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.

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