It is also hard to believe that training camp is already underway.
Players reported on Thursday. Practices started yesterday.
Here is the Week 1 schedule …
Fri-Sun – 8 am to 12 noon – Power practices
Monday – 9 am – Intra-squad scrimmage – * The public is invited to watch * – kickoff is at 9:30
Tues-Thurs – 8 am to 12 noon – Power practices
Friday – leave for Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Saturday – Summer Showdown – StFX vs Guelph vs MtA
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If August 11 seems like an early start training camp, it is. There are two reasons for that.
In 7 of the past 8 years the OUA football schedule has had to begin the regular season in late August in order to handle an uneven number of teams and the bye week it creates.
Now in 2017, the length of training camp has been extended from 14 to 17 days which was a very good move in my opinion. That initiative came from USports athletic directors and not the football coaches themselves, but it was warmly received.
Fourteen-day training camps were really 7 or 8 days of training camp. After that point the focus of camp shifted to preparing for the first game of the season. The added three days will allow for more teaching, more coaching and more evaluation.
The fact there is more time and opportunity for on-field teaching and coaching is the reasons teams bring in additional coaches to help with training camp.
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Speaking of guest coaches, Kevin MacNeill has pulled off a real coup this year, bringing in Brian Towriss, the winningest head football coach in Canadian college football history. Towriss recently retired from the University of Saskatchewan where he coached 315 games and led his team to 9 Vanier Cups appearances with 3 victories.
Coach MacNeill recently wrote …
We are very lucky to have two U Sports coaching legends at camp this year in Gary Jeffries and Brian Towriss. They met against each other in the 2005 Vanier Cup and will be the Head Coaches of the respective teams in our intersquad scrimmage on August 14th, 9:30am kickoff.
Also from Coach MacNeill …
We are very excited to get back to training camp and prove that last year we were not the team our record showed. The commitment and motivation this preseason has been at an all time high. This year’s captains deserve a lot of credit for creating a culture of hard work even through the summer.
The return of Johnny Augustine and Jacob Scarfone are definitely welcome ones for the offence. We open our training camp on August 10th with meetings and are on the field starting August 11th.
This 2017 Gryphon squad is again fairly young. There are only a handful of fifth-year players. To have Johnny Augustine and Jacob Scarfone back from CFL teams is huge in my opinion. Check out this Gryphons.ca story – Gryphon offense gets key veterans back for 2017.
Adding veterans instead of losing them already differentiates this year from 2016 when Scarfone and Orion Edwards were both lost for year due to off-season injuries. Now, if we can just avoid the unprecedented number of injuries experienced during the season last year as well, in my opinion, this team will be back as a serious contender for the Yates Cup.
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There are lots of things I’m going to be looking for when I make it to Guelph to watch some TC practices. [I’m hoping that is tomorrow morning but it will be a “family” decision.] But number one on my list might be watching the new coaches – OC Jean-Francois Joncas, LBs coach Joe Sardo and DBs coach Mark Forsythe.
I know their backgrounds. I have met all three. And I have heard many good things about each of them. I look forward to seeing them in action.
Coach Joncas moved his family from Quebec to Guelph several weeks ago. Coaches Forsythe and Sardo from Burlington and Hamilton. They are part-time coaches. How committed are they? Committed enough to be at training camp full-time. They are staying in on-campus housing until the season opener against Ottawa on August 27.
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Some more quick notes based on feedback I received from Day 1 of camp …
♦ The new $10-million Football Pavillion looks great from the outside. Most of the work that remains is on the interior. The locker room will be ready for the team to move into when they return from Nova Scotia. The grand opening is still scheduled for September.
♦ As the photo here shows, Theo Landers is working as a quarterback. That decision, made back in June, turns out to be fortuitous in light of the fact that two of the QBs in camp are not participating in practices. One is a freshman who suffered an injury in summer football. The other is Zach Buchan who was expected to be the #2 behind James Roberts. Buchan’s was not a football related injury.
♦ With Scarfone back the Guelph receiving corps has “a ton of great receivers”.
♦ Defensive line transfer Alain Cimankinda is “a beast” who will give our opponents fits.
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And from social media …