Saturday, November 8, 2008

Playoffs Round One

Ok, first week of the playoffs. For the Edmonton versus Winnipeg game, I'm picking Winnipeg. I don't really like Winnipeg, and I'm not a particularly big fan of Kevin Glenn, however Winnipeg has been relatively hot down the stretch going six and two over their last eight. Edmonton, not so much. Plus it is in Winnipeg which should give something of an advantage there. Ricky Ray, I somewhat like, however he always seems to pass for a lot of yards without winning a huge number of games. A weak running game is part of that, and will probably hurt them at zero degrees celsius today.

BC versus Saskatchewan. I'll pick BC. I like BC's defence. Their offense, well, it is a bit more hit and miss, and with Buck Pierce constantly getting injured, you never really know. Saskatchewan, I like their defence, their heart and their coaching. Their quarterbacks and their many injured players? Again not so much.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Possible Revenge Against Durrant

So the Cats have their final road game of the year against Saskatchewan and only three chances left to beat last year's 3 and 15 record. Fortunately we can't get worse than last year, nor are we as bad as the 1 and 17 year (with Saskatchewan the only victory). Plus having been officially eliminated from playoff contention, the 25% off season's tickets for next year kicks in for this year's subscribers. That's some spin.

Normally I would go to the Cats site and look at the depth chart and various stats, however the CFL and the Ticats site is apparently down for maintenance right now. I know it is a bit early on a Sunday, but wtf? So this will be a rather stat poor look at the next game.

Frankly, I'm looking forward to this game, as the Riders are apparently starting Durrant as QB rather than the erratic Michael Bishop. In the Cats last meeting with the Riders, the Riders started Durrant in place of an injured Marcus Crandell. I was expecting the Cats to go after the relatively green (and not in the Rider sense) QB aggressively and hoped to see the Riders suffer from starting such a QB as Hamilton has countlessly over the years (hello Billy the Skid!). However it was still early in the season, I was naive and ignorant and still thought the Cats had a pass rush. Of course after a few more games, we learned that the Cats have no actual pass rush, just a bunch of rubes going through the motions. We still had a chance to win at that game, but we couldn't seem to put it together. At the time I mentioned that the key was a fumble near the end of the first half by Lumsden as the Cats were driving that led to a Saskatchewan TD. Man, we've sucked this year at scoring at the end of the first half and preventing our opponent from doing the same. Then at the end, the defence couldn't hold on and a big gain and controversial fumble by Dressler, followed by at TD and that was that. I really believe that that game was crucial and having won that game, we might have ended up with a few more wins and a chance at a playoff spot. So I'm really hoping the Cats do a number on Durrant and the Riders in revenge.

That seems somewhat unlikely, however the Riders have been doing quite mediocre after their 6 and 0 start. I'm assuming that Porters is starting again for the Cats at QB over Printers and Williams. I suppose we're still evaluating, but if Porters can light it up this game, the dump Printers movement in the offseason will grow in strength. If Porters is sucking early, I wouldn't mind seeing the other QBs get some action. At running back, Tre Smith and John Williams again I assume? Somehow I don't think the Cats will be running much. Get the ball to Rodriguez? Seems like a smart strategy. Plus I hope that Porters makes a few more runs rather than holding on to the ball forever trying to make the play. Admirable, but at a certain point, the chance of an interception or a sack goes up and a first down with your feet is the best option.

On defence, try and put some pressure on Durrant, I guess by blitzing with DBs and linebackers occassionally. Don't worry about getting burnt, you'll probably get burnt anyways as you'll have four idiots in zone surrounding Dressler who makes the catch and picks up twenty extra yards on shoddy tackling. That reminds me, this week, actually make some tackles. That is all...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Epic Montreal Fail

So once again, I'm late writing about a Hamilton loss. What else is new? After beating Montreal at home the previous week, Hamilton gets smashed in la belle province 42 to 11. Sacre bleu! Enough with the francais. It was ugly and somewhat disturbing.

First off, Lumsden apparently injured his arm, or he was already injured or whatever, but he left the game in the first half, got taped up, played a bit and now apparently needs surgery on the same left shoulder that was operating on before. But a different part. Again, I like the concept of Jesse Lumsden, it is just the execution that doesn't seem to be working. Kenton Keith also proved that all running backs are inherently injury prone (hello Terry Caulley!) by getting has arm slashed to the bone by a helmet or something and also having to leave the game. Leaving us with nonimport running back, John (no not the Star Wars guy) Williams. Quinton Porter managed to rush five times for 25 yards. Hopefully next year we will bring back our draft pick Mike Giffin a running back out of Queen's.

Anyways, we managed to stay in the game for a while, but the TSN turning point was probably in the first half, where we had the ball on the one and couldn't punch it in. We would probably have lost even if had scored a TD there rather than settling for a field goal, but it would have been a lot closer. I believe we also failed on a third and one sneak by Porter. Sad, sad, sad. Shouldn't by this point of the season, we would have learned to make the one yard plays? How lame is the push our offensive line gets for these plays? Interestingly, Montreal in the second half starting to go repeatedly on third down beyond a yard, often in a passing formation (although then they would promptly run it up the gut of a flabby Ticat D). If you have a good offense, this statistically is a good strategy. Teams in the CFL are too cowardly on third and short (apart from the Cats who should be afraid).

Porter was mediocre this week, going 17 for 25 for 167 yards and two interceptions. Porter didn't look like the second coming this week, but his receivers didn't seem to do much for him. The play calling seemed a bit wonky, with Davis catching five passes for a whopping 28 yards. I guess they were testing him and out and it turns out he sucks. Prechae only caught three passes for 30 yards, although Montreal may have realized covering him closely would pretty much shut Hamilton down. So the offense was crap, although not as crap as the defence which was pretty much beyond shitty.

The defence was crap. What happened to the strong run defence from last week? Nonimport Dahrain Diedrick ran for 127 yards with only 15 carries, in place of the suddenly injury prone Avon Cobourne (it's not just us!). A lot of that was some shoddy tackling and the fact the Cats were petrified of the strong Montreal pass offense. Cavillo passes for 371 yards with three TDs and one interception, going 33 for 41. As per usual, the Cats got little pressure (although they did get one sack) and there was a festival of shoddy tackling down field, often leading to extra yards extending the drive. Ben Cahoon caught 13 passes for 164 yards as the Cats refused to make contact with him at the line of scrimmage. Not a lot more can be said.

The Cats have a long ways to go to compete week in and week out with Montreal. Although they split the home and home, so over the past two games they are 500. Next week is Saskatchewan, who they should have a realistic shot at, even at Taylor Field.

Monday, October 13, 2008

At Montreal, Two in a Row!

The Cats in Montreal on Thanksgiving, following up a win in the Hammer powered by a remarkable Quinton Porter. Continuing the holiday theme, does Porter become a pumpkin in Montreal or does he continue to amaze and nail Casey Printers to the bench? Obviously the Cats aren't favoured to win two in a row, as they haven't done that all year (ok so they have only had two chances). Montreal is again favoured by 12.5, similar to last week. The Cats may cover, is about as much as I'll predict knowing this group.

The depth chart is somewhat strange on the offensive side. Porter is listed to start, with Printers backing up, which in normal circumstances would be a bit strange, but with the Cats almost mathematically eliminated, not surprising (although I would like to see Printers again just to get a sense of what he can do). At the other slotback position, C. Davis (who dat?) is starting with Bauman backing up and Woodcock starting at wide receiver. Apparently Bellefeuille had Davis when he was a co-ordinator at Montreal and likes him. O'Neil Wilson two?

Both Kenton Keith and Jesse Lumsden are listed in the running back depth chart (with Williams inexplicably listed as the starter). We'll get to see going forward if this would work out next year. One has to wonder if there is room for both Jesse and Casey next year. My odds for Jesse to play the remaining four games this year? Ten percent. I wonder how much the Cats will bother running, as Porter seems to like to hang in there and throw. No doubt the Cats will get behind early, and that will be it for the running game. Too bad, as I think it can be effective, mixing it in and our line is still pretty mediocre at pass blocking.

On defence, similar to last week with Anthony at end again and Siskowic at middle linebacker. Cavillo completed a record 42 passes against the Cats last week (mostly short yardage shit) and still lost. I can't think we can allow that many passes again. Cavillo is old and crotchety, we have to get to him and make him pay the price for completing a pass. Maybe he'll hurt his thumb or his wife will get cancer again. Oh snap! Yes Anthony, your time in Hamilton has not been forgiven and I would enjoy nothing more than seeing you injured for the rest of the season and Montreal lamely ending their season with whoever loser backup they have ensconced at QB now.
Hamilton has suffered from the football Gods for too many years now, I demand someone else suffer.

One last point, with a victory in any of the remaining four games, we surpass our win total from last year. Soft bigotry, low expectations, you know the drill...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So the Cats manage to win one behind a superlative perfomance by Quinton Porter at QB. I will admit that last week against BC, I was concerned that Porter may not have been that great after all. Going a remarkable 27 for 32 for 427 yards with 5 TDs, Porter looks like he is the starter next year. The only question is whether to release Casey Printers and his big salary during the offseason, or keep him around as a possible backup. With Richie Williams you in a sense already have a decent backup, but I have a feeling the Cats are leaning towards keeping Printers.

Prechae Rodriguez had another monster game with 12 catches for 198 yards with 3 TDs. If he stays hot, he could be a candidate for rookie of the year. Bauman was also solid with six catches for 73 yards. The line minus a departed Marko Cavka also looked surprisingly good, giving up only two sacks.

On defence, the Cats as per usual gave up a lot of passing yards, 468 in fact, but a measly 10 on the ground. Siskowic looked good at middle linebacker with six tackles and a sack. Chris Thompson had yet another interception for a total of seven on the year. Frankly some of the fumbles the offense made made it harder for the defence in this game and we could have locked it down earlier. Kudos though to the defence for not folding at the end.

Looking to next week in Montreal, it will probably tougher there and the Cats may not be able to count on such a quick start. Hopefully Porter will look good again, further solidifying his hold on the starters position.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Montreal, Close or a Beating?

So just a few quick comments on the game against Montreal today. Porter starts again at QB and Williams remains in purgatory. Printers? Who knows the score with him. Kenton Keith is listed to start, with Caulley I guess gone for the season. Is he more injury prone than Lumsden? Ernest Jackson is in for Mitchell at the other slotback position besides Tony Miles. Mitchell has been pretty ineffective this year so lets see what Jackson can do.

On defence, Cornelius Anthony is listed at defensive end, with Siskowic at middle linebacker. McKay is at the other end spot with Kashama backing him up. I assume these things are fluid, so you will have to watch people coming in or out.

For the Cats, I think the only option is to go after Cavillo aggressively and try and make him pay for each dropback. Hammer Cobourne if you can too, as he is starting to look a little injury prone himself. On offence, don't throw interceptions for TDs early and get behind. Keep running, and if the QB sees a guaranteed first down via a run open up, take it. The Cats probably have no chance without the QB running for 100 yards. I fear another beating, but maybe the balls will bounce our way for once.

Friday, October 3, 2008

BC Debacle

Ok, so I've waited a while to make a post about the BC game. Obviously when you get smoked 40 to 10 there's not a lot to say. The most pertinent stat is the ten sacks given up by the Cats offensive line. OT Marko Cavka again was released by the Cats after the game, likely for real this time, although apart from staking out his apartment and making sure he has moved out, there's always the chance that the Cats will put him back on the roster. I'm guessing the Argos won't pick up Cavka. I'm not sure that Gerald Davis, his import replacement will do much better, but BC does have by far the best pass rush in the CFL. Quinton Porter was 14 for 27 for 144 yards with a TD and two interceptions. The early interception hurt, however Porter never had much of a chance. He also ran for 39 yards on six carries. Frankly Porter moves better than I would have thought for a 6'5" guy and if the Cats were going to have any chance, the QB is going to have to run. At 5.333 yards per pass attempt, a QB run is likely your best option.

Bauman had not a bad game stat wise with five receptions for 65 yards. The other receivers not so much, with a few drops literally sprinkled in. Kenton Keith didn't do much either in his first game.

On defence, they went after Buck Pierce with blitzes, but couldn't knock him out of the game, as really their only hope was to get to Jarious Jackson and hope he sucked. Nonimport Ray Mariuz had a nice sack. Chris Thompson had an interception and a couple knockdowns if I recall. Not much to say, apart from the fact that our defence is crap.

I watched the first half of the Saskatchewan Calgary game and I noticed that Chris Getzlaf made a few catches. Didn't we trade him in one of those magic bean trades a couple of years ago?

I also watched the Toronto BC game and was disappointed that the Argos kept it close. There's always next year I guess...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

BC Half Time Update

Just a few thoughts after the half.

O'Neil Wilson? Can't catch crap in Hamilton, makes multiple catches for BC in the first half. Wtf?

Porter has made a few nice runs, however I think he's stayed a little too long in the pocket for others. Of course two interceptions, perhaps he's not the next saviour.

I like the Cats going after Pierce and trying to knock him out of the game early. Hasn't worked, but I like the strategy.

Yet another third and one we should have gone on in hindsight.

Would have liked to see a bit more runnnig, but now that we're well behind again, well. We're not going to see it.

Hamilton wins the time of possession. Yippee.

In the preceeding Argo game, I saw Jonta Woodard starting at left tackle for the Argos. Wow the Argos are hurting if they're starting him.

Another Crushing Loss on the Horizon

The Cats are in Vancouver to face the of late hot Lions, who smashed the Cats at Ivor Wynne a few weeks ago. The Lions are 13 point favourites this game, which I think may be somewhat generous. All signs point to a blowout, but there is always a chance.

Casey Printers will aparently not face his former team, due to a wonky ankle. Quinton Porter will get the start over Richie Williams. Obviously the Ticat braintrust thinks Porter may be the real deal and if he can show he is over the next few games, Printers might be jettisoned over the offseason. Unfortunately for this game, I don't think the BC Lions are the best team for Porter to start against. The Lions front four on defence, led by Cameron Wake are a load. Porter is the least mobile of the Ticat QBs, when the recipe for success for the Lions is to constantly roll out of the pocket, preferably to the side of the field away from Wake. We'll see what Porter is made of this game.

The Lions were rather successful the last go around against the Cats running game. This time, the Cats may have to keep at the running game, even if they get stuffed a few times early. Certainly the biggest draw for this game is how Kenton Keith will do. Situations like this with limited practice for a player don't often generate successful outcomes, but Keith is an exciting player. Hopefully the Cats will be able to utilize his receiving abilities. With both Lumsden and Caulley injured, Tre Smith will get to show his stuff. For the receivers, the standard four are listed as starters on the depth chart, Rodriguez, Mitchell, Bauman and Miles. Tigercatatonia favourite JoJo Walker is on the practice roster. New signing and former Lion and apparent friend of crackheads Josh Boden is listed on the depth chart. Hopefully he doesn't get mixed up with some of the denizens around Ivor Wynne.

On defence, interior lineman Tory (don't call me Victoria) Collins has been released and imports Terrence Patrick and Darrell Adams occupy the middle of the line. At ends, newcomer Alain Kashama (who had a sack last week) and McKay-Loescher, both nonimports. Kania, another nonimport backs them up. In some ways, it is good the Cats can start two nonimport ends, but the fact the Cats have not found a decent import end by this point of the year is rather damning. I know the Cats traded for Kashama, who is probably better than the import stiffs we've had at end this year, but still.

For the rest of the defence, it is fairly standard. Anthony at middle linebacker, Robinson at safety and Tisdale in as a DB. For a 2 and 10 team, the linebackers and secondary have been somewhat stable. Of course, one would think they would have developed some synergy by this point in the season, but hey, it's the Ticats.

Talentwise, the Cats are overmatched, both imports and nonimports. Frankly I think the only strategy the Cats could follow to allow them to win is to get to noted glass man Buck Pierce, who makes Jesse Lumsden look like Cal Ripken. The Lions have sucked with Jarious Jackson in at QB, so blitz Pierce early and drive him into the turf any time you can, even if you take the odd borderline roughing the passer call. Otherwise, Pierce will just rip apart the Cats in the middle. Otherwise, a long tedious game...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Its Raining Running Backs

Well the Cats have signed former Colt and Rider Kenton Keith. According to Perry Lefko of Sportsnet,
Keith will average 175K for 2009 and 2010, plus incentives. I would love to see the particulars of that contract. Considering the Cats probably have some caps space remaining after shipping out Moreno and not receiving a player back, I hope the Cats front loaded his contract and maxed out the cap space this year to leave room for next year. If the Cats release Casey Printers in the offseason and go with Richie Williams and Quinton Porter at QB next year, hopefully we can sign some impact free agents next year, preferably on defence and perhaps a superior offensive lineman.

With regards to how this signing affects Lumsden, Caulley and Smith, that depends on what the Cat braintrust thinks about the future of Lumsden. Keith I think likely has more upside than Caulley, as he's been a decent receiver threat in the past. I love the concept of Lumsden, however the fact that he is often injured would not break me up too much if he left. I would prefer the Cats did not trade him this year and at least made an honest effort to sign him next year. Even with Keith, all running backs get injured (look at Cates for the Riders, Cobourne for Montreal, and Caulley this week for Hamilton). Having Jesse next year as perhaps not the defacto starter might take a little pressure off him and last longer throughout the season. If he is backing up next year, his nonimport status can be useful if a nonimport starter gets injured for a game, as Jesse can start that game. I'll be curious to see if Lumsden can break his rushing total for last year, 743 yards. He's at 586 yards now with six games to go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Close, Yet So Far

So the Cats have found new and improved ways to lose with a 25 to 23 lose to the moribund (but better than us) Winnipeg Bluebombers via a muffed field go at the end of the game. That pretty much blows our playoff chances, as the Bombers are now up two games and have won the season series. At least Toronto looks like they are imploding even worse than we are.

If I had to pick a TSN turning point, it would Tony Miles' fumble in the first half. The Cats had recovered the ball after a punt via a Cameron Siskowic forced fumble on the Winnipeg 40. After a 13 yard completion Miles fumbles it, giving away a chance for Hamilton to get up early against a rather hapless Bomber team. I don't care if you live in Burlington Tony and read your community newspaper, you have to hold onto the ball.

Printers was pretty mediocre in the first half going 8 for 19 for 110 yards and running twice for 24 yards. Porter looked good coming in relief in the second half going 11 for 17 for 183 yards and running twice for 32 yards. It is too bad at the end that Porter couldn't get it in the endzone, but they certainly had the chance to send it into overtime. Porter certainly looked poised in the pocket and seemed to have way more time there than Printers. With Porter looking like a veteran rather than a frightened rookie, the Cats next year could release Printers and his now ridiculous 400K salary and go with Williams and Porter and use that money to improve the team.

Once again for the receivers, Rodriguez was the hero with six grabs for 136 yards including a TD. Apparently Bauman has a concussion. Caulley was fairly mediocre, only running for 46 yards on eight carries, however the Cats never really looked like they wanted to run the ball. However he had three catches for 34 yards.

On defence, nonimport linebacker Ray Mariuz is looking better with seven tackles. Anthony once again didn't look bad in Moreno's place at middle linebacker. The line looked like they had a bit more pressure with new pickup Alain Kashama getting a sack, but still has a ways to go.

The end result is the Cats lose and the season is for all intents and purposes done. There's always next year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crap versus Crap

Hamilton versus Winnipeg, the battle of the basement, the return of Moreno, etc., etc. Strangely Hamilton is still in playoff position and get can tied with Winnipeg for third in the East with a win. With the way Toronto seems to be imploding, if Hamilton got hot there is a chance for the playoffs. Let's face it though, Hamilton is quite unlikely to get hot this year. They may play well, but they'll find a way to lose. Perhaps I'm a little jaded.

Anyways, Winnipeg has looked somewhat better of late, although I think if the Cats could find a way to get ahead, Winnipeg could easily collapse. I'll be curious to see how Moreno does and Anthony for Hamilton in his place at middle linebacker. Hopefully the defence can play like they did last week (apart from failing miserably on second and long). At least the secondary is looking better and I'm hoping new signing nonimport Alain Kashama can do something at end. He had eight sacks last year for Montreal, so he's not a total dud and probably good for the ratio.

On offense, hopefully less interceptions by Printers, hopefully Printers runs for a few cheap first downs and Caulley does something running the ball against a tough Winnipeg front four. I think the Cats have a fairly decent offense right now so this game is certainly winnable.

Finally, so long to Ron Lancaster and thanks for bringing us another Grey Cup. During your later coaching years I certainly made some complaints, however the crap you had to deal with and the uebershit of what followed, well I'm sorry. Maybe the Cats can find a way to win tonight and I'm also sorry you didn't get a chance to see the Cats turn it around. Go Cats!

Edmonton Game

Well it was exciting, I'll say that for it. Certainly the team improved from the BC game, but this team still doesn't know how to win. They were definitely close at the end and like so many times this year, failed critically on second and long. Sure some of those are going to get completed against you, but the Cats seem to be the master at giving it up.

Printers had four interceptions, but so did Ray, maybe it was just that kind of night. Printers only going 14 for 30 for 213 yards for a very mediocre completion rate, but conversely he ran 11 times for 120 yards for numerous first downs. So for me that kind of balances out the completion rate. The line played well this week, sans Jonta Woodard no less (did the Argos really pick him up? What are they doing? How is it we have a worse record?). Lumsden injured again. I like the concept of Lumsden, but I'm starting to get a little tired of waiting for him to play. Caulley was ok. Receivers not too bad either.

On defence, couldn't stop them when it counted but not bad. Four interceptions with several for TDs, the defensive line even had a few sacks (Patrick with both) with some pressure. Cornelius Anthony did well replacing Moreno. I think he has a bit more speed and it wasn't like we were lighting up the league with Moreno. I still don't have a lot of love for Denny Creehan...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moreno Gonzo

After the booting of Charlie Taeffe, I certainly was surprised to see Moreno moved to Winnipeg (a divisional rival and in theory a rival for a playoff spot) for DE Tom Canada and a Canadian currently on the Bills practice roster (Corey Mace). Then Canada says he would rather retire and surf in California than report to Hamilton. Then Canada has an enlarged spleen and goes on the nine game disabled list. Finally the trade is reworked, where Hamilton gets Winnipeg's first round pick next year for Moreno and we get
the rights to Mace, a defensive tackle, and we send a conditional third round pick if we sign Mace. Uh,
magic beans?

One thing I will say first is that CFL trades are notorious for being somewhat meaningless in the long term. Certainly one team can lose immediately and the other team can get some results for a year, but after a year or two, often no one involved in the trade is still in the game. With regards to Moreno, I am sad to see him go, however let's face it, the Cats have been crap the past season with him. Last year, he was a force, but this year I often found myself blogging about the need for Moreno to have a big game for us and unfortunately it didn't really seem to happen. During last week's game, BC was repeatedly able to pass into the area that should have been covered by the middle linebacker. He will be 30 soon and there is certainly the possibility that after two more seasons he's not playing in the CFL anymore. Receiving Canada back, as was going to originally going to happen, would have strengthened the defensive line, which certainly needed it, although it seemed pointless to weaken yourself at middle linebacker to do it. Personally, I feel we should have done what Winnipeg did and signed Kai Ellis, a salary cap cut from Montreal to bolster the defensive line and forget this trade (and let Winnipeg rot with the fact they've lost two middle linebackers to injury).

What happens at middle linebacker now? Cornelius Anthony I guess. I'm a bit afraid to see what Ricky Ray does to that this week.

The one positive thing I see coming out of this week, has to do with the Argos firing coach Rich Stubler and hiring Don Matthews. If Hamilton can get him signed next year as the defensive coordinator, that may be an important step in leading us to the promised land of 9 and 9 (ah the soft bigotry of low expectations). Plus we can get rid of Denny Creehan (yes Dennis may be a shitty name, but man up and go by Dennis than rather Denny fuckwit). Don't know what the Don will mean to Toronto.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Taeffe Gonzo

So the Cats ended up turfing Charlie with eight games to go. I was more of the persuasion to keep him until the end of the season until last weekend's debacle. At that point I wondered about the fact that with Charlie knowing he would be gone at the end of the season, what motivation did he have to evaluate talent for next year? Promoting the offensive coordinator at least saves on the extra salary you would have to pay for a new interim guy.

So the Taeffe era ends as an utter failure. Probably the seeds were sown with the coordinators he picked in his first year who had little CFL experience. No doubt he was saddled with some mediocre talent in both years, but there was little evidence that some skilled coaching was going on either.

Not sure what this means for next year and I'm guessing the Ticat brass doesn't know now either. I suppose the new coach could go five and three down the stretch and impress for next year, but I think we all know that's not going to happen.

Anyways, see you Charlie. Ass, door, you know the drill.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stench Squared

Wow, there's really not much you can say about that game. Certainly not a play you can look back on that if changed would have won the game. I suppose the early interception for a TD tossed by Printers was a turning point that helped get the game going in the wrong direction.

Printers' salary really looks like an albatross now. Either he renegotiates it down in the offseason, or we go with Richie Williams and Porter next year. Right now, I probably prefer the second option.

Marwan Hage seems to get love in the Spec as being a good player, but I've seen enough bad and mediocre snaps the past few games to wonder if he needs to pay less attention to his charity and his sartorial excellence and more to his gameplay. I can't imagine the kids like seeing the team sucking repeatedly.

Fortunately, both Toronto and Winnipeg lost today, so theoretically the Cats could be right back into it with a victory over the Eskimos this week. Frankly that disturbs me.

Article on sports, recession and oil.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The BC Game

I'm on my way now to the game, so I don't have much of a chance to say anything too elaborate.

BC leads the league in interceptions and sacks, so one benefit for the Cats is that since they are run oriented team, BC's strength isn't such a problem.

The other factor is BC QB Buck Pierce. Probably the most injury prone player in the CFL today. I say blitz him and hope he sprains something silly early and then go after whoever is next.

Looking forward to seeing the new line in action.

Go Cats

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Musings

Sadly, Tigercatatonia whipping boy and mediocre tackle Jonta (he may have an apostrophe in his name, but I'm not using it) Woodard was released after the Labour Day game, due to general overall suck. Apparently, as a five year vet, if had played in his next game, the tenth of the season, he would have been guaranteed his salary for the rest of the year. Ouch. That's what I love about football, the lack of sentimentality, the knowledge that some players will soon be filling out applications at their hometown Denny's. Incidently, Woodard also had two holding calls and a procedure called against him in the last game.

In his place returns the recently cut Marko Cavka. So I guess his release was somewhat BS after all. Welcome back Marko. I'm sure in about two years people will be calling for your head as well.

In other offensive line news, import tackle Charles Thomas is injured for the next tilt and will be replaced by year long practice squad import denizen Gerald Davis. Not sure if this is a good development or not. We'll have to wait for the next third and one and see how it pans out.

A lot of focus was on the stuffed third and one opportunity the Cats had at the end of the game. I'd rather talk about another third and one in the first half. At 6:35 in the second quarter, the Cats had a third and about a foot from what I saw on their own 22 yard line. There's probably some conventional wisdom that you should punt in such a situation. However, punting with the ball being hiked at the 22 is likely going to result in some good field position for the other team, unless there's a real monster punt. With only about a foot to go, there's probably an excellent chance of making it and continuing the drive. Sure in rare instances, you might turn it over. However on the punt itself in rare instances, you might get a big return too and leave you where you started, minus an attempt at making the first down. In hindsight, we know what happened, Dorsey returned a decent Setta punt to the 25, leading to an eventual Argo TD. Unfortunately, with more hindsight, we know also about the third and one at the end of the game that failed. There's been numerous other third and ones that have cost the Cats recently, including two in the Winnipeg game. The Cats have to make these plays and the coaches have to make sure third and one conversion opportunties are made at a high rate. For a running team, this is doubly important, as third and ones occur far more often than for a passing team. On passes, especially after second down, you are far more likely to be either short a number of yards (incompletion) or make the first down by a decent margin. Winning teams make their third and ones. Unfortunately the Cats haven't, so it is no surprise they are two and six.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Put Away the Brooms

A few quick comments before I do further analysis. First off, why did Ticat staff force the removal of the large Vandershank sign in the East endzone? I thought that was a pretty good sign and classless of the Cats to remove it.

At the end of the half with the Ticats trying to kick a field goal, I said, knowing the Cats past history, that barring a disaster, the Cats would get points and that the Argos wouldn't get any before the half ended. I was pleased. Of course the Cats manage to get the field goal blocked in such a manner that it flies upfield and an Argo can return it to help the Argos make a field goal before the half is done. Could have been a different outcome of the game if the Cats had gone into the half with the lead. Sometimes it seems that the Cats just don't get the bounces.

Nice to see Lumsden get 104 yards on 15 carries in his return from injury. I just hope his ankle is ok after this game. On track for over 1000 rushing yards on the season if he can stay healthy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labour Day, Get out the Brooms

With the Ballard Cup safely secured already, the Cats today go for the series sweep. In eight games, the Cats have only beaten the double Blue and are three point favourites. The Argos seem to be in a fair amount of turmoil going into this week, with the trade of Michael Bishop and the release of veteran Orlando Steinauer and the rumored return of the Pinball as coach. With a Cat victory, the Cats will move into second place at three and six, tied with the Argos on points and ahead because of the season series.

So the Cats will start Printers at QB, with Caulley listed as the starting tailback and Lumsden as the starting fullback. Not sure what to make of that, although for ratio purposes, if Lumsden starts at tailback and a Canadian at fullback, another starting import spot opens up. However the Cats import talent is so weak, there's nobody who obviously demands to be switched in. Perhaps they will limit the amount of times Lumsden gets the ball to ease him back from his injury. I can't see him doing a lot as the fulltime fullback as he has never seemed to be all that great at blocking. I guess we'll see what happens. I hope Printers has been studying Williams play the last few games and tries to get some first downs with his legs. The Argos are good at making interceptions, stopping a QB run, not so much.

With Tony Miles back, apparently somewhat not injured, JoJo Walker does not start at slot, however Scott Mitchell still does. I guess the Ticats like his size. I'm amazed that he is the Cats leading receiver yet doesn't seem to make much of a difference in any of the games so far. I assume JoJo will come in for five and six receiver sets.

On defence, it looks like both Rontarious Robinson and Jykine Bradley will start which is a good sign. Newcomer Tory Collins will start at defensive tackle as the Cats continue on their quixotic quest for a defensive line that can get some pressure. Apparently he's from the ambiguously named Northwestern State, which is in Louisana. I'm guessing they have no Nobel Prize winners there. Good gumbo in the cafeteria maybe.

I'm not sure what to make of the rejigged Argos defence. It will probably be better against the run. On offense, a lot depends on what kind of game Kerry Joseph has. The Argos will probably abandon the run for no evident reason in the second quarter.

Good luck Cats. Three and six here we come!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Timmy, we hardly knew ye

So erstwhile Ticat saviour Timmy Chang has been released by the Cats. And then immediately picked up by Winnipeg. Having seen the Riders smothering Kevin Glenn in their victory over the Bombers, it is probably only a matter of time before the call starts to go out in the Winnipeg fan forums to give Timmy a chance. Good luck Timmy. For a Cat who never really did anything, I always hoped you and your superlative NCAA stats would do something.

In other news, perhaps a little more surprising, offensive tackle Marko Cavko was released (and totally too, no practice roster bullshit) before the Labour Day game. I guess we're going with Jonta Woodard and Charles Thomas at the tackle spots and I have no idea who is backing them up. No one really seems to know why Cavka got released. Seems odd considering how mediocre Woodard and Thomas are. I guess we will get the Cavka equivalent for this year when another tackle joins us after the NFL cuts are done, only to get cut half way through the season next year.

I watched a bit of the Riders game today and Bishop does what Bishop does: ride a good team defence to victory with less than a 60% completion rate. I really thought the Riders would bomb out the rest of the season with Crandell in charge along with all their injuries, however Riders GM Eric Tillman made a surprisingly good move. Don't look for Bishop to do much in the playoffs though. Hopefully the Riders will beat the Bombers next week in the Peg, giving the Cats a chance to break free from fourth place. Timmy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Assorted Ramblings

I just watched the last third of the Lions Alouettes game and I was shocked that Lions QB Buck Pierce (who has my infamous stamp of brittleness) was able to make it through the entire game, including a nice drive at the end. Of course the Lions managed to botch numerous tries on the one to get the winning TD as time expired, with some mediocre play calling. The Cats have the Lions at home after the Labour Day game. Perhaps if the Cats can get the brooms out, sweep the Argos, and then follow it up with a another win. One can dream.

In the Spec today, Steve Milton says that Printers, Lumsden and guard George Hudson will all play. I would expect Lumsden to play somewhat sparingly, with Terry Caulley getting plently of reps. With Hudson back, the ratio situation should settle down. I'm curious to see who of the three import offensive linemen will start: Jonta Woodard, Charles Thomas or Marko Cavka. I would prefer Woodard sit as he doesn't seem to have it anymore. Whether he ever did is a question. Safety Sandy Beveridge and cornerback Rontarius Robinson are injure however. Beveridge being injured isn't that big a deal, however losing Robinson hurts.

Still no word on the Cats' eighth overall pick Samuel Giguerre and whether he will stick in Indianapolis. The Cats could at least use him on special teams.

Finally, there's been a lot of talk of what city should be the next CFL expansion team after Ottawa hopefully comes back. There's talk of Quebec, Halifax and even Moncton or London. Let me suggest St. John's. I'm sure they have no stadium and probably no real football tradition, however with all that Hebron money starting to come in, Danny Williams can probably afford to build a BMO style stadium on the cheap. A team in St. John's could end up like the Saskatchewan Roughriders with a lot of community support and not a lot of other entertainment options. Sure the population of Newfoundland is only 508,000 and St. John's only has 118.000 inhabitants in its census metropolitan area, but a 27,000 stadium could be succesful. A Grey Cup in St. John's would be amazing. I think I'll email Mark Cohon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Midweek Musings

Unsurprisingly the Riders lost last week to the Eskimos rather handily. As I said last week, I have no faith in Marcus Crandell and apparently neither do the Riders, as they traded for Argos QB (and noted Ticat killer) Michael Bishop. Reports out of Regina also say that Crandell might even be released before the Labour Day weekend game, thus avoiding to pay him after the rest of the season (vets salaries are guaranteed after 9 games). Bishop might help the Riders out of their two game tailspin, although it is tough to see him starting this weekend. Bishop to me has always been rather underwhelming, however combined with the Riders good defence and his big play ability (22 TDs last year, although with an ugly 52.1% completion rate), Bishop has a chance this year to do ok. I still think the Riders record after their first six wins will be below 500. To many injuries. The Bombers have back to back games against the Riders starting this week and unfortunately for the Ticats I think the Bombers might win both.

For Toronto, well Kerry Joseph is the man now at QB. The Argos also released former Cat Orlando Steinauer who played in the secondary. Apparently another victim of veterans released before game nine not having to be paid for the rest of the season. The money saved also is saved on the salary cap, so I wonder if this is a strategy if you know your team will be currently over the cap for the entire year to get under by the end of the season. Getting rid of Bishop helps the Argos salary cap situation as well. Perhaps they paid to much to Mike Vanderjagt coming back from the NFL.

In other news, the Cats eighth overall pick (received from Montreal for exceeding the salary cap), receiver Samuel Giguerre from the University of Sherbrooke may be released from the Indianapolis Colts. Or not. We should know soon however. Doubtful he could make much of a contribution the rest of the season, but who knows. Here's a Sportnets article on him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CFL Web Ratings and Other Musings

With the bye week, I figured that rather than going on endlessly about last week's debacle against the Blue Bombers or the Labour Day clash, I'd go on about something else.

I've been interested for a while about the CFL financials. I've long felt that the CFL is leaving significant money on the table from various income streams. The internet is certainly one of them. The CFL and Ticats both have decent websites. Looking at the Alexa ranking, the CFL has a worldwide ranking of 67,170 with a Canadian rank of 1,195. The Ticats had a worldwide ranking of 239,017 with a Canadian rank of 11,457. Comparing, the Saskatchewan site, has a worldwide ranking of 265,729 with a Canadian ranking of 5,774. Looking at the Alexa chart for the last six months, the Ticats and Riders web popularity seems to switch back and forth. These stats aren't bad. One thing I wouldn't mind seeing at Ivor Wynne is a relatively big sign with on it. There probably is one, but the fact I've never noticed it means that it isn't prominent enough. Hell, put it on the field, there's enough crap as it is strewn all over it.

Another thing with both the CFL and Ticats websites is what ads they have on it. From what I can see, most of the ads are ticket buying related (makes sense) or sponsors. I'd like to see them add a discreet Google Adsense ad to their pages, especially the forums. From my experience which is a bit limited, often conventional sponsorship has the web component added in for cheap. Having an Adsense ad on all pages would allow some extra money. Other big Canadian websites have these ads mixed, although maybe there's a valid reason not to have them.

In other news, worse than mediocre nonimport defensive tackle Clinton Wayne, cut recently by the Cats has been picked up by Edmonton. Didn't they pick up Hitchcock last year too? Well at least we have one game left against them. Hopefully he'll get in and lamely try to gum up the middle. With Armstead getting picked up by Winnipeg, it makes one wonder what the Cats are doing.

Saskatchewan at Edmonton tomorrow. Edmonton is three points favourites, probably due to the Riders' injuries and the fact that Marcus Crandell is crap. Prepare to see the Riders to go below 500 for the rest of the season. Then again, the Esks are a bit beat up too. My God, the Riders luck may win out again. I'll pick the Riders to cover, but not win. How's that for fence sitting? Or boxing myself in.

Calgary at BC, with BC three point favourites. Uh. I'll probably take Calgary. I have no faith in Jarious Jackson and Buck Pierce has my infamous stamp of brittleness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Hamilton Tigercats, Worst of the Worst

So Hamilton the team with the second worst record, plays the team with the worst record. Hamilton is coming off a convincing win, Winnipeg off a convincing loss. A chance for Hamilton to somewhat move back into contention and continue to build momentum with two straight victories. Uh, no. Hamilton lost 37 to 24.

I think the key to this game was the inability to convert on two third and ones (actually one was second and one) via quarterback sneak in the first half. As Ron Lancaster says (and I'm paraphrasing), if you can't gain a yard, you don't deserve to win. Richie fumbled on one and the right side of the line appeared to be blown off the line for the other. For most of the first half, Winnipeg looked like the worse team and making these first downs likely would have led to scores (or in the case of fumble, not allow Winnipeg an easy way to the one yard line). Obviously in the CFL, teams that are ahead generally play a bit better than teams that are behind. Winnipeg was in a bit of turmoil this season with Glenn coming back. Getting ahead solidly in the first half could have easily led to a Hamilton win. Instead Hamilton was always just a bit behind and couldn't make the winning drive in the fourth quarter, when Williams' pass was tipped and then run in for a TD.

Williams play was decent, he ran for 99 yards, although he only passed for 14 completions out of 27 attempts for 204 yards. Still those failures to execute on those third and ones can at least in part be hung on Richie. Caulley was decent running for 99 yards on ten attempts for two TDs. JoJo Walker was again the top receiver with five grabs for 73 yards. Apparently he's good. Who knew? Both Bauman and Mitchell had no catches. Thanks. The three import offensive line? Mediocre at best and poorly matched against the Winnipeg front four. We're probably stuck with this variant for a while, despite the need for imports elsewhere. Hopefully George Hudson can come back for Labour Day.

On defence, good early, mediocre later. Moreno had a big game with eight tackles and an interception ran back for a TD early in the game. The defensive line? No pressure. Glenn had tons of time to throw and the Cats got burned. Hell Glenn managed to track down a botched snap and make a throw to prevent intentional grounding without being sacked by our sorry line. The Cats have released so many people on the defensive line, that the only one I really know is McKay-Loescher and I only know him because he is Canadian. Maybe some NFL cuts will help out, although I have a feeling they will do a little, get invited to camp, suck early in the regular season and then be booted in July. Maybe we can clone Joe Montford. I thought the secondary didn't play bad considering.

I don't have really a lot to say about the game. They certainly didn't get blown out, but the Cats just don't seem to be able to get their offense and defence synced to win games. Probably why they are two and six. At least Toronto lost against Montreal last week, so if we win on Labour Day, we're tied for second, with a sweep of the season series. Still good, hell decent teams find ways of beating the Winnipegs of this world. The Cats still have a ways to go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Battle of the Truly Mediocre CFL Teams

Yes it is the clash of the two worst teams in the CFL tonight, Hamilton and Winnipeg. With a combined three and eleven record, a battle between two such teams, both with terrible records, is a rare event and should be savored. Ok, perhaps not, but there is redemption to be had for both teams, especially the Cats. If the Cats win and the dreaded double blue loses, the Cats are tied for second. If the Cats win, they will be even at two and two on the road and can lay claim to the title of Road Warriors (in the sense that, overall CFL teams have better home records).

Somewhat surprisingly, the Peg is a 3 point favourite, which usually indicates that on neutral ground the teams would be even. Considering the momentum the Cats have after smashing Toronto with Richie Williams starting and Winnipeg losing handily 39 to 11 to Montreal, one would have thought that the Cats would have been the favourite (the last time we were favourites, I think it was versus Saskatchewan). However in Winnipeg, Dinwiddie goes back to bench and Kevin Glenn comes back at quarterback, plus Milt Stegall, a known Hamilton killer should play. Further their starting center, Dominic Picard returns to duty to shore up a crappy Winnipeg offensive line. Still further, Stanford Samuels returns to Winnipeg to play at corner. Finally Jason (cut by both Hamilton and Montreal) Armstead comes in as a return man.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, guard George Hudson' injury causes some chaos in the ratio, with Lumsden being out adding to the chaos. Caulley is definitely a capable back, but Lumsden's nonimport status would have been valuable tonight. So all this combined probably explains Winnipeg being slight favourites, despite them being so sucky last week.

A note about Williams and Printers. Cat scribe Ken Peters has written about the Cats possibly releasing Printers before the Labour Day game, I guess due to relative ineffectiveness and his high cap cost. As a veteran, after nine games, his pay for the full season is guarranteed and applies against the salary cap. Just a rumor, however probably not a good idea. Williams could easily get injured and then where would we be, Timmy? Having two reasonable starters is imperative for a team with a mediocre cast. Plus I'm not sure what we could do with the extra cap space for this season if Printers was released. Sure it would have been useful before the season, but I'm not sure what could be done with it now. Maybe you could renegotiate some other player's salaries and pay some money this season rather than next. I don't know the policy. One thing the CFL could do, is release the salaries for all players making over $100,000. It would make it easier to analyze situations like this and I think the fans would want to know.

On to the game. Williams needs to occasionally run like last week (eight rushes for 59 yards), whether it is planned, or taking opportunities to pick up a first down. With Caulley, same as last week (14 rushes for 127 yards), and stick with him, even if he gets stopped for two yards on first down. Previously the Bombers defensive line was known for run stopping, but I think those days are done, so have at them. This should help the line as well, which is pretty mediocre for having three imports. For the receivers, Walker and Mitchell were the top gainers last week, so look for Williams to continue to use them. Miles was in the depth chart this week, I have not idea what will happen to him. Getting the ball to Bauman wouldn't hurt either. Interestingly, last week Piercy, a fullback had a pair of 16 yard receptions and the other fullback Pavlovic had a TD reception. That is indicative of some creative play calling which will hopefully continue this week, as it has been rare this season.

On defence, no Dinwiddie, but Kevin Glenn. Glenn has always seemed to me to be a decent enough quarterback, but nothing remarkable. He is not the threat to run that Joseph was last week, however he is less likely to make boneheaded passes that have no chance to be caught. Obviously, the Cats will need to get some pressure like last week, likely with some occasional blitzes. Charles Roberts hasn't done much this year and the Cats have generally been good against the run, except for when they are losing late. Stegall has certainly killed Hamilton in the past, however he doesn't seem to be the same player anymore. I keep saying Moreno will have a big game, maybe this week is it.

I think the Cats have a decent chance to win, although getting Glenn back could give the Bombers a lift. If the Cats can get ahead and establish their running game, this could be a thrashing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Assorted Injury Stuff

First off, congratulations to Richie Williams being named the offensive player of the week and to defensive back Chris Thompson being named defensive player of the week. When was the last time, the Cats took those two awards in the same week? Beats me and I'm too lazy to look it up.

The injury to starting nonimport guard George Hudson in last week's Winnipeg game apparently means we are back to three imports on the offensive line according to this week's depth chart. Jonta Woodard comes back to play left tackle after sitting out last week, a Ticat victory. Cavka, an import goes to guard and import Charles Thomas plays the other tackle position. Dyakowski and Hage, both nonimports play the remaining guard and center positions respectively. Last time the Cats started three imports on the offensive line, I was excited and figured the Cats running game would bust out all over. Instead the offensive line sucked Argoly and gave up eight sacks.

Hudson's injury along with Lumsden still being out, brings a load of ratio madness. Tre Smith has to sit out this week due to the ratio and nonimport running back John (no not the Star Wars guy) Williams gets to see the field. Whether he gets to actually carry the ball is questionable, but I'm a firm believer that in the CFL the running backs are a fairly fungible commodity anyways. Although in five years in the CFL, the most yards he has gained in one season was 39 with the Argos in 2006. Cauley I assume will carry the ball the most this week against Winnipeg. Admittedly injuries have hurt the Cats offensive line, but the Cats have to do a better job of stocking up on Canadian talent in that area. Starting three imports there is a waste of an import spot.

On a better note, Jykine Bradley is back at corner back, after recovering from his collision with Edmonton's Jason Tucker. Printers is still out with his thumb thingy, however with the bye week next week and the Labour Day Classic being on a Monday, I assume he and Lumsden will be back (depending on his ankle thingy, which is also a bit mysterious).

I could go through Winnipeg and their injuries, but apparently their center comes back this week and takes over from former Cat and Mac product Ryan Donnelly (who probably would be useful for the Cats as a backup/inevitable starter this year). However I think their line is still hurting. Apparently Stegall will play too.

More game analysis tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Get Out the Brooms! Ticats Thrash Argos!

So the Ticats have proven that they can thrash the Argos this season after the 45 to 21 beating down at lovely Ivor Wynne. Get the brooms out for Labour Day (if security allows them in, which is unlikely). No Printers, no Lumsden and no Miles either which is a positive. Plus we win the Ballard Cup, which nobody can seem to remember. Plus we still have three games left against Winnipeg.

We also finally scored a receiving TD, by the unlikely fullback Robert Pavlovic. On a nice bit of play calling too, when the big guys went in and everyone expected a run and Pavlovic was wide open. Followed by two more receiving TDs. When it rains it pours.

On offense, Richie Williams was superb in relief of Casey Printers, going 15 of 24 for 293 yards and three TDs and 59 yards on 8 rushing attempts. The completion rate was ok at 62.5 %. Terry Cauley in at running back was solid with 127 yards on 14 attempts, proving that the Argos can't stop the run. Perhaps other CFL teams should take note of the double Blue team's suckiness in that regard. Cauley made a couple of plays showing off his elusiveness, where he seemed to be surely doomed, but somehow kept going and racking up the yards. Again, perhaps Argo run defence suckiness. I guess the Cat line is sometimes good at run blocking. No Jonta Woodard (who used to live in my apartment building) at tackle either. Hmmm.

For the receivers, I know I've mocked him, the Cats have cut him, but JoJo (my name doesn't help me on the resume) Walker was the leading receiver with 86 yards on 5 catches. Way to go JoJo. Hopefully you won't get booted out of the lineup when Miles comes back. Mitchell was next at 81 yards on three catches (I can't remember if he dropped one in the first half). Bauman had a nice TD reception for 63 yards too. Seven Cats had receptions.

Pass blocking, the Cats weren't too bad, with only a couple of sacks against them. Rempel came into to play for the injured Hudson at guard in the second half and didn't look too bad to me (ie give up multiple obvious sacks). With Hudson injured, the Cats are pretty weak for Canadian offensive line talent.

On defence, the Cats looked mediocre in the first half, where Kerry Joseph seemed to be able to complete fat crossing routes at will, especially during their last minute of the half drive for a TD. However the Cats managed to mostly shut down Joseph in the second half (no doubt helped by Joseph's propensity to make goofy throws along the line of scrimmage that were nowhere near the receiver) and also bagged two interceptions, one for a TD. Inexplicably, Joseph only ran for 31 yards on three attempts. Not good Argo strategy. The Cat line had some decent pressure, with some surprisingly well called blitzes. As per usual, the Argo running game did nothing. Perhaps if recent NFL cut and Harvard graduate and Canadian Clifton Dawson signs with the Argos (who have his rights), they still won't have a running game.

All in all a pretty solid victory and the Cats first win at home this year and a mighty two and four over their last six games. Winnipeg lies ahead on the road and is currently even worse than Hamilton. If Hamilton wins that game, we'll be a 500 road team and perhaps back in the race for a playoff spot. Amazing.

Biggest disappointment: when Quinton Porter went in to mop up at QB, instead of Chang. Timmy! I still believe!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Double Blue Team Rematch

So here we are again against the Toronto Argonauts, having beaten them handily in the first meeting of the year and gotten the monkey of beating the double blue off our backs. Now the last time we won at home versus the Argos. I can't remember and I'm too lazy to look it up. The Argos are currently 2.5 point favourites, which means we have a chance, although we don't have our best quarterback, running back or receiver (arguably Tony Miles). However the Argos would seem to be equally beat up, with receivers down left and right, forcing the start of one of their backup quarterbacks at wideout. Erstwhile Argo hope wide receiver Bethel Johnson is still out after being injured in the first Ticat Argo tilt. Richie Williams doesn't seem to be much of a dropoff from Printers at this stage, so we will call the injury situation even.

For the Cat offense, the offensive line has been shuffled once more, with left tackle Jonta Wordard (who once lived in my apartment building, but I never recognized him or had the chance to berate him) being cast aside to be replaced by Charles Thomas who was benched last week. Mediocre import tackles are surely one of the banes of my existence. Cavka stays at right tackle and nonimport Dyakowski stays in at left guard. So who will be the better turnstile, Woodard or Thomas? I say it is a wash, but a better line than two weeks ago with three imports starting. The Argos seem to run a three four defence, succesfully against the pass and not so successfully against the run. Not sure how things will turn out with Terry Caulley starting at running back this week in place of the injured Lumsden (and the noninjured Tre Smith). I don't expect a lot out of him, although he wasn't bad last year (again replacing Lumsden, I sense a theme). What I am hoping for and may get is a lot of Richie Williams legging it himself, especially if the Argos have good coverage down field. Hopefully Williams will remember where the first down marker is this week and time his slides accordingly. Sometimes he may even have to take some punishment to move the ball. The Cats won't win otherwise and Richie, you're not Anthony Cavillo, you won't break if you get tackled.

For the Cat receivers, Bauman is listed ahead of Woodcock, with the usual imports Rodriguez, JoJo, and Scott (I like to drop one in the first quarter just to get loosened up) Mitchell. Somehow Mitchell now leads the Cats in receiving, so maybe we'll get something out of him and Rodriguez, as they appear so far to be favourite targets of Williams. Maybe even a TD pass! Ok lets not get ahead of ourselves. Rushing TDs are fine and worked against the Argos last time. Williams has to be careful of the Argos secondary, as they are noted ball hawks.

On defence, things may not be too bad. The Argos have no running game to speak of, as they always seem to half heartedly try a couple of runs in the first half that go nowhere and then give up on the running back for the rest of the game. This doesn't include Kerry Joseph, who I'm sure will run and the Cats better try and limit him from reaching the first down marker. Perhaps this is where Moreno will have a big game. The defensive line has reverted to using nonimport McKay-Loescher on the end, with Lewis starting at the other end in place of Cornelius Anthony who started last week. I'm guessing that Anthony will come in on second and long situations to try and chase Joseph down, like he did once last week for a Cavillo sack. With the Argos receivers in chaos, maybe the line won't be revealed for the mediocrity it is.

For the secondary, Bradley is out a second week, which isn't good since Tisdale is young and seems ready to be lit up. Hopefully the other cornerback Gordon will cover Arland Bruce and things won't go poorly.

One thing about this game is that with the feebleness of the Argos offense, the Cats are in less danger of falling way behind. If the Cats can keep it close, they can run on first or second down, make first downs, and eat up the clock and wear down the rather crotchety Argo defence (O'Shea). A sure recipe for a Cats victory? Perhaps not, but I like the Cats chances in this game.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Aftermath of the Battle of the Mediocre Football Teams, Part Two

Well another game, another Cats loss, surprise, surprise. Obviously the most important thing to take from the result, a 40 to 33 Montreal victory, is the fact that we covered the spread! So effectively we exceeded our expectations. I'll take my positives where I can.

I've waited a while to write up this postgame report, as I'm never enthused about righting up a loss. So here goes. I was a little concerned going in with Williams starting, however I felt that there really wasn't a big dropoff compared to Printers and it wasn't like we won more than one game with Printers in anyways. Richie went 18 for 24 for 260 yards with two interceptions. He also ran 13 times for 79 yards, including two TD runs. That 75 % completion rate isn't bad and was no doubt helped by the times that Richie ran, rather than make a poor passing attempt. His 6.1 yards per rush was a little disappointing, considering I felt that if the Cats were going to win, Williams was going to have to run. Tre Smith and Jesse Lumsden combined didn't do a lot rushing, with 77 yards on 12 attempts (with a respectable 6.4 yards per rush), although combined with Williams' total, not too bad. Lumsden being hurt surely didn't help, as he is a superior back to Smith. Lumsden has got to find a way to stay in the game and do some damage in the second half when the defences are tired (and as so many teams have done to the Cats this year).

Receiver wise, Mitchell managed to prove me wrong by making three grabs for 89 yards, including some yards after the catch. Rodriguez was solid with six receptions for 85 yards and even tigercatatonia favourite (and cut from the team a few weeks ago) JoJo Walker had five grabs for 52 yards. Woodcock and Bauman didn't do much, so our import receivers were our best receivers for once.

On the offensive line, Thomas was out at right tackle, Cavka shifted over to right tackle and Dyakowski in at left guard. So down to only two imports from the week before and their play was marginally better. Still five sacks were allowed and Williams didn't seem to have loads of time.

On defence, Calvillo went 26 for 36 for 326 yards for a 72 % completion rate. Likely Jykine Bradley being out didn't help this. Cobourne rushed 17 times for 119 yards, which is not good enough. The Cats forced some Montreal turnovers which probably helped keep the score somewhat close. The defensive line got a bit more pressure than last week, including a sack by Cornelius Anthony that I pretty much predicted in my last post by running down the slowfooted Cavillo, however not enough pressure to win a game. Four imports on the line now and really a mediocre group. We'll see what next week brings.

I thought what really killed us was the TD from Cavillo on the first play of the third quarter that went 81 yards. With the score close, you can't give those up. Especially since through the first and second quarters, the game was kept close, with a surprisingly reasonable Ticat start. The other killer was on special teams with a few long returns that gave Montreal great field position and some gimme points. The Cats defence is not good enough to survive short field position.

Not much more to say. The Cats weren't blown out, but they're going to have to play better in all facets of the game to win.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Battle of the Mediocre Football Teams, Part Deux

That's right, both teams are mediocre. Montreal going into tonight's game is 2 and 3 and has lost three straight after winning their first two (including a week one drubbing of Hamilton). I didn't have a lot of confidence going into the season for Montreal and neither did a lot of prognosticators, considering they were ranked below Hamilton on odds to win the Grey Cup. I mainly based my prediction on the fact that Cavillo is getting older and older and is statistically likely to miss some games this year and that Montreal's recent history with backup QBs may be worse than Hamilton. However, if Montreal wins this week, they are even Steven on the season and out goes my thesis. Until Cavillo goes down in a couple of games for a stretch.

So no Printers this week, but we do have Richie Williams. I do like Printers more over the long haul, however it's not like he led us to the promised land so far, going 1 and 4. I like Richie for the fact that he's not afraid to run the ball if he sees a chance, which Printers has seemed unwilling to do much of this year, preferring to hang on to the ball in hopes of someone getting open down field. For the Ticats, picking up first downs in the first half, and allowing the run game to develop and the defence to stay relatively rested is critical. Nothing better than the QB picking up some cheap first downs and driving down the field. Statistically it is not like the Cats receivers have been the masters of yards after the catch (I'm looking at you Tony Miles, with a longest reception of 17 yards this season) anyways.

No Miles this week unfortunately, but Rodriguez is starting to look good with his jump ball abilities. I would love it if he made the habit of running a short route to the first down line, stopping, turning, jumping and making first down after first down in front of hapless defensive backs. From the depth chart, Rodriguez, Walker, Mitchell and Woodcock are starting at the receiver/slot positions, with Bauman backing up Woodcock and I assume Bauman coming in for five receiver packages (which it should be noted, didn't really work for us last week, with 8 an sack festival). Personally, I'd rather have Bauman in for Mitchell, and have Mitchell in for the five receiver set, as Mitchell has mostly proved his skills at dropping catchable balls and fumbling. Mediocre import receivers, truly the bane of a Ticat fan's existence the past few years.
On the line, import tackle and erstwhile turnstile Thomas is out and Cavka moves from guard to his apparent natural tackle position. Are tackles and guards like guitarists and bassists? Nonimport Dyakowski comes in to start now at guard. Last week I was excited for three imports starting on the offensive line. I figured it would be a glorious occasion of long Ticat runs interspersed with consecutive completions and a good time had by all. Not so. I think starting a third import doesn't really help that much. The third import might be a bit better than the nonimport, but not enough to matter over the game (and three imports are just asking for procedure penalties, which for the Cats is sometimes almost as bad as a sack) and certainly the import spot would be more valuable somewhere else. Which apparently is the defensive line where we are starting four imports. Interestingly, I looked at the Argos offensive line depth chart from last week and they only start one import. Hmmm.

Lumsden was kind of off and on last week, although he didn't get a lot of carries. I wouldn't mind him catching a few more passes, but I think part of the problem is that every team is keyed on Lumsden. Perhaps develop a situation where Lumsden is open, but Williams takes off instead. I'm fixated on Williams running I know. Apparently for this game the Alouettes are starting two rookies in the secondary. I'll end my ramblings about the offense on that note of hope.

On defence, well we are starting four imports on the line as I previously mentioned. A team might have three good imports, but I kind of wonder what quality you are getting for the fourth.

Cornelius Anthony (#48) is starting at one of the defensive end positions, despite usually being a linebacker and only being 222 pounds. Perhaps the Cats are hoping that he can morph into some sort of lesser Joe Montford. One thing that could work in his favour is the ability to track Cavillo down if gets flushed out of the pocket, or gasp, tries to run. I'm just assuming Anthony has some speed. Maybe Anthony (with his assumed relative speed) will drop back into coverage on occasion, with a DB or linebacker coming from the other side for a glorious Cat sack. The line and the whole defence looked reasonable apart from the end last week. Maybe they will get some pressure against the somewhat cagey Cavillo.

Provided Cavillo gets some pressure (a big if) I think the Cats secondary won't do to bad. Bradley being out hurts. Not really much to say here.

I like the Cats run defence, mainly because while it occasionally allows a first down here or there, it is not bad at stopping the runner after one or two yards on first down, setting up second and long. That's just my anecdotal observation and I can't really back it up. I hope I'm right.

The Cats are 10 point underdogs and I am hopeful they will cover the spread. In the fortuitous situation where Cavillo has to leave the game, I like the Cats. Maybe they'll even bring in Timmy to mop up...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Odds and Ends

Here is a blog post during the season that doesn't have to do with a game directly. Amazing.

So a few comments Ticat related. Kori Dickerson DE (who had a pass knockdown last game) and DT Clinton Wayne (nonimport) got the heave ho off the roster after the Edmonton game. Interesting, considering that the offensive line seemed to be by far the biggest problem for the Cats in that game. Now word comes from Ken Peters in the Spec that RT Charles Thomas (import) is no longer starting and will be replaced by nonimport Peter Dyakowski. I wonder if Marcus Kavka will move to tackle from guard and Dyakowski will slide into a starting guard role from now on. Considering this is also a ratio move, what import will replace a nonimport and at what position. Perhaps the defensive line will go totally import, although considering all the players that have left recently who will they have to play? Obviously when NFL cutdowns roll around some new bodies will show up, only to leave like this year in July of next year. Rinse, repeat.

William Houston's CFL ratings are out today in the Globe. For the Esks vs. Cats it was 397,000 viewers, Als vs. Lions 661,000 combined on TSN/RDS and for the Argos vs. Riders it was 578,000 the largest of the season on TSN according to Houston. For the Thursday game, the Stampeders vs. Bombers was 536,000 fans which was the highest previous to the Argos Riders game. Seems like the move to TSN has worked out OK. Probably promoing on CTV doesn't hurt either. Sad the Cats had the least, but I wonder how they would do with a better team.

Statswise, Lumsden is second in rushing at 416 yards behind the Riders' Cates with 493. In receiving, the highest Cat is Miles at 20th with 223 yards. Interestingly, his longest reception was 17 yards so there's not a lot of yards after the catch happening there. Amazingly Rodriguez is only two spots behind him at 22th with 212 yards. Likely Rodriguez will pass Miles, since it seems that Miles will miss this game with a hamstring as well. Maybe if we had Miles last week, things would have been different.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Battle of the Mediocre Football Teams, the Aftermath

So while I couldn't be at the game due to a business trip, I did manage to catch it via the internet, which wasn't a bad way to experience the game, such as it was. At least it wasn't as bad a game as last week with Calgary, although the first half was quite painful in its own way.

I had predicted that with Lumsden back and Cavka in at guard (and three imports in total on the line) that the running game would probably do ok against an Edmonton team that has a better offense than a defence. On the first Ticats series they gave to ball to Lumsden who got around one yard. The offensive line on that play had almost no push forward. After that a sack. The next series a O'Neil Wilson drop for a first down on what in hindsight would have been a better running play. Then an overthrown ball to Woodcock. And so it went. Crappy passing plays, with the offensive line being overwhelmed by blitzes (which Lumsden didn't seem to be able to help much with either it must be mentioned) in five receiver sets. Why not a few more tight end setups on first down? Mix in a typical Mitchell drop (who had no catches), a fumbled snap and a reception by Woodcock and you had a mostly terrible offensive first half.

The defence in the first half played great, considering they were constantly getting back on the field. A bunch of Edmonton two and outs in the first half and really they kept the Cats in the game. Ricky Ray displayed his typical pass a lot, but not do much style that plagued him last year. I know he's won a Grey Cup, but then so has Marcus Crandell. Kamau Peterson was his usual mostly useless self in the first half. The line seemed to get some pressure at times and the secondary was great.

In the second half, the offense improved somewhat. The defence wasn't as hot as in the first half, but again they spent a lot of time on the field and couldn't stop the Eskimos at the end when they needed to (similar to the Saskatchewan game). Interestingly after the game, Clinton Wayne and Kori Dickerson were outright released. I thought the defensive line was ok, with a bunch of pass knockdowns (including one by Dickerson) so I'm not sure what is up with that. I almost would have rather we heaved somebody from the O-line.

Boneheaded play after Printers gets injured when the Cats were down near the goal line with 2nd and one and they go shotgun with Richie Williams and he ends up getting tackled for a few yards back and they have to settle for a field goal. Admittedly hindsight is great and if whatever they were trying to do would have worked they would have looked like heroes, but honestly? Either sneak it or give it to Lumsden on a power run and get some confidence and the first down and likely the TD afterwards.

Williams didn't play badly when he was in, going 7 for 11 for 138 yards (although obviously that was upped a bit by the desperate flurry at the end). Ultimately I think it is possible for the team to win with Williams in (although I still would somewhat rather Printers over the long haul), but he will have to use his feet in the next game if he starts the next game and pick up some easy first downs.

With regards to the receivers, the 6'5" Rodriguez was amazing with ten receptions for 155 yards. I have to admit, I felt a project like him wasn't something a poor team like the Ticats could afford, however he has worked out better than expected. Fantastic height and great hands, hopefully he can win a game for us down the road. JoJo Walker, despite being released and then brought back also had a decent game. Scott Mitchell, why is he starting? I would start Bauman at his slotback position along with Walker (providing Miles is still hurt) along with Woodcock and Rodriguez. Maybe put Mitchell in with five receiver packages, but he has dropped more passes than his catches would justify. With Bauman starting, that's another ratio player, so we could start four import linemen! Just joking, our line sucks with three imports as it is, and I would have to think the fourth would bring sucking to a new level. Keep Mitchell plastered to the bench though.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Edmonton Eskimos Game, Battle of the Mediocre Football Teams

The Cats are at home versus the Esks with a chance to go 2 and 3. Both are coming off losses with Hamilton the 2 point underdog. So there is definitely a chance for the Cats to win and pick up their second win, in July no less and Edmonton is playing on a short week. Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Obviously the big story is Jesse Lumsden's return and how that goes. Edmonton's defence is one of the more mediocre thus far (although not as bad as Winnipeg). Edmonton has given up 6.3 yards per rush so far this year, so that bodes well for Lumsden. Hopefully the Cats won't go too crazy this game relying on Lumsden exclusively. Instead they should try to mix in some Smith and have Printers make the odd first down scamper. With Lumsden playing and the import Cavka likely at guard, will that make the O-line effective. Fred Perry, Edmonton's rush end was lost last week with a delightfully gruesome leg injury (which I witnessed at a bar in Pearson's international departures terminal while munching on some surprisingly tasty nachos), so maybe it is time for a dominant offensive performance with Printers having forever to throw and long runs ripped off effortlessly. I'm almost overconfident.

Oh wait, Miles is out with a bad hamstring and erstwhile Catatonia favourite JoJo Walker is apparently in for him (despite being recently released) at slotback. I'm hoping Bauman and Woodcock will have good games, because I don't have a lot of confidence in Hamilton's import receivers. Maybe Mitchell will prove me wrong and score the Ticats first TD through the air.
I'm picking Lumsden on a screen or shovel pass for that illustrious honour.

On defence, well, if the offense can avoid sucking with turnovers and 2 and outs in the first half, they probably won't do too bad. Edmonton has a pretty pass happy offense with some rushing, but the Cats haven't done a bad job stopping the rush this year (although the stats don't really show it). Having Ricky Ray as your QB means you are going to have a lot of passing yards in your game, however it doesn't necessarily mean you are going to win. Last year Ray passed for a ton of yards (which Jason Maass definitely did not do), but the Esks were only marginally better than Hamilton. I'm not exactly sure how that's possible, but I believe it has something to do with a porous defence and falling behind. Hopefully Moreno will have a big game for once this year and the rejigged line with McKay-Loescher not starting (and Clinton Wayne nonimport starting at tackle wtf?) will get at least some pressure. Maybe we'll blitz and not get burned too badly.

This is the first of the blacked out games, which is a grievous mistake in my opinion. What if Hamilton actually does well in this game? Who's going to see it? Interestingly the most watched game so far this year was Toronto at Edmonton on July 10th, with 475,000 viewers.

Unfortunately, I won't be at the game in my usual seat in section 7, but I will attempt to watch it on broadband here in Deutschland. Failing that it is CHML, followed by the replay tomorrow. Go Cats! May the other team have a run of stunning incompetence.

The Stampeders Game

After a bad loss, I have a hard time getting around to writing a blog post about the game. I justify waiting by thinking it better not to write an angry post right after the game, but to reflect on it for a day or two. Well last week in Calgary, we lost badly 43 to 16 so here is a blog post after a lot of reflection.

I can't seem to track down the liveplay site of the game on so I'll just have to go by memory and the game stats. Obviously one thing that jumps out at you this game is the bad start with multiple stupid mistakes. Smith juggling the ball, Printers having problems with the ball. Bad starts like this have hampered the Cats in other games, and if we were going to have any chance to win this game, we had to have a good start. Sometimes I wonder, why can't other teams have a bad start against the Cats every once in a while. We still have four games against Winnipeg, this year so maybe it will happen.

Lumsden not being in this game obviously didn't help matters. He hopefully would have been more sure handed then Smith and could have gained a few first downs in the half and slow the game down. Lumsden being in also allows the use of the import Cavka at guard in place of Dyakowski. That obviously helps for the run game, but it probably helps for the pass game too. Sometimes I wonder if Lumsden would be as effective if Dyakowski was in for him. I wonder too about keeping Dyakowski in at guard with Lumsden and substituting Mariuz for an import linebacker. We just picked up Cornelius Anthony who played linebacker for Calgary last year for Defensive Coordinator Denny Creehan, although I don't know how much of an upgrade he would be over Mariuz (although he did have 8 sacks last year).

Offensively, Smith at RB didn't do much, going 32 yards on 9 carries with two fumbles. That's not getting it done, and not the way to impress when you get the start. Printers only ran for 4 times for 12 yards (with a TD) which I don't think is good enough. I like how Printers would rather try and find a guy downfield than run, however a few more runs when there isn't much there for a first down or 7 or 8 yards on first down would help in my opinion. The threat to run also alters the defence, so I would like to see Printers run it approximately 8 times a game (although to be fair, Burris only ran once for one yard and that worked out OK for him). Of course, being down almost the entire game can screw up the game plan. Printers was 17 for 26 for 209 yards, for a 65.4 % completion percentage. Two fumbles and two interceptions don't help. Mitchell and Miles weren't bad receiving, which they should be considering they are imports. Bauman and Woodcock didn't do much this game unfortunately.

Defensively, the Cats couldn't get any pressure on Burris and he picked them apart. The offense in the first half didn't help, with almost no sustained drives. The Cats defence is by no means great, but the only way they are going to do anything is if the offense can win the time of possession battle. Not really much to say here. Hopefully more pressure, maybe some turnovers, in the future, along with a sack or two and some two and outs.

Setta punted magnificently, albeit in some cases wind aided, and he kept the score respectable in the first half. Seems a waste of a great effort, but if everyone else is sucking, what can you do? Hopefully down the line, Setta will contribute to a few wins.

Not much else to say about that game. They probably don't win with Lumsden, unless he has a truly monster game, but it certainly would have been more respectable.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tonight versus the Stampeders

Unfortunately, Jesse Lumsden is out for this game. Tre Smith has looked good so far (including one play in last week's game where he was tossed by a defender, managed to stay on his feet and turned a loss into a big game). I'm a little concerned that he is a big run or nothing type of runner. Lumsden even if he was met at the line often grinded out three yards. I'm worried that Smith might have some zero yard runs on first down. Terry Caulley will see his first action as well. He was a capable back last year, but I think he is an average CFL RB, which are a dime a dozen. The run game will be hurt by Lumsden's absence in addition due to the need for another Canadian on the line, so Cavka comes out and Dyakowski comes in at guard.

Printers will need to have a big game if the Cats are going to have any chance of winning. Printers will need to use his legs for some first downs to allow the Cats offence to stay on the field. Bauman and the other receivers will have to continue their positive work last week. Hopefully an import receiver will step up, but I have my doubts. The Cats can't afford two and outs versus Calgary's high powered offence.

On defence the Cats are in tough. They will need to pressure Burris if they have any hope of winning. They will need to stop Joffrey Reynolds, preferrably limiting his first down yards and then stop second and long. The Cats beat Burris last year, so there's always a chance. If the Cats get the lead, they will need to keep the pressure up, unlike Montreal last week.

Last Week's Game

Well that was a disappointment in some ways, looking back on it now. Sure the Riders are a good team, but starting their third string QB Durant, this looked like a good chance for a home win. Why can't Hamilton ever have a third string guy come in and win?

I think the key to this loss was the fact that the Cats were always down and never managed to get ahead. Getting ahead of Saskatchewan would have put more pressure on their backup QB, which could have led to turnovers and consequently a much bigger lead. Obviously it is easy to say that a team should get ahead and then they have a better chance to win. However the Ticats missed some opportunities in the first half that may ultimately have cost the game. Setta missed that first field goal (admittedly a long one) and then Lumsden fumbled while the Cats were on the march late in the second quarter leading to a Saskatchewan TD. The unfortunate thing about the fumble, was that it was on 2nd and 1, and Lumsden did get past the first down marker at the Riders' 20, with only 2:19 left. That could have meant either three or seven points for the Cats with no time left for the Riders to reply.

Through most of the game I thought that the Cats looked like the better team and would have won if their had been an extra quarter to play. But the Cats didn't get it done.

Offencewise, I don't think their was much to complain about. Lumsden had another good day and was able to run against the tough Saskatchewan run defence. Printers, I was a bit disappointed in his completion percentage (18/32, 56.2 %). I was also disappointed that Printers only rushed four times for 19 yards, which I think was too few attempts for a mobile QB. It was great seeing Bauman with eight receptions (considering that some fans wanted to trade him) and Miles and Woodcock with some good yards. With their success, it seems silly not to start both Woodcock and Bauman at receiver and slotback. Besides Miles, it is not like the other American receivers are getting much done. Mediocre American receivers, what else is new for the Ticats.

Defencewise, I think this was a weakness, however they did not play badly. Obviously the strength of the Cats so far this year is the strength of their offence. A lot of pass yards were given up, however I don't blame this all on the secondary. The front four wasn't generating much of a rush and in fact didn't get one single sack against a backup QB. Props to the Riders oline, but that's just not getting it done. Maybe a few more blitzes might have been called for?

In the stadium, I was impressed by the number of Riders fans in attendance (which was probably a bit low because of the earlier rain). Interestingly the Cats seem to think that the Riders are not a big draw historically for Hamilton fans (which is probably true), however it now seems that the Riders are a big draw for Riders fans in the area. If the Cats are smart, they would try to keep this game in the summer next year, as the Riders fans seem willing to come out for it, rain or shine. I'll make a bold prediction that the final game of the Argos at home versus the Riders will be a sellout (providing that either team is not sucking totally by that time).

We'll see how the Cats do against the Stampeders this week.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today's Game

Well here we are with a decent chance to be 2 and 1, which considering the last few seasons is pretty cool. I wonder when we last had a winning record? I guess the first year of the Bob Young era when the Cats went 0.500. Certainly there is a decent chance, with Crandell out for Saskatchewan and Durant in with Jyles backing him up. I was a bit leary of Saskatechewan's chances starting the season with Crandell and the two new guys remind me a bit of the Todd Bankhead Billy the Skid era of bad Ticat backups. One never knows however.

I think the key for this game again will be avoiding two and outs early versus a tough Saskatchewan defence. If the Cats can establish Lumsden early and make some first downs, I think they will be ok. I do think it will be critical for Printers to occassionally run when the opportunity presents itself, picking up the easy first down or perhaps six or seven yards on first down. Get the offence in sync and on the field and keep Durant from getting any chance of getting hot. Same as last week I guess.

For the defence, throw some blitzes at Durant, and watch out for Wes Cates. Again prevent the Riders from converting 2nd and long, however with the inexperienced quarterback, that shouldn't be too hard.

I'm really hoping this goes according to plan, but lord knows I've been dissappointed before. One last thing, if the Cats do get ahead, they need to keep it going and absolutely crush the Riders and give them no chance at coming back. That's how good teams win a lot of games.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This Week's Non-Tigercat Games

I suppose I should comment on the three non Tigercat games this week, considering the importance of these games early in the season for the East division standings.

Ok, the first game, Calgary at Montreal, which is just about to start. I think Montreal is slightly favoured and with some justification. I think this game will really prove if Montreal is actually for real. Montreal has always been good at home (as have most CFL teams) so they have to have some edge there. I'm not really a huge fan of Henry Burris. He has always seemed to me to be a big numbers guy without a big winning record. Anyways, I'm going with Montreal, with the caveat that Calvillo will get injured (heartwarming cancer story notwithstanding) for a number of games at some point this year, wherein the team will go into a tailspin. Not this week though.

The Argos at Edmonton. A hard game to pick. If the Argos can't get their defence going, they are done. With all the Bishop waivers BS week, I can't think it will help the Argos offence, although teams often seem to have a habit of kicking ass for one game in such a situation and then sucking. With all the Argos' former NFLer receivers injured, I can't think their offence will do much. Ricky Ray? I don't trust prematurely balding quarterbacks for some reason (although I might have been horribly scarred by Jason Maass). Ray to me is another big numbers guy who doesn't have the winning percentage you would think. I know he has won a Grey Cup, but then so has Marcus Crandell. Crap versus crap, I'll pick the home team.

BC at Winnipeg. Neither of these teams is very good so far and one thing we do know now is that Jarious Jackson is not very good and that Buck Pierce has my dreaded Stamp of Brittleness(TM). No Joe Smith this week either at running back. Winnipeg isn't terrible and with a bit of better play in the first game versus the Argos in the second half, they may not be 0-2. Glenn is decent, although better with Milt Stegall in the lineup. I have to take Winnipeg at home, decent quarterback plus a good running back.

One final point, what is up with these Amway ads (sorry Quickstar) on TSN? I like John Tesh's line about proudly operating as Quickstar in North America. I guess operating as Amway would just be embarassing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last Week's Argo Game

Well it has been almost a week since the magical victory of the Cats over the Argos. I won't say that I was expecting it (considering the Cats were 10.5 point underdogs), but I did think that they had a slight chance (to beat the spread). Winning 32 - 13 sure wasn't what Vegas was expecting.

Before the game, on offence I said the Cats had to have a semblance of a running game, Printers has to have a similar completion percentage as last week, and Printers has to be able to run for some first downs. Considering the Cats ran for over 300 yards, Lumsden picking up 189 himself, obviously they had a running game. Tre Smith also picked up a lot of yards. I noticed that Printers was also able to run, including for two touchdowns. Whether the Cats will be able to do that against the defences of other teams is a question. Printers was 16 of 23 for 171 yards, for a 69.6% completion rate, which was in fact similar to last week. I guess starting three imports on the oline worked for the Cats, although I noticed they switched Peter Dyakowski in at guard when Lumsden went out. Lumsden was impressive not just on his long runs, but also when he was met at the line, he always seemed to grind out a couple of yards or sometimes even five or six. That's so important, as 2nd and 7 allows a lot more possibilities (including the QB legging it) than 2nd and 10. Someday I would like to make a chart of the percentages for making a first down for 2nd and X number of yards, but I'm guessing that would take a lot of effort.

On defence, I said how the Cats would do would depend on how the Argos QB did. Fortunately, Kerry Joseph didn't do a lot, especially in the first half. That might have a bit to do with new Argo receiver Bethel Johnson getting injured early (by his own player if I recall correctly). Johnson is another one of the former NFLers the Argos love so much and apparently really fast. Welcome to the CFL son! I also mentioned that the Cats had to stop 2nd and long (8 or more yards). I tried keeping track for both teams, but it was harder than I thought. However for the first half, the Argos didn't make a first down in any of those situations (the Cats themselves were rarely in 2nd and long situations). So obviously that's the key. Hard to tell how good the Cats defence is based on their last two outings. Moreno played ok from what I saw, but not fantastic.

Other bits, I noticed Jonta Woodard got an illegal formation call against him. Jonta seems to be good for at least one to two drive killing penalties per game. Is that worth giving up an additional sack for an inferior player? Hard calculation to make. Woodcock made at least four good grabs that I saw, often for first downs. Good pickup. Argos coach Stubler was wearing shorts, not really a good look, although I admit I prefer that to some dork on the sidelines with a suit on. Vanderjagt's placekicking was good, but his punting was mediocre. I'm guessing he will flipflop throughout the year.

Finally, as a suggestion for selling more tickets, the Argos and Cats should offer an option for their season ticket holders to receive tickets for the other team's home games against their teams (maybe even including the exhibition games). Just add on $20 or $30 per game onto the original season ticket price and call it the ultimate package or some other marketing jargon. Likely you will get a number of hardcore fans who might end up going that might not have. A bit of extra revenue for the tickets plus the concessions, plus the demand comes from those less likely in some ways to buy a ticket on the spur of the moment. One might as well take advantage of the teams being so close together.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tonight's game

I would have liked to have seen tonight's Argos game in person, however it just didn't work out. So I'll be watching the Cats for the first time on TV this year. It will be interesting to see what the commentators have to say, especially the TSN panel.

First off, last I heard, the Cats were 10.5 point underdogs. If I could chuck all my sentimentality and was just looking to win, I would take the Argos to cover the spread, based on what I saw last week. The Argos have a better defence than Montreal, however their bend not break philosophy may benefit the Cats with some longer, run supported drives in the first half. We can only hope.

Another reason for pessimism, is the Cats Canadian injury problems. With Guard Cedric Gagne-Marcoux (at least I'm pretty sure he's a guard) out for quite a while with a fractured shoulder, the Cats may play an import Guard. Ouch. So that's two Tackles and a Guard as imports. I know having Lumsden as a starter makes you more apt to have another import on the offensive line to boost the run blocking, but that's just sad. DE McKay-Loescher might be out with a bad back, adding even more ratio problems. This is probably why Woodcock is starting, considering the dregs the Cats have for import receivers. Why have a tool like JoJo (are both J's capitalized? if a resume passed by your desk, would he even get a look?) Walker as your fourth receiver? Where's Bauman and why is he injured all the time? I'm guessing Beveridge starts at safety. The Argos are pretty damn lucky to have two starting Canadian linebackers. So anyways, weak Canadian talent. What else is new?

On offense, the Cats have to establish at least a semblance of a running game, and Printers has to have a similar completion percentage. I think he also has to run more than three times this week and take first downs if the Argos are willing to give it to them. Actually go for it on third and one and convert. That's about it.

On defense, I think a lot depends on how the Argo quarterbacks play. I think Joseph presents more of a problem than Bishop because of his running ability. The last few years, the Cats have given up quite the number of QB rushing first downs. I suggest blitzing the odd time with a DB and dropping back an end or a linebacker into coverage on the opposite side. Joseph's throwing ability is not that remarkable, and any chance to rough up 34 year old quarterback, you take it. Bishop will probably play at some point. Bishop generally has a rather feeble completion percentage (52.1 % last year), but kills you with three or four bombs for TDs. The Cats need pressure to force Bishop into bad throws and hopefully interceptions. One last point, the Cats have to stop on second and long (which I define as over and including 2nd and eight). I'll try and keep track tonight of these situations for both the Argos and Cats tonight. Uh, Moreno needs a monster game, preferably with an interception. That's about it.

Frankly, I'll be happy if the Cats beat the spread. Good luck Cats.