Having a bye week allows me to share some additional info and thoughts on the win over Waterloo. Most weeks I don’t find the time to post a second post-game story even though I would like to.
A week later this win still seems important. In fact, after the Warriors were destroyed by Queen’s 68-17 on Thursday night, a loss to the Warriors would look absolutely terrible.
As I said a week ago, the win was ugly. The Gryphons played a poor game. They made so many mistakes that they gave the Warriors a real chance to win it. The one highlight is the character they showed in coming back from 20 points down to win.
Anyways, on to …
Players of the Game
Read the full Gryphons.ca article here. Worth noting … at the end of the article is a list of the Players of the Game for each game this season.
Not only was running back Johnny Augustine selected a Gryphon Players of the Game, he was named the OUA Offensive Player of the Week for his 3 touchdown performance.
I actually left that game thinking that QB Theo Landers was the likely choice as the top offensive player. That wasn’t intended as a slight to Augustine but recognition that Landers did an excellent job in his first-ever start. Mike Hogan seemed to be thinking the same way as he named Landers his choice for Weekend Warrior on Krown Countdown U this past week. [He talks about Landers at 21:18 mark.]
Also, from Hogan’s Week 6 OUA In the Huddle column on OUA.ca …
When the Guelph Gryphons looked up at the scoreboard after three quarters last Saturday, they were facing a 39-26 deficit to the hometown Waterloo Warriors, and were sporting a 2-3 record with their playoff hopes slipping away. And by the way, they also had their back-up quarterback leading the way. Little did they know it at the time, but the Gryphs had the black and gold right where they wanted them.
Third-year QB Theo Landers, playing for the injured James Roberts, was making his first OUA start. He wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible in the first 45 minutes, but something started to click for the Maple Ridge, B.C. product when the pressure was at its most intense.
He threw a five-yard TD pass to Jacob Scarfone on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to six, but just two plays later, the Warriors scored a touchdown of their own. For many teams that would have essentially ended the game, but Landers led Guelph on a seven-play TD drive, capped by the QB calling his own number for a five-yard score.
A pair of Gabriel Ferraro field goals would tie things up, but the Warriors would counter with a FG of their own to take a three point lead. After the ensuing kick-off, Landers and the Gryphons took over at their own 45-yard line with just 58 seconds left on the clock.
After two pass completions, Landers would hand the ball off to Johnny Augustine, who raced 22 yards for the go-ahead score with just 22 seconds left, helping the Gryphons escape with a 53-49 win to keep their post-season hopes alive.
In the fourth quarter alone, Landers was 8-11 passing for 94 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 20 yards and another TD.
Landers would finish with 205 passing yards and 106 more on the ground to lead all rushers.
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The Gryphons break into the Football Reporters of Canada Top 10 rankings for the first time this season – USports Football Top 10 – Movement in the back five.
FRC – U SPORTS FOOTBALL TOP 10 (#6)
|* McMaster edges UBC for 6th place based on number of higher-placed votes.
Other teams receiving votes: Ottawa (8), Saskatchewan (5), Waterloo (3), Concordia (3), Carleton (2).
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My Final Thoughts on the Game
In my preview of the game I wrote …
The defense and special teams units need to play very well so that the offense isn’t backed up on their goal-line or having to play from behind. I think both units are very capable of doing that. Some big returns and forced turnovers would be extremely helpful in taking the pressure off of Landers shoulders.
Very little worked out as I expected. The D allowed way too many explosive plays by the Warriors. The two that really bothered me were blown coverages that resulted in huge pass completions for the Warriors. Our normally reliable special teams units had two costly fumbles that led to UW scores. Those turnovers were offset by Jason Richards 96-yd KO return for a TD and a beautifully executed short kickoff recovery.
Two other blunders resulted from apparent brain cramps – intercepting a ball that should have been knocked down and returning a KO out to the 2-yd line rather than giving up a single. Both cost the Gryphons huge chunks of field position in the first half.
I’m still at a loss to explain how, on a day when these units needed to step up, they came up with such inconsistent efforts. I’d say the same about several dropped passes in the first half.
Everything that you didn’t want to have happen in a game with a first-time starting QB, happened – bad field position, dropped passes and the pressure of having to play from behind.
In the end it all worked out. That’s why I consider it a great character win even if it wasn’t an overall strong performance.
Speaking of strong performances, and consistency, Gabe Ferraro was outstanding. He hit on 3 of 3 FGs. None of them were chip shots – 32, 41 & 51 yards. And for the second game in a row his punting was solid with an average over 39 yards per punt.
Guelph lost the turnover battle 4 to 0. [I don’t count Guelph’s INT because that pass should have been knocked down, not caught.]
Guelph did do a good job with respect to limiting penalties. Nine for 55 yards is something I can live with. The Warriors hurt themselves with 17 penalties for 127 yards. I don’t buy the excuse that penalties cost Waterloo the game. Guelph moved the ball with ease in the final minute. Johnny would have gone the distance on his game-winning TD whether the ball was on the 22 or the 52. With 23 seconds left and timeouts the Gryphons could have run several more plays.
QB Landers played his best with the pressure on. I think that is a game changer going forward. Hopefully, we will see the coaches rely on him more as a dual threat in short yardage and goal line situations, even after James Roberts returns. He could be very hard for other teams to defend.
Being able to convert on a regular basis, in 2nd-&-short and 3rd-&-short situations, is big. If Landers can pull the ball and run or pass defenses won’t be able to pack as many bodies into the middle. I’d love to see him running the ball from the shotgun in short yardage like Clemson did with Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson.