There were a lot of good things going on at yesterday’s Homecoming game. Unfortunately most of them weren’t on the field.
The weather was perfect. The crowd was large – official attendance 9,014. The Pig Roast/Tailgate was great. The atmosphere was electric. The GryFan Zone was packed but the lines for beer weren’t too bad. Unfortunately, the Purple Ponies of Western Ontario spoiled it with a convincing 50-16 win.
Not only did the loss end a 4-game win streak against the Mustangs, it marked the first loss to an OUA team at Alumni Stadium for the Gryphons since 2011. That was a streak of 22 games by my count.
After the first couple of series this game felt more like the Windsor game than any other this year. Except maybe for a drive late in the 1st Q with Illegal Procedure penalties on back-to-back plays that wiped out two 9-yard gains on first down. That definitely reminded me of a series in Ottawa where flags on back-to-back plays wiped out nice gains, ended a drive and damaged field position.
Penalties were a big deal in this game. Gryphons repeatedly hurt themselves with untimely infractions. The raw penalty numbers – Guelph 9-89 & Western 11-15 – are misleading. Eight of Guelph’s 9 penalties came while the game was competitive or within reach for the Gryphons. More than half (6) of Western’s 11 penalties were in the 4th Q when the game was out of reach, thus they were of little real consequence.
Gryphon penalties helped the Mustangs offense get on track. After squelching their offense on their first series, a 15-yard penalty started the Mustangs off in Guelph territory. Three plays later the Gryphons provided the Mustangs with an additional 15 yards and a 1st down on the 13-yd line. That was one of 4 easy 1st downs that Mustangs received courtesy of penalties.
Like the Windsor game, the self-inflicted wounds didn’t end there. The Gryphons were also minus 3 in the turnover department. Mind you, the two INTs that James Roberts threw weren’t bad passes. One deflected off the hands of his receiver while the other went through the arms of his receiver into the hands of the defender.
It was disappointing to see Guelph out-gained 225 yards to 93 on the ground. It is interesting to see how the UWO yardage broke down – RBs 27 for 149, QBs 9 for 51, RECs 3 for 26 – compared to Guelph – RBs 22 for 99, QBs 0 for 0, RECs 1 for -6.
Special teams, particularly the punt/kick coverage units, also didn’t play to the standard that we’ve seen of the past 5-6 seasons. And that is not the first time this year. On top of that, the always reliable Gabriel Ferraro was 2 for 4 on FGs. I don’t know why the fourth attempt was blocked but I’ll be interested to see. So far I’ve only re-watched the film of the 1st Half.
The other area that was disappointing was the pass coverage. More than a few times there seemed to be serious screw-ups allowing a Western receiver to run free. I don’t know how much of that is the result of playing 3 new linebackers [2 rookie starters, 1 in a new position] or having changes in the defensive backfield every game this year. For the most part the problems looked correctable.
Bottomline: When you play a team as good as Western you cannot make as many mistakes as the Gryphons and expect to win.
Game Stories & Links
Gryphons.ca: Mustangs spoil Homecoming game
With the loss, the Gryphons fall to 2-3 on the season while Western improves to 4-1. For the Gryphons, it marks the first time in five years that they have lost back-to-back games following last Saturday’s double overtime loss in Ottawa.
WesternMustangs.ca: Mustangs spoil Guelph Homecoming with 50-16 win
GUELPH, Ont. – A week after spoiling the opening of Richardson Stadium with a 27-13 win, the Mustangs put a damper on Guelph’s Homecoming festivities with a 50-16 victory over the Gryphons on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
“I’m pleased [about the win]. I’m especially pleased because it was a total team effort,” said Western head coach Greg Marshall. “I thought our special teams did a tremendous job early in the game pinning them down. We gave up that touchdown and then our offence responded right back, and that may have been the turning point. From that point on I really thought defensively we did a good job, offensively it was a little sporadic, we’re not there yet. We’re better than we were, but we’re not there yet.”
“Overall, that was our best team win in a long time, and this wasn’t an easy place to play in.”
The win, Western’s first over Guelph since 2011, moves the purple and white to 4-1 on the year
London Free Press: Mustangs steamroll Gryphons
GUELPH – The Western Mustangs have been ranked in the Top 10 all season. Saturday, they finally played like a Top 10 team.
The Mustangs went into a wild Alumni Stadium setting and tamed the Guelph Gryphons 50-16 in Ontario university play.
The dominance the Mustangs displayed against the defending Yates Cup champions, a team that is still expected to challenge for that trophy, was shocking.
Guelph Sports Journal: Westerm puts brakes on Gryphons …
OUA Website: Box Score, Stats & Play-by-play
City TV broadcast: OUA.tv video archive
* * *
Below is a gallery of photos by Doug Pflug. You can view several hundred more at the University of Guelph – Gryphon Football Facebook page.