Thursday, November 29, 2012

Casey Creehan Adios!

Much derided Ticat defensive co-ordinator has decamped to more mosquito infested climes in Winnipeg. Double bonus for the Cats, the new co-ordinator can't help but be better and Winnipeg's defence can't help but get worse.

Thinking about the past season and defensive strategies, I'm now wondering why the Cats didn't go really aggressive and blitz heavy. The Cats were the highest scoring team in the league and sure they might get burnt fairly often for a TD, but they had the capacity to score enough to keep up, plus any times they were successful and got to the quarterback, good field position was likely to result which the Cats offense was well-suited to take advantage of. Sure we didn't have the defensive line to totally pull this off, but such an approach had to be better than the mediocrity we endured this season.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Argos Win Grey Cup, Why Can't Cats

The Argos won the Grey Cup yesterday, mainly behind good defence and Chad Kackert's running (so much for Cory Boyd). Contemplating that, I wonder why the Cats haven't been able to win since 1999 (or even get to the Grey Cup). The Argos certainly weren't favourites going into the season, unlike the Cats and their talent isn't that remarkable. They did get hot late though, which obviously counts for a lot.

Looking ahead to next year, I don't think the Cats are that far away from success, provided they can upgrade the defence, mainly through a shift in co-ordinator. It would be ironic if the Cats did have a good season, seeing that they are playing in Guelph, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vanier Cup Post-Game Thoughts

I attended the Vanier Cup at Dead Ted's Dome (TM) and had a good time at least for the first half. I sat in row 5 of section 509 of the upper bowl, which is actually good for sight lines of the field and a lot better than many seats in the lower bowl. The seats in the upper bowl were also cheaper too at $40. It was good to see over 37,000 fans for a Vanier as well.

I think overall the Laval Rouge et Or were the better team and would probably win most games if they played in alternate universes. Their running game was too strong for the Mac defence, especially on first down. I was really impressed by Boutin, Laval's running back. That said, the Laval quarterback wasn't particularly good passing, especially considering his offensive line was impressive. Maybe he had an off day.

One thing that hurt the Marauders was in the battle of field position, the Laval punter regularly out booted Mac's. In the first half, Mac would gain a good number of yards and then when they punted, their net ended up pretty sad. Unfortunately Mac never got opportunities for field goals, as the Marauders field goal kicking was far superior during the season.

Also I thought the Marauders were a bit unlucky with the first half interception call, where the Mac player looked like he should have kept possession based on down by contact. Maybe that would have changed the game.

At least for Ticat fans, Laval defensive draft picks from last year Plesius and Gascon-Nadon looked good against the Mac run. They may snag a look from the NFL, which would complicate things for the Ticats, but I'm doubting that a Samuel Giguere multiyear practice roster will happen.

I'm not sure what will happen with Mac quarterback Kyle Quinlan in the CFL next year, although he has the size and speed to be a receiver too.

With Quinlan gone, and potentially a lot of other players leaving, Mac will be in tough next year. They still have a lot of talent and an excellent head coach Stefan Ptaszek. I'm not sure that will be enough to win the OUA next year, but I'm sure they have a reasonable chance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's the Guelph Equivalent of the Prince Edward Tavern?

I wasn't totally surprised by the Guelph announcement as the 2013 home of the Ticats, although I was thinking it was going to be London. There was some politician before the decision who seemed keen and Guelph is closer than London, although the caravan going up highway  6 won't.

I was surprised that there wasn't more interest for a Moncton game, but it could still happen. I think it would be good for the league, however the team might want to get as much value as possible out of spending for bleachers and such.

I think this is also good for Guelph and the university. If you're not living in Southern Ontario, you may not have heard of Guelph (I've met Westerners whose lack of knowledge of Southern Ontario geography surprised me), but having it on TSN every couple of weeks is great publicity.

Finally what is the Guelph equivalent of the Prince Eddie? If there is one, I'm guessing it isn't by the university.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Update, Drew Tate Out With Broken Forearm

Apparently Tate's injury is a broken forearm and is done for the season. Considering he was injured earlier in the season, I'm not sure if he's the new Buck Pierce in terms of being injury prone.

Whoa, Drew Tate Not Playing in Western Final

Hmmm, just saw on the @CFL Twitter feed that Drew Tate is out of the Western Final. Luckily the Stamps have a capable backup in Kevin "Rodney Dangerfield" Glenn. Expect concussion controversy in the media this week.

Justin Hickman

Considering the Cats past season and especially their troubles on defence, I thought I would look to see how Justin Hickman, the Cats former defensive end who signed with the Indianapolis Colts is doing this season. He's listed as an outside linebacker, with ten tackles (six solo and four assisted) through nine games. I'm not sure what that means for next year, but he is seeing the field so the chances of him coming back to Hamilton.

In 2011 Hickman led the CFL with 13 sacks (tied). Losing him to the NFL last year definitely hurt the Cats defensive line, especially early in the season when sack production was very weak. Obviously if the Cats had been able to sign him, they couldn't have spent money elsewhere so the team probably would have ended up differently. Still if you're looking to where the Cats went wrong in 2012, not having Hickman was a factor.

The Cats did sign free agent defensive end Greg Peach and the line did improve somewhat later in the season, but was certainly never a force. I don't really see the Cats signing a big name defensive end free agent next year. More likely the Cats will bring in a ton of guys to camp and try to augment the defensive line with the players they already have. Assuming the Cats get non-import Eddie Steele back from a leg injury before camp and another Canadian emerges from recent drafts as a backup, the Cats could try for a non-import starter on the defensive line again. Having an all American line and not being very good like this year isn't a good strategy in the CFL.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Argos Up Big at Half 31 to 7

So much for the Eskimos as the Argos exploded in the second quarter. Ray is looking good as is Kackert. Joseph and Boyd, not so much. Owens returned a punt for a TD, surprisingly for the first time this year. I wonder what the record is for combined regular season and playoffs combined yards? Maurice Mann wasn't bad either.

Are the Argos a great team or the Eskimos a bad team. I'm leaning toward the Eskimos being a bad team, although I feel more confident in the Argos next week. At the very least the spread will be smaller.

CFL Playoff Previews Division Semi-Final 2012

Edmonton at Toronto
Cross-over time. Edmonton has already booted Eric Tillman as general manager which is a little weird and also shows upper management doesn't really expect the Eskimos to go very far.

Edmonton sucked down the stretch, but managed to get in to the playoffs anyways, while the Argos at least managed to win their last two games including against a desperate Hamilton team. The Argos have Ricky Ray as their quarterback while the Eskimos go with the superannuated Kerry Joseph. Most interesting is that the Eskimos J.C. Sherritt, who had broken the regular season CFL record for tackles in the regular season (formerly held by Ticat Calvin Tiggle) won't be playing. I didn't really like the Esks chances and now I really don't.

Toronto is favoured by four points, which I think is a little charitable.

Team Suck 29 Eskimos 17

Saskatchewan at Calgary
The big story is the Stamps starting Drew Tate over Kevin "Rodney Dangerfield" Glenn, which seems like a bit of hubris. Also goes against the Brian Mulrooney doctrine of dancing with the one that brought you. Or was the Mulrooney doctrine accepting suitcases of money from people named Karl-Heinz. I digress.

The Stamps do have running back Jon Cornish and his record of rushing yards ever by a Canadian, which certainly helped Glenn. Also receiver and blocker downfield Nik Lewis which doesn't hurt.

Probably a lot depends on how Rider quarterback Darian Durant plays. He's been up and down this year so who knows who shows up.

No doubt the Riders will have a lot of fans at McMahon, which blunts the home field advantage, but I still like the Stamps, despite the Tate hubris. I assume Tate will be on a short leash and there will be a lot of Cornish running. Stamps favoured by six, but I think it will be closer.
Stamps 33, Riders 29

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 19 End of Regular Season Edition

1. BC Lions
Beat Saskatchewan in a meaningless game to end the regular season. Good offense and a great defence. Pretty much the only complete team in the CFL this year.

2. Calgary Stampeders
The offensive powerhouse of the league. Weird situation going into the playoffs with Tate starting over Glenn at quarterback, but from the power rankings standpoint, having two good quarterbacks is a nice problem to have. Won at the end versus the Eskimos, which doesn't say a lot.

3. Montreal Alouettes
Didn't do much in the final regular season game against Winnipeg, but it was meaningless. Calvillo is still Calvillo after another year and have a good shot to go through to the Grey Cup.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Played a Hamilton that had to win, ended up winning with a festival of backups and their fourth string quarterback. Will be better with Ray at the controls, but how much?

5. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Inconsistent team. Decent quarterback in Durant, although he is also inconsistent. Benefits from rabid fan base that will show up on the road.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Managed to dig themselves out of the basement with a win at the end of the regular season. Could survive without Buck Pierce next year, but it won't be pretty.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Couldn't even beat the Argos on the road when they had too. Bad defence coupled with a good offense that gives up to many turnovers. Bizarre that Burris' stats could be so good for a 6 and 12 team although some of that comes from pretty much throwing every pass this season.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Flamed out to end the season, but still in the playoffs anyways. Kerry Joseph as quarterback. Fired their GM before their playoff game. Ouch