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...