Sunday, June 30, 2013

2013 Season Opener Aftermath, Ticats at Argos

I was in the US for the game and was only able to follow the game tracker for the first half, so I'm basically looking at the stats for the game for this analysis.

First off, Burris stats were good, which is a positive in the is he too old sense. Going 24 for 37 for 361 yards with 3 TDs and no picks is a good line. He also ran seven times for 36 yards which is also good. Good to see that Fantuz had ten receptions for 155 yards and a TD. Fantuz seems to be on a mission this year which helps the Cats. A surprise in rookie Greg Ellingson, from the august institution known as Florida International University, with 6 catches for 120 yards. Gable picked up two TDs which is also good. Onrea Jones, Bakari Grant and Samuel Giguere only had a catch each.
So for the receiving game, the Cats looked good, with Ellingson emerging as a significant target in the absence of Chris Williams.

The Cat running game was merely meh, but with all the passing attempts was fine, with 103 yards on 16 attempts for a respectable 6.4 yard per attempt average with a mixed group of players.

The defence was poor overall, with Ricky Ray having slightly better numbers for Toronto than Burris, with 24 completions from 34 attempts for 368 yards and 4 TDs and no picks. So not good news for the Hamilton secondary. Veteran defensive back James Patrick, formerly of Saskatchewan had 8 tackles, which isn't always a good sign. No sacks for the Cats either so not a great show by the Cats front four. DE Greg Peach apparently left injured at some point, which isn't good, however he has over his career been injury prone so not much of a surprise.

The Argos gained 121 yards on the ground with 13 attempts for a stellar 9.3 yards per attempt average with 10 of those attempts coming from running back Chad Kackert.

Lindsey Lamar at least returned a kickoff for a TD, which is a positive for the special teams unit and again good to see without Chris Williams.

So the Cats start out 2013 like the 2012 season overall. Excellent offense with a bad defence that ends up losing a lot of close games. Not a great way to start the season, however the Argos were at home, are the defending Grey Cup champs and have a seasoned quarterback in mid-season form. Fortunately for the Cats that last one is a rarity in the CFL. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Half-Time Hamilton at Toronto, Season Opener

I'm in the US, so I can't watch the game. I am following the game tracker. Really high scoring game, which considering expectations of the Cats having a good offense and a bad defence isn't that surprising. Argos defense is quite weak as well which is a bit odd.

Good to see Andy Fantuz over 100 yards at the half receiving. Burris with over 200 yards receiving and 3 TDs and no picks is good to see as well. The question is whether this good offense can end up as a win. So often last year it didn't.

Ticat rush defence is looking flaccid, giving up over 100 yards to Kackert alone in the first half. Not much of a shock, although the Cats are supposed to have some decent linebackers.

Over Under Ticats Argos Season Opener

Following along the game with the game tracker. Seems like I should have picked higher scores for my predictions.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 1

Montreal at Winnipeg
The Bombers have their new stadium open and home field advantage so that's something. Buck Pierce is also not injured yet which is also something. But Winnipeg just isn't much of a team. Anthony Calvillo is also not injured yet, however the Alouettes no longer have Marc Trestman as coach anymore. I still like the weapons Calvillo has at his disposal and that should be enough.
Alouettes 26 Bombers 19

Hamilton at Toronto
For a lot of Hamilton fans, getting to Toronto is easier than Guelph. The GO bus from downtown runs quite frequently. So there may be a lot of Cat fans in attendance and the Argos have never been a great draw. Both teams have veteran quarterbacks that should be in decent form in the first game in the season. The Argos are coming off a Grey Cup, while the Cats were the worst team in the league. Against a bit worse opponent or at home I would have picked the Cats, but missing Chris Williams at receiver and as a returner will hurt.
Argos 24 Cats 18

BC at Calgary
I think the Lions are the best team entering the season and Drew Tate hasn't really shown he's a great CFL quarterback. Until I see evidence to the contrary, I'm picking BC, even on the road.

Lions 28 Stamps 26

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
Veteran quarterback Darian Durrant for the Riders versus that guy who's not Matt Nichols and has a functioning ACL for Edmonton. Durrant has certainly been, to quote a Katy Perry song title, Hot and Cold over the pass few years, but early in the season, his experience and running ability if he gets in trouble will be the edge over some guy I can't be bothered to look the name up of and probably wouldn't be starting if Nichols hadn't blown out his knee doing basically nothing my 70 year mother doesn't do in her aerobics class.

Riders 31 Edmonton 29

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week Zero

1. BC Lions
Until I see some regular season action, the Lions and Travis Lulay are number one.

2. Toronto Argonauts
I don't think necessarily that the Argos are a great team, but they did win the Grey Cup last year, they have Ricky Ray and Chad Owens and Chad Kackert on offense. Their defensive line has turned over, which probably isn't good, but a stable offense is more important early in the year.

3. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Mostly I'm going off Darian Durant as a proven quarterback and a good receiving corps.

4. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes still have Calvillo and some formidable offensive weapons, but they no longer have Marc Trestman as coach and with the release of Quinton Porter as a backup quarterback, I have no idea who their backups are.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Cats looked good against the Bombers last week in pre-season, albeit against a Bomber team who left people in Winnipeg to be bit by mosquitoes, but more importantly Henry Burris and slotback Andy Fantuz looked to be in mid-season form. Offenses can struggle early, so that bodes well for the Cats.
The secondary which was poor last year also looked good against the Bombers, again against backup quarterbacks.

6. Calgary Stampeders
Never been a huge fan of Drew Tate at quarterback and I won't be until I see some more proof. Luckily the Stamps have Kevin Glenn as a capable backup.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
One of their two quarterbacks competing to be the starter is now gone for the season. Not a lot of confidence in their offense.

8 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
If Buck plays his ass off, the Bombers could make the playoffs. Otherwise, things aren't looking good and lets leave it at that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Frederic Plesius Signs Three Year Deal with Ticats

Good news that Laval linebacker Frederic Plesius signed a three year deal with the Ticats. A 2012 draft pick, Plesius went back to Laval last year to win a Vanier Cup. 

Plesius wanted to get an NFL shot but looks like it didn't happen. Too bad that Plesius missed most of training camp and the two preseason games, but realistically Plesius will only play special teams this year. At least he did sign before the season started rather than getting released by an NFL team in August. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quinton Porter Released By Alouettes

Former Hamilton backup quarterback Quinton Porter was released by the Montreal Alouettes in a bit of a surprise. Porter seemed to have a good shot of being Anthony Calvillo's primary backup but not anymore. 

Does Porter have a chance anywhere else on the CFL or is he done? I could see somewhere like Winnipeg whose backups are inexperienced picking up Portter or a team with injury problems, like Edmonton with Matt Nichols out for the season. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stevie Baggs Released By Calgary

Just read that former Ticat Stevie Baggs was cut by Calgary. Not sure if this is the end of the line for Baggs. There's always more young import defensive ends who are cheaper. If you can't do better than them you're done. That said I'm sure some team will start off with a bad defensive line and may take a chance on Baggs. Probably not the Cats though. 

I have a Ticats Stevie Baggs jersey so I've always taken notice of him after the Cats get rid of him. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thoughts on Winnipeg Pre-Season Game, Results and Guelph Experience

I drove up to Guelph yesterday for the pre-season game against Winnipeg. I already blogged about the price of beers, $9 for a bottle shaped can of Canadian or Coors Light. I had a sausage on a bun for $6 and some popcorn for $5. Don't get the potato chips, they were $2.50 for a 40 g bag. Several food trucks were there, including Dirty South, whose prices were pretty reasonable considering it was inside the stadium. Lots of concessions overall, considering there was over 12,000 in attendance and a capacity of only 15,000 or so. Port-a-Potties for washrooms. Interestingly the smoking area was outside the stadium grounds and required re-entry (as my friend pointed out, there's probably no smoking allowed on the university grounds).

I paid $10 for a university lot that was a long, long walk. My friend parked at a closer lot and paid nothing, although in future one should be careful of parking tickets. Didn't seem to be many residential lawns to park on.

Obviously winning 52-0, the Ticats looked good. Most importantly Henry Burris connected with non-import slotback Andy Fantuz several times in the first half and looked in mid-season form. Some nice tosses to non-import Sam Giguerre right on the sideline, sometimes with another receiver right near by.

The secondary looked good, with a ridiculous number of picks thrown by Winnipeg's backups. The Bombers did leave 11 starters at home, however if and when Buck Pierce goes down, those quarterbacks are who Winnipeg is going to be throwing into the fire.

I believe the return team returned a punt for TD, which was nice considering it looks like there's no Chris Williams coming anytime soon.

Considering Winnipeg wasn't at peak form with a lot of backups and no-hopers, one shouldn't draw too much from the game. I don't think the Bombers are really 52-0 bad, but contesting for last place does seem to be a pretty decent bet.

Toronto will be tough next week in Dead Ted's Dome (TM), however as previously mentioned the Ticat passing offence was looking good, which can often be enough in the CFL for the first couple of games, considering there are only two pre-season games.

Calgary Saddledome Flooded to 14th Row

Just read a tweet from @ianbusby that the Saddledome is flooded to the 14th row. Heard nothing so far about McMahon.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ticats 2013 Season: Beer is $9

Molson Camadian and Coor's Light are available in the metal bottle shaped cans. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Only 1,500 tickets Left for Ticats Season Opener Against Edmonton

Just saw a tweet from Scott Mitchell that there's only 1,500 seats left for the season opener against Edmonton. I would have to assume that with over a week to go they will be easily sold. I haven't seen any season ticket numbers for the season, so I'm not sure how many singles remain for each game. Considering the small size of the stadium, sellouts aren't going to be that hard. Games with demand like Saskatchewan and Toronto should be even easier.

I'm curious to see the price of beer in Guelph. Last year I believe it was $8.75 for a tall boy or was it $9? It was $8.75 in 2011 I know for sure and $8.50 in 2010. I will know tomorrow and report back.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Pre-Season Week 1

1. BC Lions
I don't think you can really argue with the Lions being ranked the best at this stage of season. They have the best quarterback in Travis Lulay and a lot of other talent. They lost receiver Geroy Simon, but they also lost his high salary and he's not who he was in his prime. Plus GM Wally Buono knows how to value players. With the limited information we have, BC has to be number one until proven otherwise.

2. Montreal Alouettes
Sure Calvillo is old, but he is still dangerous. The Als now have Quinton Porter as a backup who is decent for a number two in case Calvillo goes down. Again with the limited knowledge, I'll defer to the skills of GM Jim Popp. They don't have Marc Trestman around any more as coach, however I always thought Popp was most important.

3. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos won the Grey Cup last year in a bit of a surprise. I like Ricky Ray at quarterback and Chad Kackert at running back. Chad Owens, receiver and returner and erstwhile MMA fighter also anchors the Argo offense. The defence is more concerning. The front four pretty much got dismantled, which had been an Argo strength. Look for the Argo defence to be weaker, at least initially in 2013.

4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Darian Durrant is still a potential best quarterback in the league, with both running and passing ability. Not particularly impressed with the pickup of Geroy Simon, however the receivers (especially the non-imports) have always been a strength in recent years, so Simon could be effective as a secondary target that isn't drawing double coverage.

5. Calgary Stampeders
Drew Tate is OK, and the Stamps have Kevin Glenn as probably the best backup in the CFL. Tate has never really demonstrated that he's a great quarterback, so that holds the Stamps back somewhat. No real impression of their defence right now.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats are a bit tough this year to predict. Last year they were predicted as a Grey Cup favourite, then ended up in dead last. Good offense, even worse defence. The Ticats still have Henry Burris at quarterback who should be effective at quarterback at a rather advanced age. The Cats receivers are still decent although losing Chris Williams definitely hurts. The defence is the wild card. It was plain bad last year and the secondary has been totally remade. There's no guarantee the defence will be better, however the presence of Burris prevents the Ticats from being at the absolute bottom of the rankings.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
I watched part of their pre-season game and did see quarterback Matt Nichols get injured and I read today that he is now out for the season. I already wasn't that keen on two non-proven quarterbacks being your starter, but now without a choice, the odds of a good season are a little bit worse. They've jettisoned both Cory Boyd and Jerome Messam at running back which I can see (as per my belief in the fungibility of import running backs), but doesn't give me great confidence. Last in the West, although last overall seems less likely.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
There's Buck Pierce and then not a lot after him at quarterback. That seems to me to be a recipe for disaster. At least they have a new stadium.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Half-Time Saskatchewan at Edmonton Pre-Season Game

Lots of turnovers, but that's not surprising. Maybe more surprising was ex-Ticat defensive backs Marcell Young and Carlos Thomas getting TDs off of turnovers. Maybe they weren't that bad after all.

Thoughts on Last Night's Pre-Season Win Against Montreal 2013

TSN didn't show the game last night (and why TSN is only showing two games, both with Edmonton seems weird) so I can only look at the recaps. At least backup quarterback Dan Lefevour looked good. As I recall he did well when he was in last year during the pre-season. With Quinton Porter gone to Montreal, if anything happens to Burris then the Cats need somebody. Pre-season is different than regular season however.

From what I've read the defence looked good, but again that was against quarterbacks who aren't Anthony Calvillo. The Ticat defence was bad enough last year and there's a lot of changes this year, especially in the secondary. The one benefit is that there's a lot of import defensive backs out there so it isn't inconceivable the Cats secondary could regress towards the mean, but in a good way (i.e. less sucky). I've never done the stats, but my guess is that the CFL has less correlation between seasons for teams than other sports so there's always some hope.

Impressive also that Lindsay Lamar scored a TD off a punt return. Without Chris Williams, the Cats might be in trouble on special teams, so any indication of a spark is welcome.

I'll be going to the game next week in Guelph, so I'll be able to do a more in depth report, both on the stadium and the last pre-season game. There should be a lot of Burris in that one and more indication on who starts on defence.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chris Williams' Contract Ruled Valid By Arbitrator

Just saw on the Ticats Twitter feed that an independent arbitrator has ruled that Chris Williams present Ticat contract is valid. So first off, Williams won't be going to an NFL camp this year.

Williams hasn't reported to camp yet, so what happens next will be interesting. Williams doesn't have much choice but to play for the Cats this year if he wants to play in the CFL this year. I'm doubting the Cats would trade him and would prefer to just have him remain on the suspended list rather than have him come back and bite them in the ass later in the season.

Williams isn't getting paid much at all this year, so he may have already calculated that he would just sit out this year and try for an NFL camp the following year or another CFL team. I suppose Williams could now report to camp, but it seems unlikely.