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Volume 91, Issue 28

Friday, October 17, 1997

pigskin pummel


Mustangs look to dispel Gryphon myth

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
WILL WESTERN BE SERVING CURRI THIS SATURDAY? Coach Larry Haylor has yet to decide whether Oliver Curri [above] or Mike O'brien will be at the quarterback's helm in this weekend's big game versus Guelph.

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

The rehearsals are done, the reviews are strong, the crowd is stirring and tomorrow afternoon the Western Mustangs will need to put on the performance of the year as they head to Guelph to face the nation's only undefeated team.

With a 6-0 record, the Gryphons hold the country's number-one ranking, a deserving merit based on their offensive (190) and defensive (59) point totals – both are tops in the Ontario University Athletics division. Guelph has showed no signs of slowing down after hammering the University of Toronto last weekend by a 55-27 count.

"The problem we have in preparing for Guelph is they have multiple weapons," Mustang head coach Larry Haylor said. "They have a good mixture of pass and run plays, but their greatest ability is in their consistency."

On the ground, the Gryphons have three rushers who have accumulated over 200 yards. Leading the rushing attack is Jonathan Bohnert, with impressive eight touchdowns under his belt.

In the air, Guelph quarterback Nathan Body is making a bid for All-Canadian status – leading the OUA in passing with 1,386 yards and a 56 per cent completion rate for nine touchdowns, including a 109 yard touchdown pass to Scott Gordon last week to break the existing OUA record.

The two evenly-matched teams will likely count on the leadership and composure of their quarterbacks to determine the final outcome of the game and while Guelph already knows who will be running the offence, Western's picture is not as clear.

Fourth-year Mustang Oliver Curri, who earned the starter's job at the start of the season, has received mixed reviews. Curri has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5), but still collected 944 yards in the air.

After Curri got off to a slow start in last Saturday's 27-21 win over York, upstart sophomore kicker/quarterback Mike O'Brien replaced Curri and proved he can handle the pressures of university ball completing 10 of his 12 passes for 144 yards.

O'Brien showed no signs of stage fright and was extremely poised in his relief role. He adds a variable into the Mustang offensive machine which must be considered going into the Guelph match-up, but who will start on Saturday is up in the air.

"Both have been working hard this week in practice," Haylor said. "The competition is healthy, but a final decision on who will start has not yet been determined."

Guelph's head coach Dan McNally feels Western's quarterback situation will not change Guelph's defensive scheme.

"Western will come in with a game plan both QB's can operate under," he said. "O'Brien is a little more athletic but he didn't run around much in the York game, so we have prepared without concerning who will be at the quarterback position."

It will be an important game for both teams since the winner will likely walk away with first place in the OUA division and a guarantee of home field advantage through the first two games of the playoffs. The victor will probably also earn the number-one ranking and a huge confidence boost with the play-offs just around the corner.

Tomorrow's game at Guelph will get underway at 2 p.m..

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997