The much-anticipated hires of two full-time assistant football coaches have been made at the University of Guelph.
Joining rookie head coach Stu Lang's staff will be defensive coordinator Kevin MacNeill, a former linebacker with the WLU Golden Hawks and head coach of the Guelph Bears in the OVFL, and offensive coordinator Perry Marchese, who brings CIS, CFL and OVFL coaching experience to the fold. Further details on both men can be found at the Gryphons website.
Despite their relatively young ages, the two men bring 22 years of coaching experience to the Gryphons, having succeeded at every amateur level, both as a coach and as a player. Going forward, their tasks won't be easy.
Marchese inherits an offence that while at times was one of the nation's most explosive units, fell apart down the stretch, struggling to establish consistency and momentum. Furthermore, Marchese will be working with an untested quarterback, likely second-year lefty Chris Rossetti, following the graduation of five-year star Justin Dunk. Familiarizing a raw, yet seemingly talented pivot with the OUA game presents a tall task for Marchese, and Rossetti will surely rely heavily on game-tested veterans Nick Fitzgibbon, Jedd Gardener, Jamie Shaw and Dave Harrison, who are all returning and succeeded with Dunk at quarterback.
On the defensive side of the ball, MacNeill will have a talented group to work with, yet one that struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard throughout much of the 2009 season. Key returnees include linebacker Adam Dunk, who has a striking likeness -- both physically and with his game play -- to MacNeill, along with defensive backs James Savoie and Sebastian Howard, linebacker Matt Rossetti and defensive lineman Grant MacDonald. The Gryphons secondary has the ability to create turnovers, but can also play themselves out of position, looking to make the big play. MacDonald will anchor a defensive line that was porous against the run and struggled to sustain pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Despite the Gryphons lack of experience at quarterback, I believe that MacNeill's challenges with the defence will prove to be far greater than Marchese's.
With three first-year head coaches and a number of difficult personnel decisions still to be made, the 2010 season may be a trying one for the Gryphons, especially if they struggle to come together as a unit in the early goings. With Dunk, Western's Michael Faulds and Queen's Danny Brannagan all having graduated, the quarterbacking landscape of the OUA has changed considerably and the Gryphs are not the only team in transition. With so much turnover, however, the new coaches will certainly have their work cut out for them.