Sunday, October 07, 2007


Learning the Queen's Golden Gaels lost 13-12 to unbeaten Ottawa on Saturday was like getting the first four digits right in the Super 7 lottery draw.

What's that worth, about a hundred bucks? That's how it feels for a fan. For a sweet spot in time Saturday, there was a scenario in play where the Gaels, not the Gee-Gees, were the lead horse in the OUA race. They led No. 2 Ottawa halfway through the fourth quarter and Guelph, in a game delayed by lightning, had the Laurier Golden Hawks down by 10 points in the second half in The Score's University Rush game.

Then it became something like Ben Stiller comedy that opened this weekend, The Heartbreak Kid, when he finds out that Swedish-Canadian beauty, Malin Akerman, isn't what he took her to be. The Gaels lost defensive back Jimmy Allin to injury and got a French figure skating judge type of spot (the crowd noted this) that turned a first down near the Gee-Gees' 20-yard line into a third-and-short that failed. That left the door open just enough for Ottawa to slip through on a Josh Sacobie-to-Cyril Adjeity 60-yard touchdown pass with 67 seconds left in the game and Mike Giffin, who had 163 yards and was much of the offence again, ended up fumbling when the Gaels were on the cusp of field-goal range.

The upshot is the Gaels played reasonably good defence for, what, 95 per cent of the game. Quarterback Dan Brannagan threw 24 times for 207 yards with no interceptions, the best he's done vs. OUA alpha dogs Laurier and Ottawa. Those are just solaces. There are issues with ball security (10 lost fumbles in six games, although, Laurier, paragon of precise offence, has lost 12) and scoring in the red zone. Two seasons of watching the Minnesota Vikings under Brad Childress has imparted a proper scorn for short field goals. Dan Village's three-pointer in the third quarter was a 13-yard chip shot. Get that close, it has to be seven points, not three; there are no answers here for why the Gaels can't score with consistency.

The way it often goes in sports is you find out too late what you're missing, but it's not too late; the optimistic feeling is the Gaels haven't peaked.

Anyway, this can't be viewed as a downward spiral. Ottawa had an off-day but the Gaels had a lot to do with that and just didn't do everything. All you can really do is have a good laugh, which is more than can be said for some of Ben Stiller's recent movies.

Other business:
  • The women's hockey Gaels got their first win at their temporary home in Napanee, 5-1 over the UOIT Ridgebacks on Friday, with Andrea Leblanc collecting four assists. It was the Gaels' only game of the weekend, so there's no excuse if they didn't go out to Napanee's Queen's Tavern afterward.
  • Claude Scilley of the Kingston Whig-Standard is the source for this, but Giffin is closing in on several Gaels rushing and scoring records. He needs 104 yards vs. Waterloo to eclipse Brad Elberg's single-year mark in the same amount of games that Elberg needed in 1992. Giffin's been great, but he would need about 40 more carries than Elberg did, which should tell you how good Brad and his blockers were during that championship season.

    Giffin's 144 rushes is also the heaviest workload in relevant memory for a Queen's runner; Paul Correale set the mark with 149 in 1996.
  • There's a post up at The CIS Blog about Chris Worden, the RCMP officer who was shot dead yesterday in the Northwest Territories. Worden, who was a fullback/special teamer for the Golden Hawks, would have played in the 2000 Laurier-Queen's game, if memory serves.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


Anonymous said...

As a Gee-Gee fan, who was at the game, I can tell you that the spot in question was bad. I can also tell you that they were doing this(bad spots)all day long. There were aso a few other bad or missed calls. We fans were already ranting and raving about it at half time. Both teams had plenty to complain about as it was not a well called game. However, that seems par for the course in the OUA in recent times, and it will not likely change soon. So we fans will just have to grin and bear it for now.
With Queen's giving Ottawa a hard time and Guelph doing the same to WLU, I think we can say a couple of things. One is that Guelph giving Ottawa a scare in week one was not a fluke. Two, the playoffs are going to be tough. I am very glad that Ottawa will likely get a bye now, because two games will be tough enough, let alone three.
And finally, number three, at least this year the eventual OUA champ will be toughened up by being in some competitive games before heading for the Bowl game. It had been said in past years that OUA champs were not well prepared for the Bowl game because they had not played enough competitive games, Not so this year.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Giffin seems to be drawing heat for that late game fumble. From where I was sitting it looked like a bad exchange between him and the QB and that Giffin never had full control of the ball. Hard to say who was at fault on the exchange.

Neil S said...

Neate, I hope you are right in saying that the Gaels have not peaked yet, although I can't help but think it's time we loyalists learn to accept that what we saw on Saturday is as good as we are going to get.

For most of the game the defense was solid, spectacular at times. The field position battle was well in hand, the opportunities there for the taking. The offense, sadly, just doesn't look like they have what it takes. It seems for every 2-yard hole Giffin turns into a 15-yard gain, we get two or three Brannagan balls sailing calmly five yards away from an open receiver.

The consistency is there, but not the consistency that anybody wants.

After the Western game I said to those around me 'you know, the defense was great, and if the offense could actually get their act together for more than ten minutes, they could really have something here'. Six games and six like conversations later, there appears to be little reason think they are any more than the CIS version of the Chicago Bears.

If the defense starts scoring touchdowns, they could really have something here.

I'd like to maintain my optimism. To me, celebrating the 100th Yates Cup with any school but Queen's hoisting the trophy would be tantamount to making a mockery of the anniversary. It is, however, getting hard to think that is a realistic possibility. Instead of a team that's a tweak or two away from being a power, it's looking more that they are a team that's just been getting lucky.

I hope I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

I can't disagree with your comments. Defense is busting their butts for the team and offense is putting up no numbers. No offense to the running game, Giffin is awesome, but why do they even have receivers? Plays are called from the bench and one receiver gets the call per game. A defensive game sucks in's worse in football. Let's see some game here!

sager said...

You know, the Rex Grossman comparison had come to mind, but that seemed like the worse thing to hang on Brannagan.

This could end up being like the '97 team that was 6-2 but didn't put up points for some reason.

Tyler King said...

Guys - Brannagan went 16 for 24. Two-thirds completion. Half his incompletions were tipped at the line, another two were dropped by receivers, leaving two overthrows. TWO. He was absolutely stellar.