player Marcus Hobbs. This is Hobbs first season as starter but he seen lots of game action in previous seasons and was the team’s punter earlier in his career.

Here is the Season Preview for the Toronto Varsity Blues via the CIS website.

Toronto utilized an impressive ground game in 2015, highlighted by Divante Smith and Alex Malone. The pair garnered two 100+ yard games apiece last season and both placed in the OUA top 10 in yards per game. The Blues return almost their entire starting offensive line this season

Defensively, the Blues will look to take advantage a strong chemistry with all five of the team’s leading tacklers returning from last season. Three of the team’s top five includes a superior linebacker group in OUA all-rookie Matthew Renaud, fifth-year NCAA transfer Adrian Bernard, and third-year playmaker Paul Kozachuk. Together the threesome garnered 110 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one interception.

Game Previews:

Gryphons.ca: Gryphon Football starts Yates Cup title defence versus U of T

OUA Uncovered via VarsityBlues.ca: Video with HC Greg Gary + Mike Hogan’s Sesason Preview

CTV Kitchener: Gary Jeffries & Preview

My Thoughts: This seems like a good season-opening match-up for the Gryphons. The Blues aren’t the push over that they were prior to 2010. They present a bit of a challenge. Remember, they took a lead into half-time in their opener against McMaster last year. With a ton of new starters it would be nice for the Gryphons to be pushed a little while not having to face a team that would be a serious upset threat. That is these UofT Blues in my opinion.

Toronto seems to have found their niche in the very competitive OUA recruiting landscape by adding key NCAA transfers, amixture of Americans and Canadians, and re-patriating Canadian who have attended American prep schools. That makes their 2016 recruiting class a little more mysterious than most. Will they have another impact player like Adrian Bernard in the current group?

I hope to see the Gryphons jump out to a double digit lead early in the game. I certainly hope that they don’t start slow and allow the V-Blues to hang around, in part because I want to see them be able to get a lot of players into the game. As the home team the Gryphons will be able to dress 55 players. That is a new rule in the OUA this year and I like.

I’m also looking forward to the first tailgate of the season. The P-o-P Group tailgate will be returning to Parking Lot 7 at the top of The Hill this year. One word of advice: dig out those cow bells now, don’t wait until the last second.

Tailgate from 2014 game vs UofT

Tailgate from 2014 game vs UofT

Record since 2008: Guelph holds a 6-1 advantage over the Varsity Blues since 2007. In fact, the 2011 upset at the Varsity Centre was the first time Toronto had defeated the Gryphons since 1995. The Gryphons hold a 23-16-1 head-to-head advantage over UofT since their first meeting in 1976. [Source: varsityblues.ca]

2014 – 50-18 Guelph
2013 – 38-12 Guelph
2012 – 31-29  Guelph
2011 – 21-12  Toronto
2010 – 15-13  Guelph
2009 – 53-25  Guelph
2008 – 30-0  Guelph

Broadcast: Streamed online at OUA.tv and on Rogers Cable 20 in the Guelph area.

Disclaimer: Most of this post was written ahead of time because I was busy getting married yesterday. Some important things just need to be done before the football season starts. I’m a lucky man!!

 

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