Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winnipeg at Hamilton, Canada Day Opener

So Canada day is here (at least in New Zealand where I am right now) and it is time to go through the lineups for the Cats for their season opener at Ivor Wynne.

Starting with the offensive line for Hamilton, we are now into the two import tackle regime which is a definite change from last year. Jimenez is in at right tackle which isn't a surprise, but rookie Brian Simmons starts at left tackle ahead of fellow import Belton Johnson. I see some illegal procedure calls coming from Simmons, but maybe he will surprise me. I'm a little surprised to see Johnson on the game day roster. I would have thought there would be a non-import backup for roster reasons.

Non-imports Dyakowski and Simeon "the Red Animal" Rottier are back as the guards with non-import Hage back as centre. So not huge changes on the line, but the move to two imports is unusual and indicates either strength at other positions for non-imports or sucking at finding a Canadian tackle. Kind of a glass half full, half empty thing.

At wide receiver, a little bit of a surprise with rookie 6'5" import Aaron Kelly and import Arland Bruce listed as the other receiver. Maurice Mann and non-import Dave Stala are listed as the slotbacks. No McDaniel and I haven't looked as to why.

Glenn starts at quarterback with Porter backing up, Cobourne at running back with Thigpen backing him up and non-import Darcy Brown at fullback. Former linebacker Barrenechea backs him up. That's five offensive non-import starters if you are counting.

On the defensive line, veteran non-imports Baggs and Hickman are back as the ends. With the release of Bolden, almost rookie Albert Smith is the import defensive tackle and second year non-import Eddie Steele is the non-import defensive tackle. So veterans on the ends and noobs in the middle. Hopefully Baggs has a good game today.

The outside linebackers are Knowlton and Johnson and former Rider Williams in the middle, all imports. Hopefully the linebacking core will be a strength this year for the Cats.

Non-import Hinds is back starting at one of the corner spots with import rookie Marcell Young at the other corner spot. Veteran import Dennis is one of the defensive halfbacks, with import Carlos Thomas as the other. Thomas seems to be sort of a rookie, as all he seems to have done so far in the CFL is occupy a practice roster position. I should really look up the definition of rookie in the CFL. Import Shivers is in as safety, which I think is the first import safety for Hamilton in a long time. That's two defensive non-import starters and seven total overall, which is the minimum number. Hamilton better hope for non injuries to their non-import starters.

Not a bad opening lineup. The main question seems to be the secondary and the interior of the defensive line. The offense has enough continuity that the Ticats should be strong out of the gate.

I looked on Winnipeg's site for their lineup, but it is blank right now. If it pops up later, I'll make another post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quick Thoughts on the Montreal Hamilton Exhibition Game

The season ticket holder promotion worked well tonight The stands were not completely full, but they were pretty packed for an exhibition game. The Cats must have some number for what the average fan buys per game in merchandise and concessions, so they can't have done too bad off of it. Plus it gets people out to the stadium before the season starts, which is always good.

Porter looked good, completing some long passes and not just running the ball constantly. On the negative side, McPherson looked good at quarterback for Montreal which is scary.

McDaniel had an OK game and the two Grants were not bad either. Kickers looked good; hard choice between Medlock and Wilbur. Defence didn't seem too bad, although I didn't really notice any standouts.

Beer is 8.75 for a tall boy, which is I think the same as last year. A guy behind me commented on a cheerleader walking by to my seatmate and then soon after managed to spill a full beer on us. Not sure about the cheerleaders long pants, I think may actually prefer the Argo cheerleaders short shorts.

Getting a blowout win even in the pre-season against Montreal is good. Hopefully after a long break the Cats can win the home opener against the Peg.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The US Market and the CFL

I've been meaning to do a post about the CFL and exploiting the US market for a while. This article in the National Post about the NFL network going from carrying 14 games last year to two a week this year (38 games from a nine week season including bye weeks?) seems as good an excuse as any. Hopefully almost all of the games will be carried live, although this quote "The Canada Day game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders will be tape delayed and air on July 2.", gives one pause. What are they airing when the game is actually being played? Taped delayed sports doesn't have a lot of value, for the reasons described in this Chuck Klosterman article in Grantland.

Now on to my main point. On my blog, the number of page views originating fomr the US is 40% of those from Canada (curiously Brazil is number four, I'm not sure if they're searching for CFL light bulbs or getting drawn in by Cleo "the Party" Lemon references). From a bit of analysis, it seems that Americans are often searching for info on former NCAA stars now toiling or being cut (Timmy Chang!) north of the border. Thus there appears to be a ready market of Americans interested at least a little in CFL football. Making it easy for them to watch a game would seem prudent, hence gettin more games on the NFL network is a good step.

One problem is that the players Americans are interested in are very diverse, from big famous schools to tiny universities no one has ever heard of outside their region. How does the CFL get the word out to these potential fans? Not easy, but I think in the long term the CFL needs to eventually move towards a internet streaming model, so that anyone who has an internet connection can watch any CFL game. That means adding in US commercials to games streamed to a US audience. Right now it is easier just to have an entity like the NFL network show the games and handle the ads, but if the CFL wants to maximize the value of the games in the US, it needs to move towards streaming them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ticats at Argos, Meaningless Pre-Season Game

IMG_1836 by philinator
IMG_1836, a photo by philinator on Flickr.
I was at the sparsely attended game at Dead Ted's Dome (aka the Roger Centre) and frankly I didn't learn very much. Quinton Porter looked like Quinton Porter, not too many passes and a lot of running, but not always for first downs. Boltus looked OK, although what would happen if he actually got tossed into a regular season game against regulars is a mystery to me.
I've learned that pre-season games don't mean much, especially the first one. In fact as a I recall the Ticats won both pre-season games during their 3 and 15 seasons, so I think there may actually be a negative correlation between pre-season wins and regular season wins.
The defence seemed pretty mediocre, especially in passing situations. I didn't notice much of a push and the Argo quarterbacks seemed relatively unhurried and had ample time to find receivers. Stevie Baggs didn't play any downs from what I could see, so that's obviously a big difference, but doesn't say much for depth.
Potential running back Milner was decent, rushing and catching passes which is pretty much a necessity to be a successful back in the CFL these days.
Justin Medlock looked good both kicking and punting. I don't think we will miss DeAngelis. Paraphrasing my seatmate, maybe he didn't have to renovate his house.
The Argos looked good, but then they started last year's starter Cleo "the Party" Lemon and left him in for a while, which is a bit unusual for a team's first pre-season game. Lemon is definitely better than he was at the start of last season and if playing on a team with a good defence could be somewhat effective. Dalton Bell didn't look bad either and the Argos as a whole appeared to actually have some receivers, which they didn't last year.
The Argo cheerleaders made me laugh when they switched from skimpy uniforms to skimpier uniforms, pictured above, about midway through the game. Cheerleaders need practice too I guess.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hamilton at Toronto, Pre-Season

Another year of Ticat football begins, with a mix of veterans, hopefuls and no hopers. Starting with the offensive line, we have import Belton Johnson at left tackle, veteran non-imports Dyakowski and Rottier at guard and non-import Mark Dewit at centre who I know nothing about. Import Brian Simmons starts at right tackle as the Ticat experiment with import tackles begins. I'm not a huge fan of this move, as it basically says the team general manager can't come up with one Canadian offensive tackle. Look for a lot of illegal procedure calls initially.

Starting at wide receiver is import Aaron Kelly, another CFL rookie and at the other wideout spot, veteran non-import Matt Carter. With only 137 yards receiving last year, hopefully Carter will step it up. Or get injured. Who knows. At the slots, two import veterans, Marquay "I almost had 1000 yards receiving" McDaniel and Marcus Thigpen who used to be a running back. Maybe he's morphing into an Earl Winfield type player. Kevin Glenn starts at quarterback. Glenn Milner, an import from that bastion of higher learning Central Missouri starts at running back, with non-import veteran Darcy Brown at fullback.

On to the defence. Imports Morrice Richardson and Darius Powell (who seems a little undersized at 225) start at the ends. In the middle, veteran import Demonte Bolden and non-import Eddie Steele who seems to be annoited as a starter this year.

At linebacker, imports Pierre Singfield and Brandon Denson bracketing import Marty Mohamed in the middle. Just guessing, but I would wager only one survives training camp.

Starting at left corner is veteran non-import Ryan Hinds with import Marcell "That's two Ls" Young on the other side. Import vet Jerome Dennis is one of the defensive halfbacks, import Darren Toney who apparently played for BC for one year. Non-import Dylan Barker starts at safety.

I'm too lazy to do the Argos. Sue me. I'll be at the game today, so if I actually see any newcomer Argos who look interesting, I'll mention it later today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Winnipeg at Montreal Pre-Season Game Thoughts

I only watched parts of this game, since trying to watch a CFL pre-season game without your team playing it is not easy. I liked the part where they showed the Montreal Alouette cheerleaders dancing around with gian BMO credit cards, just for the crass commercialism. I'm hoping for something similar from the Ticat cheerleaders this year.

Adrian McPherson looked decent at quarterback for Montreal, which isn't good for Hamilton in case Anthony Calvillo goes down. The Alouettes appeared to have some good young import receivers. Not sure who will step up for the retired Ben Cahoon. I was also surprised to see former Ticat receiver Prechae Rodriguez playing for Montreal. I'll be curious to see if he sticks. His height can be useful, but he strikes me a s a bit one dimensional. Also Sandro DeAngelis wasn't that bad at punting from the one punt I noticed. Montreal traded a first round pick to get Sean Whyte from BC, so I'm not sure who will win out.

Winnipeg looked OK, but I still think they will be mediocre this year, with the amount of mediocrity depending on how many games Buck "the Glassman" Pierce actually plays. I say the over/under is seven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lions at Stampeders Pre-Season Game

Well when things started looking poorly for the Canucks, at least there was this game. Although I think the football team at my high school had more fans in the stands than the Stampeders appeared to tonight.

Non-import quarterback Brad Sinopoli looked OK in one series for Calgary and then poor for the following one. Not much interesting if you're not a Lion or Stampeder fan.

Least Watched Pre-Season Game Ever?

The CFL pre-season kicks off tonight with BC at Calgary, starting at 9 pm EST. The first ever pre-season game broadcast on TSN (OK there was a Touchdown Atlantic pre-season game in Halifax a few years ago, but that was a special event) is going up against the Vancouver Boston Stanley Cup game 7. I'm guessing the folks at TSN might have preferred for the Canucks to have won game 6 so they would have tonight to themselves, but things happen. I suppose if Boston has another monster first period, TSN may get a few people switching back and forth, but this is going to be a low rated game.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jordan Matechuk Commentary

Haven't got around to commenting on Ticat long snapper Jordan Matechuk's steroid arrest at the US border. I suppose the obvious thing to state is that if I have a crapload of steroids amongst other goodies, I'm not going to cut through the US border to save time. Sure the drive on the Ontario side of the Great Lakes is really long and tedious (I remember a somewhat ill-fated childhood journey to Expo 86 along that route, with my parents, my two sisters and one of my cousins and a neurotic German Shepherd in a 1981 Chevrolet Impala so I can understand the desire to save time), but the risk just isn't worth the extra hours of driving.

I suppose the other thing is that it shouldn't be much of a surprise that a CFL player is using steroids. The advantage to using them is significant and the CFL's testing policy isn't stringent. To lower use, there would have to be repeated testing during the pre-season and at training camp. Unfortuantely, with the CFL"s relatively low salaries, the cost of testing isn't justifiable.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jykine Bradley Release

I meant to mention the recent release by the Ticats of defensive back Jykine Bradley. What's interesting to me is that Bradley was 30 when released, which is a relatively advanced age for a defensive back in the CFL. Bradley's performance declined to 15 tackles last year from 34 the previous year so perhaps that's a reason for his release.

One of these days I'll make a post about average ages of starters in the CFL by position. I'm pretty sure that defensive backs, corners in particular will be the youngest. I would guess quarterbacks followed by offensive linemen for oldest starters athough I'm sure kickers and punters will be in there. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of fast cornerbacks to the CFL and once a player has lost even a little step in his late twenties (or maybe making too much money) they are gone since the main skill for corner seems to be outright speed.