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.

Reflections on the previous game

Now that a sufficient amount of time has passed since last week's debacle, I think it is time to reflect a bit. First looking at Printer's stats from last week is a small positive, 15 for 21 (71% completion) for 203 yards. That completion ratio is a big improvement over the Maass era (who had a 59.8 % last year), plus an average of 13.5 yards per completion. Again that is an improvement over the Maass era, where short passes short of the first down marker were the norm. One can argue that as the game got out of hand, the Cats were forced to pass, pumping up the stats, however the completion percentage is still high. One would expect that to go down as desperate passes are attempted.

The Ticats poor performance really stemmed from their problems offensively in the first half. Especially in the first quarter, a dropped pass, a fumble and a failed third down gamble really limited the number of offensive plays that were run. This was partially the offence's fault, however the defence didn't help here either. There were numerous times where the defence had Montreal 2nd and long and failed to stop them. If they had managed to stop them, the Cats offence would have had more chances to get going in the first half, possibly win the battle for field position and keep the game closer. This would have also have allowed for more running from Lumsden in the second half (who only had nine carries for 36 yards). I doubt the Cats would have won, however the game would have been more respectable. If your team can't stop 2nd and long, there's no way you are going to win.

Cavillo played a great game, however it is important to remember that Cavillo will soon be 35. Looking over the rest of the season, it is unlikely that Cavillo won't get injured for a period of time, coinciding with a slew of Montreal losses. Montreal is facing a McManus type situation this year. I'm betting the Cats still have a chance to catch them for third place (although the crossover probably takes the playoff spot).

Finally, third and one. The Cats turned the ball over on downs on a key third down in the first half, on a bungled run play to Lumsden, when the ball was in easy sneak range. If the Cats are going to have any chance to win this year, they will have to be automatic on third and one. Printers is a big guy, so there is no reason not to sneak. This needs to be drilled in practice, so there's no doubt. I like gutsy third and one calls, but the Cats can't afford to fail. Not this year, not with this team.