First off, here is a link to a GuelphToday.com game story I missed earlier – Gryphons now need some help to make the playoffs. Here are some quotes that relate to what I’m talking about below.
It started off well for the home side, who built up a 17-6 lead in a first half they completely dominated offensively.
Guelph had just 107 total offensive yards in that half while Laurier used a couple of huge plays from scrimmage – one a 71-yard run by Levondre Gordon and the other a 94-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Brendan McCracken – to score touchdowns.
“Too many mistakes. We were shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Gryphon running back Mac Jones.
“Coach just kept telling us we have to execute and focus. That’s what we talked about at halftime,” Jones said.
The talk appeared to work, as Guelph was a different team in the second half, playing much better on both sides of the ball.
Of their 467 yards of total offence, 360 of it came in the second half, including a 25-yard touchdown run by Jones, a 9-yard touchdown catch by Kian Schaffer-Baker and a two-yard keeper for another major by Roberts.
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Also, the player honourees from last week’s game via Gryphons.ca – Fraser, Korol & Baines named Players of the Game
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While keeping in mind that a loss is still a loss, there were some bright spots in the Laurier game that we didn’t see in the two previous losses to Mac and Western. The Gryphons were in the game until the very end. Strictly speaking, the Gryphons were in the Mac game until the middle of the 4th Q, while they were all but out of the Western game before the 3rd Q was over.
I have now watched the full video of the game (with the Play by Play summary in hand). Here are a few more thoughts and observations …
♦ A’dre Fraser , Luke Korol and Riley Baines were good choices for players of the game. They all had an excellent games. I would say that Fraser had season highs with his 9 catches for 127 yards but I think he had 12 catches in Wk 4 when he made his season debut in Ottawa. Korol led the team in tackles in spite of playing with only one good shoulder. Baines was a Baines – reminiscent of brother Jarryd in 2012 – and that is good.
♦ It was nice to see #29 Justis Croasdale back on the field. Unless I’m mistaken this was his first action since he was injured in the season. I noticed him on some special teams units but I didn’t see him at defensive end. Hopefully, he will see some action on defense before the season is over.
♦ On special teams, punt coverage was very good. Ferraro placed several punts very close to the sidelines. Laurier essentially got nothing – 8 yards on 8 returns. Coming into the game Laurier’s returner was #3 in the OUA in return yards. As a team the Hawks were averaging over 10 yards per return. Holding them to an average of 1 yard without taking any penalties was exceptional.
♦ Even with Ryan Nieuwesteeg out of the lineup our punt return units did a decent job, with the exception one fumble. The primary returners were freshmen Matt Creelman and Jordan Terrio. Furthermore, Gabriel Ferraro [42 ypp] out-punted his Laurier counterpart [34 ypp] by 8 yards per exchange. Guelph was winning in the field position battle on almost every exchange.
♦ The Gryphons weren’t so good in the kick-off department. Guelph had no success on 4 kick-offs. Two were returned for big yardage – 58 & 31 yards. A third KO went out of bounds, resulting in a penalty and giving Laurier the ball on their 40. The final KO was an attempted onside kick that was pretty well placed but the Hawks came up with the recovery. Brandon Gordon had a return of 47 yards but a couple of other returns were only about 10 yards.
♦ The 58-yard reception called back on a penalty was made by Kian Schaffer-Baker, not Jordan Terrio. [I also saw a 9-yd Johnny Augustine run that the play-by-play recorded as a Mack Jones carry. Not sure if that effected the stats.] Schaffer-Baker had 2 receptions for 44 yards and Terrio 3 for 35.
These two teenagers are having great freshmen seasons. To date, Schaffer-Baker has 19 receptions for 379 yards. This was only Terrio’s second OUA game and he added to his 5 receptions for 86 yards at Mac. I saw where one Laurier fan said Schaffer-Baker is a future All Canadian. Both are likely OUA All Rookie selections and future all stars in my opinion.
♦ There is a good story on Jordan Terrio here.
“I love it here,” Terrio said. “The team’s great and everybody’s friendly, takes you under their wings, especially A’dre (Fraser). I’ve been sort of like shadowing him and he’s been helping me out a lot.”
♦ The Gryphons are continuing to get solid performances from several other “new ” receivers. Thomas Bresciani had two more catches to bring his total to 21 in his first CIS season. His fellow Saskatchewan-ite Kade Belyk pulled in 6 for 77 yards. On top of their receiving skills they are two of the better blockers and valuable on special teams as well.
With Fraser back and healthy (I was worried his injury at McMaster was serious), real contributions from the freshmen, a real receiving threat at TE in Geoff Bezruchko and reliable contributions from the Saskie pair this receiving corps is starting to look pretty good. If Ryan Nieuwesteeg returns then things look bright heading toward the playoffs, compared to early in the season when our starters had virtually no CIS experience.
♦ This reminds me that I don’t recall seeing Colton Jones in the game. He is another “newcomer” who has had a solid season. The redshirt freshman has 22 receptions for 254 yards to go along with 3 TDs. I’m not sure why he didn’t play.
♦ I’m trying to wrap this up because I’m already a couple of days later than I planned on getting it done but … I haven’t yet said anything about the defense. This game was no different than most this year as I was reasonably happy with the defense 90% of the time. That other 10% really hurt. Technically it was 7.018%.
♦ Laurier ran a total of 57 offensive plays. They had 4 explosive plays the entire game. A 94-yd pass & run play and runs of 71, 42 & 36. Those 4 plays correspond with 4 of Laurier’s 5 scoring drives – 3 TDs & a FG. Their other score came on a drive of 0 yards. They kicked a FG from the 16-yard line. The same spot where they recovered a fumbled punt.
Now think about that. Other than the 4 series where they gave up a big play the Gryphon defense gave up next to nothing to the Laurier offense. Those 4 plays accounted for more than half of Laurier’s yards. That is a little bit of a familiar situation. It was the same type of explosive plays that hurt us against Windsor and Queen’s. When we limited the Mac offense to zero explosive plays I hoped we were past this problem.
♦ Final thought … I like what Todd Galloway and the offense did in this game. Galloway adapted to what he had (injuries have been a problem) and came out with something new – i.e. the twin backs formation. There were some execution and penalty issues in the 1st Half but they put it together in the 2nd Half with the exception of 2 interceptions and 2 failed 2-pt conversions. Still, you can’t complain about 360 yards in a half against a good defense.