Mike Hogan talks Guelph


A good story from Mike Hogan in his weekly In the Huddle column on the “unanswerable” questions that are raised by the results from Guelph’s season so far – “Gryphons cutting it close”.

“Cutting it close” is a reference to the Gryphons playoff chances. And you can’t argue with that, though I agree with Coach MacNeill, if the Gryphons can get their act together they could be as dangerous in the OUA playoffs as any 6th-seeded team ever has been.

Why do we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway?
Sometimes life throws you questions that seem unanswerable. For those who watch OUA football there’s one query that still seems to avoid a logical response.

How did Windsor beat Guelph?

“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” Gryphons head coach Kevin MacNeill told In The Huddle.

The first-year head coach quickly gave the Lancers full credit for their 33-29 win on Labour Day, saying Windsor was very aggressive and extremely motivated in the victory. He also added that he learned something about himself.

“I hate losing more as a head coach than as a defensive coordinator,” laughed MacNeill, “Nobody told me it would hurt that bad.”

It’s been a frustrating baptism for MacNeill, an outstanding linebacker back in the day at Laurier. Along with the aforementioned upset loss to Windsor, the defending Yates Cup champions have lost to Western, McMaster and Ottawa. Wins over Queen’s and Toronto have left the ‘Gryphs with a 2-4 mark, tied in the win column with the Lancers, Gaels and York Lions.

Nobody saw this coming.

A veteran group was returning to defend the conference championship, though the defence was certainly hit hard with the loss of John Rush to graduation, and Curtis Newton, who surprisingly made the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts with a year of eligibility remaining. The Gryphons have allowed 32 points per game, which ranks them 21st of 27 CIS teams.

It hasn’t been an easy road, nor should it be for the defending conference champions. Both Queen’s and McMaster were coming off bye weeks before their game with Guelph, giving those two teams a couple of weeks to prep. Still, if they would have beaten Windsor and knocked off Ottawa, who they lost to in double overtime, they’d be 4-2 and there wouldn’t be any eyebrows raised.

But now the Gryphons have to win out to finish at .500, something the coach is confident they can do, that is, if his group possesses the proper frame of mind. MacNeill is certainly aware of preparation in that area.

“Every week is huge,” said the coach as he prepared for the game against his alma mater. “Any other mindset allows mediocrity to set in.”

It’s now up to his team to practice what the coach is preaching, and preaching, and preaching.

“We’re focusing on winning (next) week,” reiterated MacNeill before saying something that almost everybody is thinking, but not many around the league are saying publically. “I think we’ll be one of the most dangerous teams to play in the playoffs.”

If they get there.

Guelph has a bye week before it travels to Laurier for a rare Friday morning game, and then hosts York eight days later. A loss to either one of those teams could make the Gryphons reign as Yates Cup champions a short one.

And a team with that much talent missing the post season would be the biggest head scratcher of them all.

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