Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gibson and Burrato Gonzo

Drew Edwards is reporting in the Spec that offensive coordinator Mike Gibson and offensive line coach and serial CFL retread Steve Burrato are gone from the Ticats.

Can't say I'm sorry to see them gone, but going into the season I expected a bit more from the Cats offence. Statwise the offensive results seemed OK, but for me, one thing that was lacking was conversion on third and short. This season there seemed to be a lot of key failures in that situation that cost the Cats games that didn't show up much on the score sheet (OK they show up as turnovers, but players can still rack up good individual stats).

Will Gibson's replacement end up doing better next season? Unlike in previous years, I'm not so sure.

Toronto at Hamilton, East Semi-Final 2010

A bit late, but here's a few photos I took of the East semi-final against Toronto at Ivor Wynne. Some what depressing thinking about that game and losign to Cleo "the Party" Lemon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Alouettes Repeat

I managed to catch Montreal's 21 to 18 victory on the radio. Not a huge fan of football on the radio as I find I end up getting distracted between plays, especially if the Cats aren't playing. I'm wondering if I had a Telus phone and Wifi if I would have been able to watch it on my phone here in Chile.

Not really a lot to say about the game, the Alouettes were better in the second half. The Alouettes repeated as champions to me proves one truism, to win Grey Cups try to be decent every year. That sounds obvious, but for the other three North American leagues with 30 plus teams you're better to shoot for mediocrity one year and greatness another if you're trying to maximize the number of championships. In the CFL, just keep getting in there, the probabilities are bound to work out sooner or later.

Calvillo's post game announcement of a thyroid condition is a bit strange, but it does sound like he's coming back unless it is really bad. I'm betting on Cahoon to retire as his play dropped off considerably this year. He had 703 yards receiving this year compared to 1031 in 2009. That means the Als have to find a new Canadian receiver, although Cahoon probably receives a decent salary so some cap space is opened up.

One still has to favour Montreal to win the East next year, although the Cats will probably be closer. The Argos still have a quarterback situation to deal with. Winnipeg, well good luck with Buck Pierce.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grey Cup Prediction, Montreal versus Saskatchewan

Due to being in Chile the best I can hope for is listening to the game over a bad internet connection. The latest line I've seen is 3.5 points in favour of Montreal which came down over the week. I would favour Montreal as well. Generally when they've had to play well they did, including last week's dismantling over the Argos. The Riders are a lot more consistent than the Argos and have an offensive attack that can challenge the Alouettes. I do think it will be close.
Alouettes 29, Saskatchewan 27

Friday, November 26, 2010

Knowlton Wins Best Defensive Player Award

Congrats to Markeith Knowlton on winning the CFL's best defensive player award. When was the last time a Cat won this award? Joe Montford, in 2001.

Some decent ratings for the West and East finals. The East still has some ways to go, although with the Riders in the West game it is a tough comparison.

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Joy in Mudville, Ticats Lose to the Argos

Watching the Cats lose to the Argos 16 to 13 yesterday at Ivor Wynne was certainly frustrating. Turnovers certainly cost Hamilton. Thigpen's fumbles were crucial, as was Glenn's first interception. Penalties weren't kind to the Cats either.

The turning point though was on the Argos last series where they started at three and managed to drive a good way down the field into the win. If the Cats had been able to stop them at any point earlier, making the tying field goal would have been much easier.

Bauman had another good game with 108 yards on five catches. McDaniel had a decent game with 7 catches for 85 yards, while Bruce had 76 yards on seven catches. Stala only had two for 22 yards. Bauman's is very likely gone after this season.

The Cats should still be a decent team next year. If Calvillo retires we might even be the preseason favourites for the East.

Anyways, more analysis to come.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ticat Game Day, East Semifinals

The Ticat offensive line has been stable for quite a while. Gauthier and import Jimenez at tackle, Dyakowski and Rottier at guard and Hage at centre.

Mann and Bruce are listed as the wideouts, with McDaniel and non-import Stala as the slots. Carter is listed ahead of Bauman as a backup receiver.

Glenn starts at quarterback, with Cobb as the running back and Schmidt as the non-import fullback. That's six non-import starters on offense.

Hickman and Baggs are the ends, with McIntyre and Bolden in the middle. Non-import Reid backs up.

Knowlton, Floyd and Johnson are the linebackers as they have been all season.

Non-imports Hinds and Tisdale are the corners. Dennis and Shivers are listed as the defensive backs, with non-import Barker as the safety. That's two non-import starters on defence. Deangelis kicks and Wilbur punts.

For the Argos offensive line, import Murphy and Mac product Van Zeyl are the tackles, with former Cat Gagne-Marcoux andRobertson as the guards and Picard as the centre.

Rideau and Owens are the starting wide receivers. Copeland and McNeal are the slots. Lemon starts at QB (with Burlingtonian Brannigan as the third stringer), with Boyd as the running back/fullback and non-import Durie as the running back/slotback. That's five non-import starters on offense.

Non-import Foley and Flemons are the starting defensive ends, with Huntley and Taylor in the middle.

Younger, non-import and Mac product Pottinger and non-import Eiben are the starting linebackers.

Smalls and Parker are the starting corners. McCollough and Shell are the defensive backs, with Pile the starting safety. That's three non-import starters on defence, eight total.

Prefontaine kicks and punts.

The CFL will honour veteran's today at the two games.

Last time the Cats won a playoff game? Apparently 2001 according to this Scott Radley article. Ouch.

CFL Predictions, Division Semifinals

Toronto at Hamilton,
Hamilton is favoured by 6.5 points at home, which seems a little high. Hamilton has lost two coming in, while Toronto has won one. The Ticats are 5 and 4 at home, while the Argos are 5 and 4 on the road. The Argos are still starting Cleo "the Party" Lemon, who has passed for 3,433 yards going 285 for 462, a not terrible 61.7% completion rating. 15 TDs to 19 picks certainly isn't good. Glenn went 388 for 602 (64.5%) for 5,102 yards with 33 TDs and 17 interceptions. Amusingly both teams ended up with 9 and 9 records despite the quarterback disparity.

Toronto has a chance if Cory Boyd gets hot and they get excellent special teams play and don't fall behind early. That's a lot to count on. Hamilton wins their first playoff game in quite some time.
Hamilton 29, Toronto 25

BC at Saskatchewan,
The Riders are favoured by 4 points at home, where they are a stellar 7 and 2. The Lions do sport a good 5 and 4 away record. BC is 7 and 3 over the last ten games and has won their past 3. The Riders have a one game winning streak, ending the Eskimos' season. BC has some good offensive weapons, but quarterback Travis Lulay isn't as good as Saskatchewan pivot Darian Durant. There's a chance of a BC upset, but the Riders are a different team at home.
Saskatchean 33, BC 27

End of Regular Season Power Rankings

1. Calgary
You can't really argue with a 13 and 5 team that was relatively hot down the stretch and has both a good offense and defence. Odds on favourite for to take the Grey Cup.
2. Montreal
Finished 12 and 6, but a little weak down the stretch when it didn't matter. Lost last week to the Argos, but they rested pretty much everyone apart from the long snapper. Heavy on playoff experience.
3. Saskatchewan
Somewhat shaky down the stretch, but they managed to beat the Eskimos last week where a win would have put Edmonton in the playoffs. Hurt by injuries of late and a bad road record at 3 and 6.
4. Hamilton
Up and down over the last part of the season. Lost a close one last week against a BC team that had to win. Some injuries, where earlier in the season they were remarkably healthy. Above average offense and defence.
5. BC
Went 7 and 3 over the last ten games. Won on the road when they had to last week. Quarterback Travis Lulay seems to be developing OK. Good road record.
6. Toronto
Good defence and special teams. Bad offense, bad starting quarterback in Cleo "the Party" Lemon. Better than one would expect from last year's team.
7. Edmonton
Terrible at the start, mediocre at the end of the season.
8. Winnipeg
Can things get worse than having Michael Kelly as your coach. The Bombers proved that last year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

CFL East All-Star Selections

I suppose I should say something about the CFL East all-star selections. Nine Alouettes being selected obviously makes sense. Seven Argos is a bit dubious, but Toronto was strong on defence and special teams and sucked on offense, so some of the defensive and special teams players making does make a certain amount of sense. Strange that the Ticats only had four players, Bruce, Stala, Hage and Knowlton. Especially only one defensive player making the squad, considering the Cats ended up with a decent defence by the end of the season.

But what it is really weird is Winnipeg a 4 and 14 team having seven players. I certainly don't remember the Cats having many all-stars during their 3 and 13 seasons. In a four team division you're going to see some weirdness I guess. Plus a lot of it is based on racking up stats by playing your position the entire season.

Here's a CBC article on the history of Argo Ticat playoff football.

Here's a TSN article singing the praises of Ticat receiver Chris Bauman who ended the regular season with 298 yards and 3 TDs. Hopefully he has a good post-season.

Finally looks like Richie Hall is out as the Edmonton Eskimos coach. If he had won last week to get in the playoffs but then lost against the Riders on Sunday, would he still have a job? Hard to say. Edmonton was pretty mediocre considering they had a bona fide starting quarterback, which is a lot more than the Argos had and they managed to eke out nine wins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comparison of 2009 and 2010 Ticat Attendance

Two 9 and 9 seasons back to back make it a bit more convenient to compare attendance for this year and last year. Here's the 2010 regular season attendance game by game with the opponent:

Calgary 25,248
Winnipeg 21,408
Winnipeg 23,653
Toronto 30,319
Montreal 23,452
Saskatchewan 23,108
Edmonton 20,791
Montreal 23,118
BC 23,931
Total 215,028 (23,892 Average)

Besides the Labour Day, the next biggest was the Calgary game with 25,248. Strangely the game against BC last weekend was third with 23,931 attending. It didn't look like a bad crowd but it didn't look like a great crowd either so I'm wondering if this number is a bit suspect. I did see more BC fans than I expected including some at the Prince Edward Tavern following the game.

The Edmonton game at 20,791 was the low point, but Edmonton was relatively weak at that point in the season. No sub 20,000 games this year. The Rider game was weaker than last year. I blame this on the fact the Riders played back to back in Toronto and Hamilton this year. Spreading out the games would probably maximize Southern Ontario Rider fan attendance. Plus Saskatchewan is the richest team in the league, so don't bother trying to save them money by doing Hamilton and Toronto on one road trip.

Toronto 23,211
Winnipeg 24,292
BC 20,103
Edmonton 19,206
Toronto 30,293
Calgary 19,448
Montreal 22,083
Winnipeg 19,562
Saskatchewan 24,586
Total 202,784 (22,532 Average)
Compared to the 2010 opener, the 2009 was significantly smaller and had an ostensibly better opponent in Toronto. Hopefully the Cats can build on this and make the opener their second Labour Day. Three sub 20,000 games in 2009 were a big difference from 2009. In terms of teams, BC and Calgary were up significantly from 2009.

Overall the attendance was up by a healthy 6% in 2010. It will probably be difficult in getting as large a percentage bump in 2011 since the 2009 team was significantly improved over the 2008 version which likely showed up in higher ticket sales for 2010. A 3% increase is probably a realistic goal.

Hamilton Tigercats Cheerleaders

Here's a photo set from the game on Saturday.

Bizarre that Jesse Lumsden tore his ACL playing for Calgary on the weekend and is done for the season. There's not really much to say.

Kudos to Andy Fantuz for being the first non-import to lead in receiving yards (1380) since the Stamps Dave Sapunjis in 1995 (1655). That pretty much locks down the best Canadian award for him. Congratulations also to the Ticats' Dave Stala who finished 12th overall in receiving with 1,023. Sadly Marquay McDaniel finished with 994 yards. Six yards. Ouch.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BC at Hamilton

I suppose after the disappointment of yesterday's 23 to 21 loss at Ivor Wynne to the BC Lions I should say something. Somewhat pathetic that the team couldn't drive into field goal range at the end of the game. They certainly had enough time. Sad the team couldn't win with Glenn out there the entire time. Sad that Porter couldn't make a key third down conversion on a sneak.

At least Stala picked up the yards he needed for 1000 on the season, but 28 yards on three passes isn't too impressive. McDaniel had a shot at 1000 yards as well, but blew it, only getting 29 yards on 3 catches. Certainly the ball was thrown enough his way. Cobb had 36 yards on ten attempts which doesn't bode well for the playoffs.

Bright spots were Mann with 115 yards on 6 catches with 2 TDs, no doubt receiving the ball more due to Bruce's injury. Bauman caught three passes for 95 yards which was also nice and shows the depth the Cats have at receiver this year. Jermaine Reid, in for the injured Kirk was a force with five tackles and two sacks and seemed to be almost playing every down. Maybe the Cats should have been using him all season.

Ultimately disappointing that the Cats finished with the same regular season record as 2009 at 9 and 9. Hopefully fans will take note of this and not continue the Bellefeuille lovefest that seems to have been going on this season.

The Cats finished the season with 481 points scored and 450 points against. Depending on how the Toronto Montreal tilt goes, the Cats do have a chance for the least amount points against in the CFL. So that's something. Photos of the game should be up by tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

CFL Predictions, Week 19, Part A

Calgary at Winnipeg,
Calgary being the best team in the league and Winnipeg the worst, one might think I'm picking Calgary. You're right.
Calgary 40, Winnipeg 13

Edmonton at Saskatchewan,
The Riders are favoured by 1.5 points at home, but Edmonton needs to win to get in the playoffs and keep alive the slim hope of playing for the Grey Cup at home. Edmonton has won three straight while the Riders have lost four. Not sure if Ray or Zabransky is starting for the Eskimos. I'll go with the hot team that needs to win.
Edmonton 28, Saskatchewan 24

Monday, November 1, 2010

CFL Power Rankings, Week 18

1. Calgary
After their dismantling of a hot Ticat team, with at least up until this game, a great defence, the Stampeders have to be considered the best team in the CFL. Especially considering the Hamilton game didn't really mean much.
2. Montreal
The game didn't mean much, but they managed to come from behind and beat the Argos in Hogtown. Still a last second victory over a Cleo "the Party" Lemon quarterbacked team isn't really saying a lot.
3. Hamilton
Sure they got spanked by Calgary, but the Cats are still relatively hot.
4. Saskatchewan
Losing again, to a BC team at home that needed to win. Still a good team, but definitely second tier now and whereas before they were pretty much a lock to win their home playoff date, things don't look so sure now.
5. Toronto
Had chances to beat the Alouettes at home and keep their home playoff spot alive. Somehow managed to be ahead until Cleo Lemon starts sucking. Bizarre how such a bad offence can still be 8 and 9.
6. BC
Beat a relatively good team in Saskatchewan. Still a mediocre team with a crappy home record.
7. Edmonton
Beat a bad Bomber team in overtime. Sure they control their own destiny, but if against BC this week I wouldn't bet on them.
8. Winnipeg
Worse than last year's Mike Kelly coached team. Ouch.