Last year I started my preview like this …
One thing for sure … it is nice to have a competitive game to look forward to for a second straight week. The 2-1 GeeGees are the #9 ranked team in the CIS. Guelph is #5. It could be a good one.
It wasn’t. And, I continued …
Mind you, heading into last year’s  match Ottawa was ranked #8 and Guelph #7, and we didn’t get a competitive game. In fact, on a rainy Saturday in Ottawa the Gryphons embarrassed the GeeGees 42-7.
For the third year in a row the GeeGees have moved into the CIS Top 10 poll in the days ahead of this game. They are #8 this week. But it has made no difference when the ball was snapped. Will the result be different this year?
Ottawa has gone through a major overhaul of the coaching staff. The changes were primarily on the defensive side of the ball but the GeeGees also added former Gryphon O-Line coach Carl Tolmie. I’ve said several times that I thought these changes would have a positive effect.
Certainly there is the element of surprise on defense. No one knows much about the GeeGees new system, a factor, no doubt, in the GeeGees upset win over Mac this past week. Guelph should be able to learn some things from that but it won’t be the entire picture. Also, I doubt OUA coaches know a lot about the tendencies of uO’s new defensive coordinator Jean-Vincent Posy-Audette as his entire career previous to this has been in Quebec.
I do think this will be the most closely contested game these teams have played in years. I expect Guelph to win but I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I knew who was healthy and would be playing on Saturday. We’ve had some young and inexperienced players step in and do a good job but as the schedule gets tougher I really hope we’ll see some key players back in the lineup on a weekly basis.
Two keys to the game:
First, don’t let the GeeGees offense turn short passes into big plays. It was plays like that that accounted for all of Queen’s TDs as well as Windsor’s game winning TD. Ottawa is very good at the quick passing game and it would be a disaster if we let them do what Queen’s was able to do. We can’t miss tackles.
Second, since this Ottawa defense hasn’t been shown that they can stop a team that can run the ball I’d like to see the Gryphons run the ball early and often. And not give up on it even if it isn’t immediately successful. At this point in the season we have more depth and experience at running back. Use the run to set up the pass rather than the other way around. Of course, I might feel a little different if I knew whether A’dre Fraser and Ryan Nieuwesteeg were going to be playing.
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Another interesting story-line is the Baines family matchup. Guelph’s starting Sam linebacker, and 2nd leading tackler, is Riley Baines. His older brother, Mitchell is Ottawa’s leading receiver. If I recall correctly they both played when these teams met in 2014 but it was one of Riley’s first games and he only on special teams. On Saturday there is a real chance they could run into each other. Riley is 8th in the OUA in tackles. Mitchell is 2nd in receiving yards per game.
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Game Previews & related links:
GeeGees.ca: Undefeated Ottawa meets defending champs
OUA 55-man Depth Charts – Week 4 charts not available as of Thursday night
Radio interview: GeeGees HC Jamie Barresi on TSN 1200
The series since 2007: This series has shifted. There were close games in 2007 & 2008. Then it was rather one-sided in favour of Ottawa from 2009 to 2011. The teams did not meet in 2012 or 2013. The tide turned strongly in favour of the Gryphons the past two years.
2015 – 48 – 26 Guelph
2014 – 42 – 7 Guelph
2011 – 35 – 8 Ottawa
2010 – 54 – 11 Ottawa
2009 – 50 – 26 Ottawa
2008 – OUA quarter-final – 42 – 37 Ottawa
2007 – 31 – 23 Ottawa
Broadcast: Watch the game on OUA.tv