I remember being happy back in 2008 and 2009 that the Gryphons were in an OUA Quarter-final game. This year that was a disappointment. Only now that the Gryphons have advanced to the semi-final does it really feel like the playoffs to me.
Maybe that is partly because I totally expected Guelph to win last week. I still expect Guelph to win this week but you have to feel a lot more apprehensive about it. After all, Western is 8-0 and the #2-ranked team in the country.
Talking about expectations, Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall said in his post-game comments after the Labour Day game that he expected to play the Gryphons again in the playoffs. And here we are …
Game Previews & Related Links
Gryphon.ca: PREVIEW: Gryphons vs Mustangs in OUA Semi-Final
“It’s win or go home,” Guelph head coach Kevin MacNeill says.
High stakes, for sure, but for the streaking Gryphons, there is plenty of incentive to manufacture a playoff upset on the very field where they lifted the 2015 Yates Cup. The team has won six of the past seven games, including last week’s one-sided 30-8 Quarter-final road win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Gryphons have shown they can play with anyone.
WesternMustangs.ca has an article and video interviews – Mustangs set for OUA Semifinal showdown with Gryphons
The Mustangs and Gryphons have played tightly contested games over the last few years, including the postseason; Guelph bested the Mustangs in the 108th Yates Cup and are the last team to defeat Western in a semifinal, having done it in 2014. The match between these two teams in the regular season went to overtime and saw the Mustangs come out with a 41-34 victory … Although it was a high scoring contest, it was also the smallest margin of victory the Mustangs have had all season …
From the OUA.ca website, Mike Hogan’s OUA In The Huddle – Week 10 column …
A handful of years ago, In The Huddle had a discussion with Guelph head coach Stu Lang. The Gryphons were preparing for a playoff game where they were a decided underdog.
Lang is a man of faith. When asked if he used any religious parables with his team, perhaps the story of David and Goliath, the coach responded with a classic line.
He said he had, comparing his team to the young man who felled a giant with a slingshot before adding, “This year we’re bringing the stones.”
Fast forward to the present, where Kevin MacNeill finds himself preparing for a game in which his Gryphs are underdogs …
USports.ca website: Weekend Watch: Conference Semifinals
The skinny: Western was the only undefeated team in the country during the regular season and has now qualified for the playoffs every year since 1984… Guelph, which opened the 2017 post-season last Saturday with a 30-8 quarter-final win at Ottawa, is making its sixth straight playoff appearance… The Mustangs have won 10 of 16 previous playoff confrontations but the Gryphons have taken the last two in 2015 (23-17 Yates Cup win at London) and 2014 (51-26 semifinal win at Guelph)… Guelph was Western’s toughest opponent in the 2017 regular season
And here is an outside perspective on the game, from a new blog that covers OUA and USport football, with a focus on offensive line play – Western Vs Guelph: OUA Semi’s.
What really stood out to me was when Guelph needed to run the ball on running downs, the UoG OL took over the game. Augustine had one of those days where his duties running the ball ended by the middle of the 2nd quarter.
… I really like how Guelph has started to incorporate a power running game, and they were efficient using an H-back (or Dlineman). While this is something that bothers me as an offensive line evaluator, it is something that Guelph’s OC is trying to accomplish …
… A key note I have about the Ottawa game is the use of Landers at QB. He only ran the ball when he got his select snaps. Of these snaps, all they ran were Quarterback power running plays, or a QB counter/power read. In essence Landers pulled, or kept the ball every time.
My Thoughts on the Game
I don’t think the Gryphons are as big underdogs as many people suggest.
The veterans on this team have already beaten Western three times in their careers. They were probably underdogs in all those games. I don’t think the Gryphons will be the least bit intimidated.
I don’t doubt that the defense will be ready to play and give the team a chance to win. I’m optimistic that the offense will produce. And, if there was any doubt, they proved in Week 2 they could play with the Mustangs.
James Roberts had one of his best games ever in that Week 2 match-up. In fact, he was having an excellent season prior to his injury in the Homecoming game. He was good last week and I think he will kick that up a notch in his second game back. I don’t think there is as much pressure on Roberts now that the Gryphons have a running game that really was non-existent in Week 2.
The Gryphons have dealt with many challenges and come a long way since Labour Day. They have at is the result of personnel changes, the O-Line gelling and I think they are in a good position to win.
* I have more to say (surprise!) but I’m headed out the door to the Tiger-Cats game in 10 minutes. Hopefully, I can add to this later tonight.
Recent Series History
Guelph has had competitive games with Western for the last decade but that changed in 2016 with a surprisingly one-sided game at Guelph’s Homecoming. But the fact this season’s game went to overtime suggests that result was an outlier. The past decade has included a 5-game losing streak from 2008 to 2011 and a 4-game winning streak from 2012 to 2015. Western leads the all-time series 46-15-12.
There hasn’t been a Yates Cup since 2006 without one of these teams in it and that will be true again this year.
2017 – 41-34 OT Western
2016 – 50-16 Western
2015 – 23-17 Guelph [Yates Cup]
2014 – 51-26 Guelph [Semi-final]
2014 – 49-46 Guelph
2013 – did not play
2012 – 42-39 Guelph
2011 – 33-29 Western
2010 – 15-8 Western
2009 – 41-39 Western
2008 – 47-16 Western
2007 – 31-17 Guelph
TV: Live on Rogers Cable 20 (Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford & Stratford) & Rogers Cable 13 (London)
Radio: Newstalk 1290 CJBK, including pre- & post-game coverage