10 Things: OUA Week Two
Week two of OUA football wrapped up on Monday evening with a labour day rivalry matchup between the Western Mustangs and the Queen’s Gaels. It just doesn’t feel like a labour day long weekend without football, does it?
1) Clay Sequeira Clay Sequeira was back at it again this week with another extremely impressive performance for the Varsity Blues. Toronto won their matchup against the Windsor Lancers 54-26.
In his second outing of the 2019 OUA Season Sequeira showed everyone that his week one performance was no fluke. Against the Lancers Sequeira had fewer passing attempts, 27 compared to 50 in week one. Sequeira had 16 completions on 27 attempts for 455 yards, 6 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Varsity Blues QB also had 108 yards on the ground in 11 rushing attempts. In just two games Sequeira has thrown for 10 touchdowns and just shy of 1000 yards. Sequeira currently leads both the OUA and U Sports in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Sequeira is making an early case to be one of the top QBs in all of U Sports. Johnny Mox … I mean Clay Sequeira and the Varsity Blues hit the road in week three and will be travelling to University Stadium to take on the Laurier Golden Hawks.
2) Gryphons Bounces Back
After a tough 25-10 loss at the hand of the McMaster Marauders in week one, the Guelph Gryphons were heading into week two looking for their first win of the season.
The Gryphons travelled to the Nation’s Capital to face off against the number eight ranked Carleton Ravens.
Gryphons Head Coach Ryan Sheahan did get his first win as an OUA Head Coach as the Gryphons dealt the Ravens a 37-20 defeat.
The story for the Gryphons in this game was all about defence and special teams. For the second week in a row Gryphons rookie, Clark Barnes ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. In week 1 against McMaster it was a 100-yard return TD. This week against the Ravens, Barnes took the opening kickoff 106-yards to the house. The Gryphons defence also showed out in the win this week adding not one, but two defensive touchdowns on the night. Jared Beeksma returned an interception 31-yards for the touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Gryphons a 20-17 lead heading into half time.
In the third quarter A.J. Allen returned his interception 25 yards for the score to extend the Gryphons lead to 27-20 over the Ravens. Heading into week three looking to build off a solid week two performance the Gryphons will host the York Lions.
3) Merciless Merchant The defending Yates Cup champions played their first home game of the season on Monday evening. Hosting the Queen’s Gaels in a labour day rivalry showdown the Mustangs walked away with a 40-23 win. The Mustangs win came in large part off the arm of 4th year QB Chris Merchant. The Mustangs are traditionally a run first offence, especially against the Gaels. In the last 5 years the Mustangs have averaged 42 rushing attempts per game while averaging 292 yards on the ground per game vs. Queen’s.
On Monday night the run first narrative went out the window. The Mustangs only rushed the ball 33 times for 120 yards, paling in comparison to their aerial attack. Merchant completed 23 of 33 attempts for 355 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 10.8 yards per throw against the Gaels.
Merchant’s 355 passing yards are the most yards in the air he has had since week two against Guelph in 2017 when the Mustangs signal caller threw for 378 yards on 41 attempts.
Perhaps the Mustangs were trying to play mind games with their former Offensive Coordinator now Gaels Head Coach Steve Snyder. The Mustangs may have also felt that with the loss of feature running back Cedric Joseph going to the air more might be beneficial.
Merchant put on a passing clinic in the Labour rivalry game against the Gaels. Whatever Merchant is selling, I’m buying. No pun-intended. Ok maybe some pun intended.
4) Monstrous Matheson
What the four letter F word is a Gee-Gee?! We’ve all heard the expression and it's usually spilling out of the mouth of Carleton Ravens fans. No, Im not salty… as long as the Ravens stay on their side of the Rideau Canal. As a former Gee-Gee, let me clear the air.
A Gee-Gee is the first horse out of the gate in a horse race. That is exactly what Carter Matheson was for the Gee-Gees in their first game of the season. The 5th Year Wide Receiver was an absolute monster in the Gee-Gee’s week two matchup against the McMaster Marauders. The 6-3 210-lb receiver was all over the Marauders Secondary, finishing his day with 8 receptions for 144 yards and 1 touchdown.
In the closing minutes of the first quarter in the red zone, QB Sawyer Buettner dropped back and fired a pass deep into the end zone for Matheson who came down with the ball for a score. In just one week of action Matheson already finds himself as a top ten wide receiver in both OUA yards and receptions and is very clearly there favourite target of Gee-Gees QB, Sawyer Buettner.
Matheson had an impressive season in 2018, finishing with 664 yards and 6 touchdowns on 40 receptions. The Gee-Gees will go head-to-head this week with the Queen’s Gaels, who rank seventh in passing yards allowed through the first two weeks of OUA action. Expect Matheson to be heavily targeted against one of the softer Secondaries in the OUA.
5) Marauders D Stays Hot
Next to the Western Mustangs, the McMaster Marauders are looking more and more like the team to beat in the OUA this season. The Marauders advance to 2-0 on the season after a win at home and a measure of revenge against the uOttawa Gee-Gees.
Last season the Gee-Gees took the Marauders to the wire and walked away with a 18-11 win in Ottawa. This time around it was the Marauders who emerged with the win as they toppled the Gee-Gees 35-22. Just as it was last week against the Gryphons, it was the Marauders defence who played a large role.
The Marauders defence allowed just 73 rushing yards against the Gee-Gees. As a team the Marauders defence had an incredibly impressive day. The pass defence was equally as impressive, picking off the Gee-Gees for six total interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by 4th year LB Nate Edwards. Additionally the Marauders front 7 danced around the Gee-Gees offensive line for seven sacks. Two of which came at the hands of 4th year DB and East-West bowl selectee, Noah Hallett. The Marauders now lead the OUA in total points allowed (32), interceptions (8), and sacks (10). The most difficult test for the Marauders defence will come this Saturday when they go toe-to-toe with the defending Yates Cup champion, Western Mustangs.
6) Savoni Stays on Top
Jacob Savoni May not have been a household name at the beginning of the OUA season, but it is a name you need to know now.
Savoni is the running back for the Windsor Lancers and was named U Sports offensive player of the week after his week one performance in a 34-17 win against the York Lions.
The Lancers took a hard 54-26 loss to the Toronto Varsity Blues in week two, but Savoni remained one of the few optimistic takeaways from the game.
On 10 carries Savoni rushed for 61 yards and a 27-yard long run to set the Lancers up for a score early in the first. Savoni is a good runner who does not hesitate and hits the holes with confidence. While he is a hard runner he is also a patient runner who doesn’t try to force a hole that is not open. Instead Savoni does a good job of anticipating defensive pressure and finding a crease. Savoni’s ability to read and anticipate opposing defences is a big reason why he is currently the leading rusher in both the OUA and U Sports with 240 yards and 3 touchdowns on just the 10th most carries in all of U Sports (24).
In week three the Lancers will taking on the high-powered Waterloo Warriors on Saturday afternoon in Windsor at Alumni Field. Expect the Windsor offence to lean on Savoni once again.
7) Golden Hawks Confident in Carusello As the Laurier Golden Hawks travelled to Toronto to take on the York Lions, QB Connor Carusello started in his second consecutive game. Despite splitting time last season with Tristan Ardnt in 2018, it has been all Carusello for the Golden Hawks through the first two weeks of the 2019 OUA season.
The Golden Hawks advanced to 1-1 on the season following an 18-10 win over the York Lions. The Golden Hawks QB completed 17 of 29 passing attempts for 221 yards. In their matchup against the Lions Carusello connected eight times with receiver and 2019 East-West Bowl participant, Ente Eguavoen for 120 yards.
In his first two weeks of OUA action, Carusello has hit on 51 of 77 passing attempts for 581 yards and two touchdowns. Carusello’s performances through the first two weeks have landed him as the 4th ranked QB in the OUA heading into week three.
In week 3 three the Laurier Golden Hawks will play host to the Toronto Varsity Blues. The Varsity Blues allow just the 6th most passing yards per game in the OUA.
8) Love Affair at U of T
Another name you may not have heard, but most definitely should keep an eye on is Nolan Lovegrove, receiver for the Toronto Varsity Blues.
“Who is Nolan Lovegrove and why should I care?”
After the first two game of the OUA season Lovegrove leads all U Sports and OUA wide receivers in receiving yards with 287. Lovegrove also leads the OUA in yards per game (148) and receptions (15). Lovegrove also currently has 2 receiving touchdowns, which is tied for second most in both the OUA and all of U Sports. Lovegrove has been Varsity Blues QB, Clay Sequeira’s favourite target.
In his game against the Windsor Lancers, Lovegrove finished his evening with 161 yards and 1 touchdown on seven receptions. This was an improvement on his 8 reception, 135 yard, 1 touchdown outing in week one against the Waterloo Warriors. The 3rd year is a quick shifty receiver who excels at using his great route running and downfield speed. The Varsity blues are set to travel to Kitchener to take on the Laurier Golden Hawks, who have allowed the second fewest passing yards in the OUA through two weeks. It will be interesting to see how the Hawks plan to play Lovegrove, but I am excited for Lovegrove vs Hawks DB, William Amoah who was a 2019 East-West Bowl participant.
9) Ravens Defence Flying
The Carleton Ravens went into their week 2 two matchup against the Gryphons looking to build off an 18-12 week one win over the Queen’s Gaels.
The Ravens dropped their home opener 37-20 against the Guelph Gryphons. Despite what the score may indicate the Ravens defence kept the Ravens in the game for as long as it could. The Gryphons scored 21 of their 37 points on a kickoff return for a touchdown and 2 interceptions that were returned for a touchdown. The Ravens defence gave up only 278 total yards of offence to the Gryphons on 60 plays.
Over the course of the game the Gryphons averaged just 4.6 yards per play. The Ravens defence surrendered just 123 yards on the ground and gave up 159 yards through the air. The Ravens allowed just one offensive touchdown from the Gryphons on a late score from QB, Theo Landers. Through the first two weeks the Ravens defence has allowed the fewest total yards per game (284) and the fewest passing yards per game (145).
The Ravens defence also leads he OUA in tackles per game with an average of 56.5. The Ravens have a very strong defence that communicates well and rallies to the ball on every single play.
They play an aggressive front seven and like to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks to try and force them to throw into bad situations. The Ravens have one of the strongest defences in the OUA, but in order to have a successful season their offence will need to pick it up. Heading into week three of OUA actions the Ravens will be on their bye week, giving them an additional week to prepare for the Western Mustangs.
10) The Ptaszek Effect
Stefan Ptaszek is an offensive mind who loves to throw the ball.
Not only does Ptaszek love to utilizing a passing offence, he does it incredibly efficiently. Prior to Ptaszek’s departure in 2015, the McMaster Marauders finished first in passing offence twice from 2010-2015.
In that same five year span the Marauders also led the OUA in passing touchdowns twice. From 2010-2015 Under Ptaszek the Marauders never finished outside of the top 4 four in offensive passing efficiency, finishing first twice.
Now in 2019, Ptaszek is back at the helm calling plays for the Marauders and history seems to be repeating itself. Through the first two weeks of OUA action the Marauders are averaging the third most passing yards, passing yards per game and third most passing touchdowns. In Kyle Quinlan’s Hec Creighton winning season under Ptaszek the Marauders threw for 209 completions on 293 attempts leading the league with a 71% completion rate.
In the three seasons Ptaszek had away from the Marauders the passing offence had finished no better than 6th with a completion rate of 57%, completing just 157 passes on 244 attempts. With Ptaszek back at the helm the Marauders are leading the OUA in offensive efficiency with 54 completions on 78 attempts hitting on almost 70% of their passes.
It’s is evident that Ptaszek is an incredible offensive mind and knows how to scheme his offences into positions of success. The Marauders are set to face the Western Mustangs this Saturday, a game that has a bit of an early Yates Cup Championship preview vibe to it. A game that I have had circled, bolded, and underlined on my season scheduled.
Connor O'Neil is a former UOttawa Gee-Gee defensive back with a passion for Canadian Football and a desire to stay connected to the game.