Monday, September 10, 2007


From the looks and sounds of it, the D-line -- the big cats such as Osi Ukwuoma, Mitchell Carkner, Dee Sterling, Neil Puffer -- was an X-factor for the Queen's Golden Gaels in yesterday's rain-drenched 26-14 win over the Guelph Gryphons.

Every shot of Guelph's Justin Dunk posted in one online photo gallery seems to depict Guelph's elusive QB running like it was Judgment Day and he had 20 unpaid parket tickets to get off his conscience. Meantime, the good push by the front four helped hold Gryphons tailback Nick FitzGibbon to 27 yards rushing, 109 less than he had vs. Ottawa, which only led the CIS in run defence in '06.

The force unit vs. the opponent's offensive line is no master switch, but it raises hope for McMaster and Windsor the next two weeks. The Marauders haven't got the ground game out of second gear through the first two weeks and their QB, Adam Archibald, is a dropback passer, not a scrambler.

Windsor's Daryl Stephenson, who had to work for each one of the 85 yards (about 60 less than his average in '06) he got vs. the Gaels last season, was forced out vs. Laurier on the weekend with a hip pointer. Windsor's QB, Dan Lumley, can run around when healthy, but he also came out early due to an injury (the severity's not known at this point).

It won't come easy, but how does the Gaels being 4-0 entering a second half of two hoping-against-hopes vs. No. 7 Laurier and No. 3 Ottawa, then Waterloo and U of T sound? The Gaels were only a couple plays away from that last season. At the same time, there's almost a resistance to knowing the 2-0 record might result in an appearance in the CIS Top 10 this week. The underdog, no-respect vibe is always better. Besides, Calgary probably deserves to be ranked after throwing a scare into Saskatchewan.

It's early yet, but Guelph (0-2) seems to be pretty stout in the front seven in its own right. The Gaels' blocking moved the pile well enough for Mike Giffin to muck it out for 115 yards on 25 carries against a Guelph front seven that might be one of the better ones in the league, seeing as they also held down Ottawa's running game in Week 1. With Dan Brannagan, it seems like the CFRC radio guys are often saying, "pass is over the receiver's head" quite a bit, but he hooked up with Devan Sheahan and Rob Bagg on two long scoring passes and finished with 261 yards (8.9 per pass) on a rainy day. One hallmark of Pat Sheahan's offence is that the slotbacks see more long passes than the wideouts -- a tall inside receiver can create more mismatches against a defensive half or safety who likely isn't as fast as a cornerback -- and that appears to be back. Completion percentage is a bunko stat anyway.

Anyway, for a Gaels fan, it's all about keeping a humble exterior and extending to sincere best wishes to Western on its rebuilding year.

Comeback Kids do it again (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard)

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


Tyler King said...

You're so achingly right about the endless 'over his head' passes. Interestingly relevent to that point is this snippet from the Whig-Standard:

"In the first quarter we ran the same play and I was wide open in the end-zone. Danny just over threw me a bit that time. Coach had seen it before and made the call to run it again."

The question is - can you really survive a whole season as a second-half team? With Mac coming up next week, isn't a bit more risky against a team that actually has the talent to go for the jugular early? That's precisely how Mac managed to crush Queen's in the regular season last year, if I remember correctly.

Tyler King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler King said...

Silly me - the snippet relates to the Devan "Big Play" Sheahan catch and was actually from the queen's press release.

Howzabout that Queen's defence though? Thaine Carter in game one, Chris Smith in game two with standout performances, with a defensive line that just seems impossible to hold back. If not for a fluke long completion from Guelph late in the 2nd, they're holding the Gryphons to a 5-0 deficit after the half.