It might just be the nervousness that comes when a favourite team is heading somewhere it hasn't been in a while. The Queen's Golden Gaels rolled up a 45-0 rout of the Waterloo Warriors at a packed Richardson Stadium on Saturday, clinching third place in the OUA, yet still it came with worries.
Waterloo is who we thought they were. The Gaels' defence gave up only seven first downs and 87 total yards, which is exactly one-third of what uber-back Mike Giffin gained by himself. Joe Paopao's Waterloo offence with its plethora of screen passes to 180-lb. wide receivers who aren't very fast didn't stand a chance.
Once the score hit 14-0, Waterloo's body language on the sideline -- slumped shoulders, hands on hips, a lot of standing around, no chatter -- broadcast that they were a beaten bunch. It made for a pretty carefree afternoon from a Queen's perspective, even for the hardcore football geek.
Alas, no one graduates from a university founded by Scottish Presbyterians without getting a sense that you can't have too much fun and frivolity before misgivings set in. The Gaels had a few nits to pick: They had 14 penalties for 169 yards and lost the ball three times in the red zone, including a Giffin fumble at the goal line and an interception by QB Dan Brannagan, although that was his lone blemish on his day. (Giffin's now carried the ball 168 times in seven games and had four lost fumbles in three weeks. Overuse?)
The penalties and turnovers create worrywartism on the part of a fan. It's going to be a lot harder to get away with that in a post-season matchup vs. Western, let alone an OUA semi-final against Laurier should the Gaels advance. Next week's near-automatic win over U of T probably won't provide reassurance. Then it's off into the great unknown, the first home playoff game since 2003 against the winner of next week's Western-Waterloo game.
All in all, this is just a non-football guy, being worried about what's out of his control. Saturday attested to the Gaels' ability. It wasn't so long ago that the Gaels were undersized and undermanned like Waterloo or Toronto. A team that's talented enough can overcome mistakes should almost be welcomed. Suffice to say, it's a nice kind of nervous as the playoffs draw closer.
- Not enough can be said about the work of the Gaels blocking backs, Trevor Potts, Tim Poffley (a converted linebacker) and tight end Scott Stinson. The 6-foot-6 Stinson had a season-high four catches for 55 yards, doing his part to reintroduce the tight end to the CIS.
Giffin reciprocated quite nicely on the Gaels' third touchdown drive. His downfield block on a third-and-12 gamble cleared enough space for Stinson to pick up the needed yardage after catching a short pass from Brannagan. Loved the choice to go for it on third-and-long from Waterloo's 30-yard line; it was out of the field goal range and too close to for a coffin-corner punt, so why not go for it?
- Heady times for backs from the west end of Kingston: Giffin, a Bayridge grad, is No. 2 in the CIS in rushing behind Jamall Lee of Bishop's, whose blocking back is Tim Cronk out of Holy Cross. And, of course, their coach is Leroy Blugh of Napanee.
- Does Gaels basketball coach Rob Smart know about 6-foot-10, 300-lb. rookie offensive tackle Matt O'Donnell? He's three inches taller than anyone on the hoops squad.
- Saw the drawings for the proposed new football stadium while haunting the VIP area. Very nice. (And thanks to friend of Out of Left Field, Dan Pawliw, for the beverage.)
- A full recap of the week is over at The CIS Blog.