Saturday, June 30, 2012

CFL Predictions, Week1, Part B

Toronto at Edmonton
Vegas seems to have this as a pick'em game, so I guess at a neutral site, Toronto would be the stronger team. Toronto should in theory be better than last year, although putting together a lot of new pieces, including a quarterback early is never easy. I don't have a lot of faith in Edmonton this year. Somehow they managed to get a good record, mainly on the back of Fred Stamps receiving. I don't have a lot of confidence in the Eskimos starting quarterback Steven Jyles, so strange as it may seem, I'll go with the Argos.
Argos 25, Eskimos 22

Montreal at Calgary
The Stamps seems to be favoured by three at home. I'm not convinced by Drew Tate yet, I need to see a string of good games before I jump on that chuckwagon. Calvillo played well in last year's Eastern final. It was the defence that failed. After an off-season shakeup, are the Alouette defenders better? I'm not sure, but Montreal GM Jim Popp always seems to find gems. I'll go with the Alouettes in a close one.
Alouettes 28, Calgary 26

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ticats Honk It Up, Lose to Riders 43 to 16

Well that sucked. I didn't go into the game expecting that, but the Cats coughed up another opening night furball and lost at home to the Riders. More annoying was the fact that two Saskatchewan fans were sitting to rows above me squawking all night. At half time I thought, we've got this, but then we played even worse.

I'll say more tomorrow, but the defence wasn't great, especially the front four. They got pressure sometimes, but Durant always seemed to wiggle away. The Riders also often had second and long and found ways to convert. That's never good.

All in all, a poor night for the Cats, one in which poor Ted Michaels is forced to take call after call on the fifth quarter berating the Cats. Next week is in BC too. Ugh.

Riders at Ticats Preview

The CFL season opener takes place in Hamilton tonight and a Ticat team with some differences takes the field tonight at Ivor Wynne for the last season before demolition.

Looking at the offensive line, the Ticats stick with import strategy with the returning Simmons at left and new comer Dile at right. Dyakowski (Canadian genius) is back at right guard, with UBC product Husband at right guard. O'Neill starts at centre. Hage is listed as backup, but I don't know if he will even dress after a long recovery from last season's knee injury.

Reigning rookie of the year Williams and the finally here non-import Giguere start at wideouts, with second year Grant and non-import signing Fantuz at the slots. Stala is a backup although I'm not sure if he will come on with five receiver sets or six. Brown is back as the non-import fullback, although I'm also not sure how many four receiver sets the Cats will run, but I'm sure he will be in for short yardage.

Burris starts (duh), with Porter backing up and no doubt has the sneak job. Cobourne is back as the running back.

The defensive line is a work in progress and all import. Boudreaux and NFL third round pick Crable are the ends, with the returning McElveen and Rose in the middle.

The linebacking corps differs from last year with Johnson and Williams back and non-import and former Argo Eiben. Knowlton is listed as a backup.

Changes from last year on the corner. Rookie Windsor (obviously a non-import) product Bucknor is on one side and the recently acquired former Cat Tisdale on the other. Bucknor wasn't even drafted as far as I can tell, being signed as a free agent. This is unusual and hopefully he won't be burned too badly.

Imports Smith and Young are back as the halfbacks and import Young is back as the safety.

Congi is the kicker and Australian Bartel is the punter. Hopefully Bartel won't be put in some weird situations.

So five non-import starters on offence and two on defence.

The Riders also go with two import tackles in Fulton and Patrick with an all-Canadian interior.

The Riders have an import wideout and slotback, Harper and Dressler with two Canadians, Bagg and Getzlaff at wideout and slot and non-import fullback Hughes. Durant starts at quarterback with Willy (that's his last name) as backup, with Sheets as running back.

Both starting defensive ends are imports, Hawkins and former Bomber Willis, with import George in the middle with non-import Shologan.

For linebacker, the Riders go with two imports on the outside, Brackenridge and rookie Kromah with 2010 number 1 draft pick Shomari Williams in the middle.

The Riders go with an all import secondary, with Jackson and Graham as the corners, Russ and McKenzie as the halfbacks and Patrick as the safety.

Milo is the kicker and punter.

So that's five non-import starters on offence and two on defence, one more than the minimum. That's usually a good sign.

CFL 2012 Predictions, Week 1, Part A

Saskatchewan at Hamilton,
You never really know what teams are going to be like before the season starts. The Riders will probably not be good. I won't say there will be terrible, like 3 and 15 terrible, but I doubt they will be 500. The Cats should have a good enough offense to carry them this year.

That said, I'm pretty sure the Cats will take this one. They are at home, looked good in the pre-season when Burris was at the controls and the Riders were poor during the pre-season and lost Fantuz to the Ticats. Current Vegas odds are the Cats by 7.

Ticats 27, Fantuzless People 18

Winnipeg at BC
BC is coming off a Grey Cup win, playing at home, looked like they were going to lose some players to the NFL and then didn't and have the best quarterback. The Bombers didn't do much of anything in the off-season and don't have ratio breaker Doug Brown to stuff the middle anymore. And their starting running back just exploded his Achilles. Current line is the Lions by 7.5.

Buck Pierce could have a monster game or get injured. You just don't know. I'm going with the Lions.

Left Coast People 23, Mosquito People 16

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's the 2012 Ticats Opening Crowd Going to be?

Scott Mitchell has been quoted saying the Cats have 3,000 more season ticket holders this year. Last year's season opener had 23,852 fans, which isn't bad, but isn't great either. This year has the added bonus of being the last year for Ivor Wynne plus some of the stench from the stadium issue has drifted away. Going into the season, the Cats have appeared to have made some good personal moves.

Saskatchewan is also traditionally a good draw, although I wonder if so early in the season is the best placement for maximizing Rider fans. The Riders could suck this year, so maybe having them in when they are 0-0 and the fans are still delusional could work out better.

I would say over 25,000 is easily doable, but I wouldn't tack on 3,000 to last year's number. I would love to be wrong though.

CFL in 2012 on

@CFL just tweeted that the entire CFL season will be available on Also apparently they are working with another broadcaster.

Looking at the wikipedia entry for ESPN3, it is a strange beast. Who gets it depends on whether their ISP provides it. Also interesting is that Xbox Live Gold members get it. I wonder, no NFL network this year?

CHML Writes the Blog Post I Always Wanted to, Beer Prices Across the CFL

CHML has a post comparing beer prices across the CFL. They're surprisingly close. Unsurprisingly, like real estate, BC has the highest prices. Weirdly Hamilton has slightly higher prices than Toronto. I seem to remember big beers in Dead Ted's Dome (TM) being higher than Ivor Wynne, but that may have been premium beers. Do the Argos even get money from beer sales? I seem to recall no, but who knows.

Also if you look closely, CHML can't do math.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Comments On TSN's Top 50 CFL Players

TSN has published their list of the 50 top players in the CFL and apparently Hamilton sucks. Linebacker Jamall Johnson is the first Ticat at 22, followed by non-import receiver Andy Fantuz at 25, linebacker Rey Williams at 28, quarterback Henry Burris at 32 (ouch), receiver and rookie of the year Chris Williams at 34, linebacker Markeith Knowlton at 39 and finally cast off but back with Cats running back Avon Cobourne at 46. So not a single player in the top 20.

One thing the list isn't great at is measuring Canadian talent, as only the best non-imports will make the list. The Cats Canadian talent this year is good. I wouldn't say it is great, but good.

I think the list also gets right that the Ticat defensive line and secondary are not good. The secondary is somewhat meh and the line is basically an unknown. I predict through the season that the defensive line composition will turn over quite a bit.

For other teams, I can't disagree with Lulay as the best player. John Cornish at ten strikes me as a bit high. Sure his average yards per run is high, but if he carries the ball this year the same number of times as a feature back, that will go down.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

CFL June 2012 Power Rankings, Post Pre Season

Now that the 2012 pre-season is over and the last Canadian quarterback has been released, it is time for the June power rankings.

1. BC Lions
Reigning Grey Cup champions, not a lot of changes from last year and an excellent quarterback under 30 and dominant in the pre-season, things are looking good for the Lions. New coach, but it shouldn't make a difference. Also the team probably won't start 0 and 5 this year.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Didn't look great overall in the pre-season, but the team played well when Henry Burris is in. One of the few teams to have a serviceable backup quarterback. The offense should be good, but the defence is a little suspect, especially the defensive line.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Probably going against consensus, and the Bombers didn't make many moves in the off-season to improve their team. Buck Pierce is a good quarterback, providing he doesn't break a bone or get a concussion or some other injury that can occur at any time. Still a good defence can get you to the Grey Cup (like last year) and is especially effective early in the season.

4. Montreal Alouettes
Is this the season when the wheels finally come off the Alouettes bandwagon? Anthony Calvillo can still play, but is obviously old in football years. The Alouettes also have a decent backup. Like the Cats, the Alouettes offense should be fine, but the Alouette defence last season wasn't great and who knows after big changes what it will be like this season. GM Jim Popp always finds good imports every season so maybe things will turn out OK.

5. Calgary Stampeders
I'm not totally sold on quarterback Drew Tate this year as a top quarterback this year. The Stamps do have insurance in Kevin Glenn. Possible quarterback controversy. Again a good offense and a meh defence. Will benefit from playing the Eskimos and Riders multiple times.

6. Toronto Argonauts
With Ricky Ray at quarterback and better receivers, the Argos should be better than last year and Toronto wasn't absolute excrement last year at 6 and 12. The Argos had a good defence last year too. However Ricky Ray isn't that fantastic either, so the Argos only have so much upside.

7. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Going against consensus perhaps, but I don't think the Riders will be the worst team in the CFL in 2012. Second worst sure, but not worst. Darian Durant still has some skills, although the team will miss Andy Fantuz, not that he did much for them last year, only playing in a handful of games. The Riders still have some decent receivers, providing that Rob Bagg can come back successfully from injury.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
After trading away Ricky Ray, the Eskimos are going with somebody at quarterback, who I'm not sure. I thought it would be Steven Jyles, but judging by the pre-season stats, Nichols had some decent results. After a surprisingly good record last year, this will be a rebuilding year for the Eskimos.

TSN has their pre-season show tomorrow at 8 pm.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ticats Second Pre-Season Game Lineup

Nothing remarkably notable about the lineup. Markeith Knowlton is listed as a starter at linebacker, along with Johnson and Williams, with non-import Eiben as a backup. Defensive line starters are all imports, which again isn't a surprise, with Powell and Boudreaux as the ends and Rose and McElveen in the middle.

Import Turenne starts at one corner, but with non-import Bucknor at the other corner. I assume Bucknor is being auditioned to see if he's worthy of being a backup if the Cats start a non-import. Young and Smith are the halfbacks, with Webb being the import safety starter.

On the offence, import known entity Simmons starts and import not known entity Dile starts. No Hage starting in the middle, with non-import O'Neill starting. Usual suspect and brilliant non-import Peter Dyakowski starts at guard, with non-import Husband is the other guard.

Burris is listed as the quarterback starter, with Walker the starting running back, but Avon Cobourne is in as backup. Williams and non-import Giguere are listed as the starting wide receivers. Jones and non-import Dave Stala are listed as the slotback starters.

On offence look for Porter to do something positive, or risk having the team give up on him. Also watch if Cobourne has something to prove when he gets the ball after being released earlier by the team. Is Giguere good enough to start as a non-import receiver? If he does, that makes things easier ratio wise.

On defence, everything focuses on the defensive line. Will they get any pass rush? Probably more important against Winnipeg, can they stop the run? They're all imports so that should help, although I doubt any is getting paid much money and none can be considered a CFL name. The line needs Peach back for the season, although if the pre-season is any indication, the number of games Peach actually plays in could be quite low.

CFL Pre-season Television Ratings

Tigercatatonia has long argued for TSN to broadcast CFL pre-season games, well before TSN started broadcasting them last year. Reasons advanced were that TSN already owned the rights anyways (sure CFL production does cost something, but reasonable ratings would cover them easily), the games are a big long commercial for the season to come, and rabid fans of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders would probably tune in for both games in large amounts. Last year between TSN and TSN2, the network broadcast seven games, while this year only four (or was it five?) were broadcast.

Chris Cuthbert recently tweeted that the BC Saskatchewan game last week had over 400,000 viewers, confirming that Rider fans will tune in, especially in the pre-season when hope springs eternal. He also tweeted the Cats Argos game at Ivor Wynne got close to 336,000 fans, which is also impressive for the pre-season. That's some decent numbers and way better than the average MLS game.

I can understand why the day game yesterday for the Argos wasn't broadcast, but I can't understand why both Rider games weren't broadcast. I'm sure the second game would have gone over 400,000 as well.

Finally broadcasting the pre-season games is good for showing some interesting stories, like Canadian quarterbacks Brad Sinopoli and Kyle Quinlan being successful in their outings (unlike the heralded quart back Tate Forcier for the Ticats who revealed himself to be a wang).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ticats Lose to Argos 29 to 24; Beer Prices Rise to $9.00

I attended the pre-season game on Wednesday. Generally, despite the loss I was happy with how the team looked. Burris looked good when he was in and the receiving corps is strong, both import and non-import although Aaron Kelly was his usual inconsistent self. Running game was decent with Walker and Berezik looking good. Porter played poorly. I think he needs to talk to Danny Mac and learn his quick release. LeFevour looked good as the third string quarterback, and Forcier looked crap and is apparently now released.

Hamilton outgained Toronto 524 yards to 317, but the turnovers were a problem. The linebackers looked good, but the defensive line looked weak.

The Cats at one point had third and 46 (to which I yelled go for it) which made me wonder, what's the record for the longest third down in the CFL? Probably a lot longer than third and 46.

Argos didn't look bad with Ricky Ray in, but I question their depth. They did manage to win six games last year with complete fools at quarterback, so a nine win season is not impossible.

With regards to the game day experience, I wasn't surprised to see tall boy beer prices rise to $9.00 from $8.75 last year. That probably hurts tips for the attendants. Who knows what the prices will be in the new stadium. With regards to beer service, I noticed that on the North side concourse, the all you can eat section near section five has been replaced by a regular food and beer stand, which wasn't busy at all.

There's a Smoke's Poutinerie on the South side now which is an improvement. I saw someone with a full sized pizza box from Pizza Pizza. I can't imagine how much that costs. There was also something called "Three Minutes of Madness" sponsored by Pizza Pizza which seems to consist of jump cuts of fans on the big screen with no apparent purpose.

The cheerleaders had their last centre field performance at 9:28 of the third quarter which strikes me as somewhat lazy. The Cats appear to have a DJ, located somewhere, but I could never figure out where sitting on the North side.

There was a nice hit by linebacker Jamall Johnson but rather than a replay, we saw a Poole Shoppe commercial. That was somewhat annoying.

Finally there was some new mascot that seemed to be a tiger, but in some weird spherical form. I found it disturbing and would appreciate it if it didn't make a return appearance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CFL Preseason Predictions Week 1 Part A

Toronto at Hamilton,
I think Hamilton will be a better team this year than Toronto, but I could see the Argos playing Ricky Ray more than the Cats play Henry Burris in this game. The Cats don't really have their starting running back Avon Cobourne synced into their system yet considering he just showed up. I'll still go with Hamilton at home. I will be curious to see what new receiver Samuel Giguerre does.
Ticats 29 Argos 23

Saskatchewan at BC
I don't really have a lot to base this on. Again I assume the Lions will be a better team and they are at home. Enough for me for the first preseason game.
Lions 33 Riders 22

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Avon Cobourne Back With Ticats

So running back Avon Cobourne is back with the Cats after being released in the beginning of the year. Martell Mallett pulling a Kenton Keith and being out for the season wasn't expected, so Cobourne is back. Probably an awkward call for O'Billovich, but no other team had signed Cobourne so both sides were probably a little desperate. I had no problems with Cobourne's play last year for the Cats so hopefully this works out well. Cobourne has been around the block a few times so missing the beginning of training camp shouldn't be much of an issue. He'll probably be pretty motivated too.

No Mac Stadium For Ticats

I can't say I'm totally shocked by the news that McMaster won't agree to a deal with the Ticats to play some games next year during the construction of the new Ivor Wynne. Mac is kind of like Surly from the Simpon's, looking out for only itself (note that doesn't include students). Plus if you've seen the stadium, the first thing that runs through your head is how the hell are they going to expand this?

Then again some of the reasons as outlined in this Spec article from Mac spokespuppet Andrea Farquar seemed like excuses that weren't problems in reality:

“In the summer, this is a very busy place,” Farquhar said, adding there are about 10,000 summer school students and 5,000 children who attend camp programs. “We needed to take all of that into account.”
The colossal majority of classes in the summer take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Some programs have classes during the day during the summer, but I wouldn't exactly call the campus busy during the summer. Since the games would likely be on Friday nights, or better yet on Saturday or Sunday, students wouldn't be affected.

Mac probably wanted Mac as a location so they could still offer season ticket holders a package, including the game at Dead Ted's Dome on Labour Day. Now more games at Western are likely, plus maybe two for Moncton. Unfortunate for Hamiltonians, especially those without good transportation options, but the games are all on television and the excitement of the new stadium should be enough to bring people back in 2014.

As for Mac, I don't really expect more from an organization that is managing to tear down the Board of Education building downtown despite the massive number of parking lots downtown where a new building could have went. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mallett Achilles Tear, Here's Hoping for Running Back Fungibility

So new running back Martell Mallett is gone for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Not great news. I'm not even sure who else is in camp as backup import running backs, but I'm sure we will find out. I'm guessing Avon Cobourne won't be getting a call.

A common trope on Tigercatatonia is the fungibility of import running backs in the CFL. There's a massive supply of good running backs coming from the US college system, so the talent level of the next guy in line isn't much. Usually what makes a great running back in the CFL is his receiving ability coming out of the backfield and that's where rookies are usually weakest. Fortunately the Cats have a good crop of receivers to take pressure off whoever steps into Mallett's shoes. So we'll see what happens.

Mallett being gone for the season means his salary won't apply against the cap (although it still gets paid) so the Cats could bring in a relatively big name, assuming that Mallett was getting paid a decent salary. Fred Reid?