Semi-Final Preview: Guelph @ Western

Taylor hurdle attempt

Western RB Alex Taylor makes the mistake of trying to hurdle Gryphon DB Mikey Carney

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 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. 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 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 … website: Weekend Watch: Conference Semifinals

No. 8 Guelph (6-3) at No. 2 Western (8-0)

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.

Flush the Mustangs

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

Broadcast Options

TV:  Live on Rogers Cable 20 (Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford & Stratford) & Rogers Cable 13 (London)

Radio: Newstalk 1290 CJBK, including pre- & post-game coverage


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4 Responses to Semi-Final Preview: Guelph @ Western

  1. Gryphon Fan (err Hater) says:

    As per usual Peter, you were once again dead wrong. The game was a disaster. Too bad.
    The Coach obviously did not have the team ready to play a perennial powerhouse. Embarrassing really.
    The Coach has a rookie bad habit of playing his favorites…not the “best” player. He is so inexperienced he succumbs to playing his “pals”…it shows.
    Great Coaches play the best player..period…no matter if he is a year 1 guy or a year 5 guy. A very successful NCAA Coach once told me when I asked him “how do you decide who plays?” He looked me in the eye and said “that’s easy..I play the best player..period, my income depends on winning and I have a family so I play the best player to help me win”. Wow. What a concept.
    When KMAC grows up and stops playing players who he considers pals, or who bring him coffee, or cut his grass or go drinking with him, the program will be way better off. He will also help his own career. “Rah Rah” does not win games and championships. He WASTED a great former team built by Coach Lang and now a great facility.
    The AD at the school has to make a decision, do I go on with this guy or cut bait? His record says the later. Cut bait and bring in a real, experienced, successful Coach who can being Guelph a Vanier Cup. The kids deserve it. The program has a world class feel……. but a bush league Coach.
    Time for you to be honest Peter…..facts are facts.

    • Nick says:

      I always respect people’s opinions and clearly you have a strong one, but I don’t respect hiding behind a username. You have made some bold claims, but I’m wondering what evidence you have to back them up or even some example of this happening. Which players played that you don’t think deserved to and who do you think should have played in their place? I could write an angry post about KMac using Eenie Meenie Miney Moe to picked who plays, but I don’t have any proof to back that up.

      Also, I’m wondering how the great facility has been WASTED as you put it. From my understanding, that facility is not going anywhere, which means it isn’t wasted in my opinion. It also opened up at the end of the season, which means there probably aren’t many recruits who chose Guelph based on it, yet. This year and years to come we should see the fruits of that investment. In my eyes, things are clearly looking up when it comes to the great facility.

      I think it’s also important to point out that it was KMac who coached the defense that got us a Yates Cup and that defense was a huge reason why we won it. The fact that we took Western to double OT this season says a lot our team. Western blew away every opponent they faced this year, including us in the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean every program should fire it’s coach and start over. Sure there are decisions throughout the year that I looked at as a fan and thought they should have done something different, but I don’t have all of the info that the coaching staff does on the players or the opposing team’s players. It is way too easy as a fan to look at mistakes in hindsight and criticize them, but it is completely different to make those calls in real time.

      Lastly, how many “real, experienced, successful Coaches” are out there waiting out there for a job. This Head Coaching job was posted publicly so these people had the opportunity to apply if they wanted it. The AD made the decision to hire KMac just a short ago, so I would find it highly unlikely that he is looking to make a change quite yet.

      I’m really interested on your thoughts on these points and I look forward to reading them.

    • Gryphon Fan, before you go accusing Peter about his blog again, let’s pause and reflect on the time and effort Peter puts into his craftsmanship to provide rare insights into the team. Provide me an example of a commentator be it a fan or someone who gets paid to share their opinion on tv who has it right 100% of the time. Sure there are always gimmie games, but sport can be like predicting the weather. In the USports market, which always is struggling to produce a fan base, we are very fortunate as Guelph Gryphon football fans to have a fan who has passion, dedication and love of his team to give us a weekly glimpse of his thoughts about the games and what’s going on in the offseason. Add on top of that the tremendous investment the University has made to this program (albeit a lot has come from one donor), you should treat your name on here with a little bit more respect.
      The past two seasons have been disappointing as a fan and I know the players and coaches feel the same. Losing a head coach and players to eligibility, injuries, etc has not made things easy after such a successful 2015 campaign. That being said, 2017 was technically KMac’s first season behind the helm. Sure he was the coach in 2016 but he did have the interim tag on his business card. As Nick amounted to, sure during the season there were a lot of times we didn’t agree with his decisions – giving up all those safeties and not trusting the USports First Team All-Star kicker we possess in our arsenal or not starting Johnny at RB from the beginning of the season. That being said, I don’t think it’s fair to start petitioning “fire the coach” when you look at KMac’s resume (a Vanier Cup winner as a player) and his winning record over the past two seasons. I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on who you believe would be a good fit to replace KMac. Maybe it’s this successful NCAA coach you looked in the eye once. The Greg Marshall’s of the world are far and few between. And as successful as Marshall has been, the Vanier Cup win on the weekend was ONLY his first as a head coach of 17 years. And that’s a fact.
      As lopsided as the semifinal game was, Guelph was the only team to come remotely close to beating Western this season. And the league took notice. You don’t take the Vanier Cup Champs to OT with a poorly coached team. The claim about a wasted former team and great facility was eloquently dissolved by Nick. In your eyes, explain to me how a poor head coach, underperforming team and wasted facility was able to recruit a top receiver from London, ON who only a year ago committed to Western but backed out. You just don’t recruit someone from the Purple Ponies’ backyard with a bush league coach and wasted facility.
      We all harness a little Couch Coaching on the inside. If you’re going to hide behind the keyboard without fact, let’s leave those thoughts to ourselves. Facts are facts, but you need them to support your argument. Otherwise you’re just reporting fake news.

  2. Birddawg says:

    Peter, thanks for another year of the Gryphon Blog – I really enjoy it. I went to the game in London and Western looked larger, more talented, and were ready to rumble. Western’s passing game was as good as any team in the history of CIS football – our D-backs were unable to defend. Notwithstanding Laurier, its hard to imagine that Laval will not succumb to the Purple Wave this year. I find it difficult to admit but I will be cheering for Western in the Vanier Cup – good luck Mustangs, and we’ll beat you next year!

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