Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ticat Canada Day Depth Chart Analysis

The Cats have posted their depth chart for tomorrow's game against the Argos at Ivor Wynne. The Cats haven't named a starting quarterback yet to keep the Argos guessing, although Porter seems to be the favourite to start.

On offense, there are five of the seven mandated Canadian starters. Dyakowski, Hage and Gagne-Marcoux make up the interior of the line. Gauthier starts at left tackle. The last Canadian spot on offense is where things get strange. When the Cats play four receivers and a fullback, the starting fullback is listed as John 'Star Wars' Williams, with Mac product Sadeghian backing up and Ticat draft pick Darcy Brown from St. Mary's being the backup backup. Starting Williams seems odd considering he was released before camp and then brought back at the end of training camp. Likely they knew what they had in Williams, a career special teams player, thought correctly no other team would pick him up, used the training camp roster spot to evaluated someone else and then brought him back when camp was done. That makes sense if all he was going to do was play special teams, but one would figure if he was going to be the starting fullback, it would be better to get some reps at training camp. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

When the Cats have five receivers and no fullback, Dave Stala is listed as the starting slotback, with Bauman backing him up. Stala always seemed to burn us when he played for Montreal. Considering the Williams situation, maybe the Cats will go with five receiver sets more often.

Former Bomber import Dan Goodspeed is in at right tackle for what is hopefully an improved line over last year's. Caulley and Smith are listed as the starting running backs. Perhaps the Cats will play some two back sets with Stala as the fourth receiver. At receiver is Rodriguez and Airese Currie, who I know virtually nothing about. Chris Davis is the import slot and McDaniel will play the other slot when a Canadian full back is in.

All in all probably a better offense starting in game one than last year, although the receiving corps doesn't seem that amazing.

On defence, the two Canadians are Matt Kirk as one of the tackles and Sandy Beveridge listed ahead of Dylan Barker at safety. I'm curious to see what the other CFL teams do in terms of Canadian starters on defence and offense. Obviously with the offensive line, more of the nonimport starters will be Canadian.

At end, Khari Long, a career NFL practice squad player and Justin Hickman who also seems to be a career NFL practice squad player, although Long seems to have the more distinguished of practice squad careers if you had to compare. No CFL experience prior to training camp. What are the odds these guys will be the starters by the end of the season? Adams in at the other tackle position and likely the best of the line considering his eight sacks last year.

At lineback, Markeith Knowlton and Otis Floyd at the two outside positions, with newcomer Dennis Haley at middle over Canadian Barrenechea. Haley has some legit NFL experience, however having him start at middle linebacker is a question mark. How the Cats do will depend on how well Haley plays in the middle.

At the corners, Bo Smith and Gordon. At the halfback Thomson and Tisdale, with Thomson having had nine picks last year. Tisdale had two interceptions.

The back eight (as opposed to the front seven) appear to be decent on defence, with how Haley plays being important. Once again the front four is the wildcard. I'm not sure the linebackers and defensive backs are good enough to compensate for a feeble line. Maybe Obie will prove me wrong, but his offseason task of finding guys how can play legit end seems to be a load of fail.

We'll see how things go tomorrow. I predict a lot of penalties against the Cats.

Hamilton Tigercats Season Tickets 2009

Here's a photo I took of my 2009 season tickets, with the fan photo submissions on each ticket.

Final Preseason Power Rankings

I did one earlier set of preseason power rankings and always meant to do more. So one day before the kickoff of the 2009 CFL season here are my rankings:

1. Calgary
2. BC
3. Montreal
4. Edmonton
5. Toronto
6. Saskatchewan
7. Hamilton
8. Winnipeg

Calgary looks good again this year and BC should still be decent. Montreal will probably get back to the Grey Cup if only because their competition in the East will be feeble this year, although I expect Cavillo's age will hurt them a bit down the stretch (yes I do say that every year). Some people are impressed with Edmonton this year, I'm not particularly, regardless of what Jesse Lumsden does this year. Toronto is probably ranked higher than one would think, but somehow they often end up near 0.500 and the bottom four teams have to be ranked in some order. Saskatchewan will get shellacked by in their own conference games. Hamilton, while being better than last year, won't unfortunately be that much better. Winnipeg will be a disaster, but they probably will improve towards the end of the year.

Just an update, I never did find who got what penalties in the last preseason game against Toronto. After the Toronto game tomorrow, I will look at who got what penalties, based on import status and whether they are a raw CFL rookie (five years of NFL experience doesn't count for this analysis). And I will do it for both teams.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Final Cutdown

I haven't said anything about the final cuts down to the regular season roster, so I suppose I should say something. Guillory who played defensive end for Edmonton last year and got six sacks in nine games was probably the big surprise. The Cats appear to be going with defensive ends with some NFL rather than CFL experience, which strikes me as odd. I'll write about the new guys tomorrow or later today, but personally I feel that end is a position that rewards consistency in the CFL. There's a high probability of making offsides penalties at the position, especially for an import with no experience with the yard off the ball rule in the CFL. I'll go out on a limb and predict that there will be an offsides penalty by an end in tomorrow's game. At least Guillory has CFL experience. Going with double inexperience at end strikes me as continuing the pattern of our team for five years. Try endless new guys, watch them fail, get new guys, rinse, repeat. I really hope I'm wrong.

There could be a salary camp angle to this, as Guillory was probably signed for a lot more than his replacements for this year. Sometimes I wonder if teams will give out contracts in the offseason that puts them over the cap, figuring that they will release at least a couple of them in camp. Probably not a bad strategy. I'm curious to see if Guillory will end up getting picked up somewhere before the season is out.

Bekasiak getting cut I suppose wasn't much of a surprise. First the Cats had him on the offensive line, then the defensive line and then back on the offensive line in this year's camp. Seems like a bit of a waste of a fourth overall pick, but that's how the draft goes sometimes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

David Naylor's Football Blog

David Naylor has a new football blog (both CFL and NFL) over at the Globe and Mail. He has an interesting post about how the backers of the Lansdowne Live proposal to bring back the CFL to Ottawa (again) are also backing the return of CIS football to Carleton. This is a good plan, both for optics and for increasing the amount of Canadian talent available in the CFL. Frankly, the CFL could do more to support CIS football, including trying to start more university programs (funding more minor football wouldn't hurt either). In Ontario, Brock doesn't have a football team currently but has a decent number of Hamilton students. Maybe the Cats and the CFL could get involved in trying to start a team there, although admittedly it wouldn't be easy.

Naylor has another post asking if there is another team in pro sports where the fans consistently wear jerseys of past players rather than current stars. Certainly I think Ticat fans wear such past player jerseys, but I think part of the reason is the crapitude of the team over the recent era and the massive turnover even among good players. Case in point, a Zeke Moreno jersey. Good player, good nickname, good candidate for getting a jersey, suddenly gone. Picking a current player on the Cats is a real crap shoot and frankly a Setta jersey as mentioned in the post does have more certainty that he will stay around for a few years than other players. How many Timmy Chang or Casey Printers jerseys were bought and then cast aside?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kenton Keith's Injury

So we all know now that Kenton Keith's injury on the first day of camp actually was serious and that he will be placed on the nine game injury list. According to the Spec, Keith has already had surgery for a torn lateral collateral ligament in one of his knees. Obviously this is unfortunate for the Cats and continues their habit of winning mid-season bidding wars for former CFL stars cut from NFL teams and having those players not pan out (Casey Printers come one down!).

Another facet of this injury is the fact, that while Jesse Lumsden was often maligned in Ticat land as the Glassman, running backs are often injured. With Terry Caulley and Tre (yes despite my first name, I am Caucasian) Smith still around, the Cats should still be decent at running back. However the hope with Keith was that his receiving skills out of the backfield could make for a much improved Ticat offense. Caulley and Smith don't seem to have as much upside there, but now they have half the season to try and prove that they are the number one back.

I'm actually most interested in the salary cap implications of this injury. Going on the nine game injury list means that for those nine games, Keith's salary does not contribute to the salary cap. Likely there were also bonus performance clauses in his contract based on the number of games, TDs or yards that are unlikely to be triggered with only nine games possible to be played. Keith is likely one of the most highly paid Cats so it makes one wonder where that salary cap room will now be spent. Potentially you could offer a bit more cash to defensive lineman Corey Mace, the former Buffalo Bill acquired in the Moreno trade with Winnipeg. However O'Billovich seems to have drawn a line in the sand and is willing to let Mace rot. Likely as in past years, a former CFL player who has gone down to the NFL will get cut as the final rosters are set and the Cats could use the cap room to front load a contract in a bidding war. However, based on the lack of success the Cats have had with this route in the past, it might be better for the Cats to forgo these quick solutions and just give higher pay to their current stars and free agents. Especially considered that by the time they are released from the NFL, their skills may actually be on the downside of when they were in the CFL.

One last thing about Kenton Keith, whenever I see his name I think wouldn't it make more sense for it to be Keith Kenton? Apparently there is a famous band leader called Stan Kenton, so Kenton is a valid last name. I feel vindicated. Interestingly, Stan Kenton was considered to be fairly controversial as a band leader in terms of music, which seems somewhat strange nowadays. I suppose back then there was no heavy metal, punk, or the like so the Al Jourgensens of the time would have been big band musicians. Certainly a big band arrangement of Stigmata or Thieves would be something to hear.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ivor Wynne, Season Ticket Pickup Party

Another photo. I got to walk through the giant helmet! I did wonder how heavy it was, but resisted the urge to try and topple it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ivor Wynne, Season Ticket Pickup Party

Photo from the Season Ticket Pickup Party at Ivor Wynne a few weeks ago.


Listening to the Fifth Quarter, and lots of mention of all the penalties tonight. Generally I think part of it is a consequence of a lot of turnover on the Cats over the past few years, especially the imports. American rookies are ridiculously prone to making penalties because they don't know the Canadian rules. Maybe if I get the chance, I'll go over who got the penalties in this game, imports or non-imports. I'm guessing the imports are overrepresented, although they are overrepresented at certain positions that may be more prone to penalties.

Interesting to see that Calgary released former Ticat linebacker Jojuan Armour for practice violence. I always liked Armour and never doubted he wanted to win.

Ticat Incompetance

Ok, I'm in Miami listening to the Cats preseason game on CHML (frankly I would much rather be in Hamilton), and the Cats go on third down and need two. Caulley gets stopped for a loss. This makes me wonder how the Cats season will go this year. Last year, the Cats were totally incompetent at third and short situations at key times. As Ron Lancaster has said, and I always quote, "if you can't get a yard, you don't deserve to win." The Cats aren't going to have a decent record this year until they figure out how to make these plays in crucial situations.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winnipeg Preseason Game

I don't really have a lot to say about the first preseason game. Usually with that you're figuring out who will actually make the roster versus who will be starting. Obviously the next preseason game in Hamilton will give a lot more information about the season. One thing we do know is that we won't go 2 and 0 in the preseason this year, unlike the past two years.

Apparently Jesse Lumsden didn't get even in the first preseason game. It will be interesting to see how Edmonton uses him this year, running him hard versus sparingly with 12 to 16 carries a game.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hamilton at Winnipeg, Preseason Action

Apparently at the website of the Winnipeg Free Press, there's a live web feed of the game. I'm not sure of the quality, but interesting to see nonetheless. Regarding the eventual outcome, the Cats have been 2 and 0 the last few preseasons and that really hasn't worked out for them too much. Maybe they will go 0 and 2 and have a winning record in the preseason.

Players to watch for: Richie Williams, anyone on the defensive line for the Ticats, the other Winnipeg QBs as they will determine how the Bomber season goes (and thus partly how the Ticats do), and maybe Dave Stala at receiver for Hamilton. Finally after many months, the Ticats are back.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BMO Stadium, Not Total POS

I attended a Toronto FC game against the weekend for the first time. I mainly went to see what the BMO stadium was like in terms of construction. My impression of it from the Gardiner and the alleged cost, was of a rickety steel POS unfit for a US NCAA Division 3 football team. However actually going to the stadium, it was considerably more solid and better put together than I thought. Bodes well for an eventual new Ticat stadium tied up with the Pan Am games, although BMO is lacking the faded grandeur of Ivor Wynne and I do wonder what the shelf life of it is.

In terms of the atmosphere, the chanting was amusing although I'll admit with a rather boring game you have to amuse yourself somehow. I did laugh at a banner in the so called supporter section saying the Red Patch whatevers didn't want to pay to keep MLSE in the black or something. Uh, you're in the stadium, I think you're contributing to MLSE's bottom line. As someone who splits his time between North America and Europe, I say you're better off attending the real thing in Europe rather than a MLSE manufactured experience. Also very few children at the game, although I thought I saw one sitting in front of me. However my sister told me later it was a little person, not an actual child.

In Ticat news, Dexter Manley II was released by the Ticats. Certainly a fair amount of journalistic ink was spilled for a guy released before the first exhibition game. Sometimes I wish journalists would just come out and say a guy is a freaking longshot.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CFL on US Television

Over the past few years, it is fairly well know that the feckless CFL has bungled their television rights in the US. Right now, they're on America One, which apparently isn't much of a channel, plus ESPN360, which seems to be some bizarre cable internet hybrid channel that seems unlikely that Americans are going to be flipping by and stopping to watch.

This forum posting by some American football fans I found interesting. Clearly there are some hardcore football fans that would watch the CFL at this time of year, especially with there being no Arena League this year. Note the one forumer saying he had never heard of America One. Or those hoping to see Richie Williams of all people. Certainly if the CFL could get their Friday night football package carried on a semi-widely available station like Versus (currently carrying that niche product in the US, the NHL), they could get some viewers who are hardcore football fans and prefer to watch it over baseball in the summer. Plus if they could do any sort of localized marketing to fans of specific college teams whose recent stars star in the CFL at present they could probably bump up the viewship additionally.

The CFL has a decent product that is undervalued and undermarketed and the US television opportunities are just another example. Too bad a CFL journalist doesn't write an article on this including an interview with the commissioner.

Here's a page indicating there's a conspiracy theory against showing the CFL in the US. I think it is more CFL incompetance personally. Ironically (at least for me) one of the commenters wants CFL preseason games broadcast. Looks like I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ticat Assorted Stuff

In the recent Ticat season ticket holder email, it mentions that season ticket holders can buy tickets for the opener against the Argos for 10% off the regular price. The Cats seem to be making more of an effort to add value to being a season ticket holder, including increasing the prices of single tickets. I think this makes a lot of sense, as season ticket holders are committed for the season, despite the record of the club. Which frankly has been remarkably poor of late.

The Cats are also offering two tickets to the preseason game versus the Argos, when you buy an apparel item at the TigerTown store. This is also a good idea. You don't want to devalue your regular season product by papering the stadium too much, however a preseason game doesn't really have a lot of value anyways. Getting more people into the stadium, besides the season ticket holders means more revenue from concessions and merchandise and also gets people thinking about attending regular season games. I'm not sure of the amount that the average fan spends per game on concessions and merchandise, but it is probably above $10.

One thing I'm not crazy about is the fact the preseason game takes place on a Tuesday. I know the scheduling is probably difficult, but a Friday or Saturday would have been superior. Last year it was a Thursday.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Corey Mace, Ticat Ever?

Drew Edwards has a good article in the Spec about the Corey Mace situation. He's the defensive tackle and second round draft pick acquired from Winnipeg in the Moreno trade who has spent the last two years on the Buffalo Bills practice roster and then sent packing.

Seems like the Cats and his agent are far apart. Demanding a one year and an option deal so he could possibly go back to the NFL next year seems a little ballsy considering there seems to be no demand for him there this year. I can understand chasing the NFL money, but at a certain point reality has to rear its ugly head and one has to realize the dream is dead, Rudy be damned. Missing camp isn't going to help either. Maybe the Cats should just let him rot this year.

Former Cat JoJuan Armour will play middle linebacker this year, after winning a Grey Cup last in Calgary playing weakside linebacker. The Cats might have had a better defence last year if they had kept Armour, although all the cash laid out for Casey Printers probably made it impossible.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Saskatchewan Roughriders Profitable Again

There's an article here going over the Roughriders financials from last year. They made a profit exceeding $1.6 million this year, which was similar to the previous year. Interesting that their gross revenues were up 23.9% to $28.2 million. That's a lot for a CFL club (especially considering the salary cap is only in the $4 million range). Ticket revenues were $8.3 million, which is impressive, but probably more impressive is the $6.5 million in merchandise sales. That's close to $6.50 for every Saskatchewan citizen, so I guess not having been there for a while, that Saskatchewan is a sea of green.

Expenses were also up. "Overall expenses were $26.4 million. The 26.7-per-cent increase in expenses was attributed to infrastructure improvements and initial planning for the team's 100th-anniversary celebration in 2010." How much are they spending on their anniversary celebration? Seems like they may be trying to understate their profits somewhat.

Richie Williams Signs in the Peg

Apparently former Ticat fan favourite Richie Williams signed in Winnipeg
after the Bombers released QB Ryan Dinwiddie (who helped me win $50 in Vegas during Grey Cup 2007 when the Bombers covered the spread). Good luck to Richie. Who knows he could end up being the starter in Winnipeg in a short period of time.

Former Alouette running back Jarret Payton is at Toronto's camp. The Argos really love the retreads don't they? Still Payton was decent for Montreal, the Argos running game has sucked for the past while and the Argos signing of offensive tackle Rob Murphy from BC should improve their offensive line. Although I suspect the interior of the oline might be a little suspect.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Various Ticat Links and Comments

Rookie camp starts to today down at Mac (or at least they report). First look at this year's draft picks and as I've said, they can't do worse than last year.

I haven't mentioned it yet, but it looks like Argo Mike Vanderjagt has hung up the kicking tee. Sad that Ticat fans won't be able to make anymore Vandershank jokes anymore. Although why Ticat staff would remove a Vandershank sign from Ivor Wynne as they did in a Ticat Argo game last year is beyond me. If a fan is willing to make the effort to make a sign, encourage it. It isn't like Vandershank is an expletitive or anything.

Commisioner Cohon is talking about implementing drug testing for 2010. I'm hoping it is just for performance enhancing drugs and not pot and coke.

Not sure I get this analyst's point on the salary cap (although it seems to be reminiscent of the Alouette's owner Rober Wetenhall's thoughts on the salary cap). I prefer the cap as it is and it seems to be working well.

Also there's an article from the Star's pseudo Argo beat report Chris Zelkovich
on how the CFL is not having to deal with major issues this year.

Finally it was interesting to see that former CFL commisioner Tom Wright wrote Balsillie's NHL application. Weird to see that the CFL has a 3% following in Phoenix. Snowbirds? Desparate football fans? Sad that the CFL can't get its act together with regards to decent coverage on American television (ESPN 360 wtf?).

Season Ticket Pickup

OK, so I went to the season ticket pickup party on Sunday at Ivor Wynne. Not that exciting, although if you had children they probably would have liked it. I did get to go on the field and enter through the giant helmet which was cool. Didn't see any players, although I arrived more towards the end. Saw some the cheerleaders and looked at some game worn jerseys of players no longer with the team (all right a Ryan Glasper jersey!). Angelo Mosca did sit at the table next to me at Rankin's afterwards (which apparently closes in the summer for Sundays now, which didn't make a lot of sense considering how busy it was). Mosca's daughter was a babysitter of mine a long time ago when I lived on the alledgedly mean streets of East 38th on the East Mountain.

Afterwards in Rankin's I discovered the envelope had a bunch of coupons and stuff as usual, but no season tickets. However the Cats called the next day, saying "hey, missing your tickets," so all's well that ends well. Photos to follow.