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Western ready to cook Gryphons
By Chad Thompson
The University of Guelph better have all the students in tents off the football field Saturday, because a stampede of Mustangs are scheduled to roll through.
The Western Mustangs football team travel up the 401 this weekend to battle the Guelph Gryphons. Western's head Coach Larry Haylor is not taking the task lightly despite the Gryphons 20-0 loss to the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks last weekend.
"Last week Laurier's defence stifled Guelph's offence," Haylor said. "[Gryphon quarterback] Tyson Beach is a good player who did not have a good day."
Haylor also said the defence is preparing both a good passing and rushing attack. "The team throws the ball in order to run the ball. They spread the field before they start running. I think [Beach, runningback Gerrit] Stam and how we cover the receivers are keys for us."
As far as Guelph's defence, Haylor said he is preparing for the tough front eight of Guelph. "Their front eight did a great job against Laurier," he said. "The defence kept [us in] the game although the score does not show it."
Guelph head coach Dan McNally said his team feels good despite last week's loss. "We are not too displeased with our play," he said. "We feel we are in good shape for this week. Western is a solid team, we just have to settle down and execute."
Defensively, McNally is focusing on the running game but is aware of Western's strong passing game with quarterback Mike O'Brien at the helm. "We have to figure out how to stop the run but another issue to deal with is Mike O'Brien," he said. "He has a strong arm and is very athletic he can quickly turn into a runningback."
Western's runningback Fabian Rayne said the team played poorly last week and feels this game will be a complete turn around. At the same time, he added he is aware of the strong Guelph defence.
"Their defence is tough and experienced," he said. "They have big linemen and really fast linebackers. Their defence is good even though they lost last week."
Rayne also said he feels the team started to play better as a unit at the end of the last game but said he feels in order to win, the Mustang's must play well from the opening whistle. "We have to click from the start and not just for one quarter," he said. "We have to take it to them 110 per cent right off the bat."
Rayne added his performance last week was not great, although he had solid statistics, carrying the ball 16 times for 121 yards. "If I get 40 yards and I gave 120 per cent than I would be happy. I don't really worry about stats, the better the offensive line plays the more yards we will get."
Guelph and Western have been rivals for years and Haylor said he is not too concerned about his team travelling to Guelph and playing in front of a hostile crowd.
"We go to a hostile environment and manage," he said. "We're ready. A lot of teams target us. I think it affects the young players because they do not understand why people have the desire to beat us and hit us hard."
When asked about crowd response, Haylor points to last year's Vanier Cup semi-final against Saskatchewan to display how his team thrives on the response.
"In Saskatchewan, the fans were on the track behind us," he said. "They were throwing snowballs and stealing things from our bench. To be honest our team kind of liked it. We have played in places a lot less friendly than Guelph and it has helped us."