Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Argos Resting Ricky Ray for Final Regular Season Game

So says this Toronto Sun article. Can't really blame them, as Montreal has a defensive that never stops blitzing and Ray is coming off an injury. Ray has looked good the past couple of games, so there's no need to play to get rust off.

Hamilton Ticats 2013 1000 Yard Watch, Bakari Grant and C.J. Gable

Bakari Grant is at 947 yards receiving and is thus only 53 yards away from the coveted 1000 yard mark. One would expect he'll get some throws early to try and make the mark.

C.J. Gable looked good for 1000 yards rushing two games ago, but after two efforts against Montreal that yielded very few yards, Gable is very unlikely to get it with only 782 yards. Gable does have 600 yards receiving which is very respectable for a running back.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 18

1. Calgary Stampeders
You can't argue with continued success. In a game that was meaningless to the standings but meaningful for the power rankings, the Stamps beat the Riders at home. Also Cornish outgained Sheets in rushing yards.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders are right now the second best team, but they can't beat Calgary. So they're stuck in number two.

3. Toronto Argonauts
Back to back wins over the Bombers after back to back losses to the Tabbies. More importantly Ray is back and isn't showing any signs of injury, putting up ridiculous pass completion percentages. Kackert and Owens contributing or not doesn't really seem to matter, showing the Argos are a team that is more than the sum of their parts.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
After a terrible outing the previous week against the Als, Hamilton bounced back with third string quarterback playing a ton executing a wildcat offense and thoroughly perturbing television commentators everywhere by beating Montreal with it. Even with Burris in a funk, the Cats have options at quarterback. The Ticats defence was better this week, even if it was against media favourite, but mediocre quarterback Troy Smith.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Fabulous defence that almost never allows yards after the catch. New quarterback in Troy Smith who isn't totally terrible. S.J. Green making unbelievable catches. Meh. Good enough for fifth.

6. BC Lions
They beat Edmonton but allowed them to score 29 points. I'm assuming that Lulay isn't presently available (and I'm wondering if he's coming back for the playoffs). They have Stefan Logan back, but I'm not sure he's the player he was four years ago with BC. Somewhat of a missed opportunity season for BC. Anything can happen in the playoffs.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Why better than Winnipeg? I'll say quarterback Mike Reilly and excellent slotback (and Humpty's pitchman) Fred Stamps. Crappy, crappy defence.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Hall seems to be an OK quarterback and maybe gives hope for the future. The Bombers just can't seem to win games. Maybe next year they can improve to six victories.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tim Horton's Field, October 27 2013, West Stands

Here's a photo I took today of the West Side stands at Tim Horton's Field. Looks like good progress is being made, but will it be ready for the first exhibition game?

When's the Last Time the Ticats Had A Soldout Playoff Game?

I have no idea. I assume the Guelph game will be soldout, despite likely bad weather. In the future, due to the small size of the new stadium, playoff sellouts will probably happen, although Hamilton fans have historically been pretty cheap.

Hamilton Beats Montreal in Guelph, Locks Up A Home Playoff Game

Yesterday in Guelph was pretty satisfying. Things were looking grim and then Banks returns Whyte's missed field goal for a TD and suddenly the cold weather and rain didn't matter any more.

The Cats sucked pretty hard in the first half, only scoring three points and it looked like a repeat of last week. Fortunately the Cats got a couple of turnovers deep in their own territory to stop the Alouettes from totally running away from it in the first half.

In the second half, the Cats played way better than the Als, outscoring them 24 to 8 on the way to the victory.

One oddity in the game was the Cats use of all three quarterbacks throughout the game. Masoli got a lot of touches and had the only TD pass. All season the Cats have put in LeFevour for a few plays that are mostly runs and while he had a few touches, Masoli seems to have leapfrogged him. Burris didn't have a great day when he had the ball, just an OK one, going 16 for 23 for 163 yards with a pick. That's only 7.1 yards per attempt, which is bad, but in both games Cat receivers had very low YAC yards, whereas Montreal tended to have a ton of them.

The weird thing about the backup quarterback running plays was how effective they were versus how uneffective the regular running backs were rushing. The Cats seemed to have no problem with Masoli getting over five yards per rush, while Gable had 2 rushes for -1 yards. But it worked, so I'm not complaining. I'm not a television commentator who is tied into conventional wisdom. Try new things on offence, if they work great.

Troy Smith had a better game in some ways this week than last week and ended up losing. He did have two picks versus 2 TDs, but he had 340 yards passing. His passing percentage was better than last week's at 59%, but that's still pretty mediocre. Over two games, that's around 55% which is pretty much Michael Bishop territory. I saw on Sportscentre that Chris Schultz was complaining about how Smith's last five passes were all incompletes, so maybe the media love in is over.

Most importantly, the Cats got their home playoff game in Guelph (and the Guelph and Guelph University get the publicity for a home playoff game) and proved last week was somewhat of an aberration. I'll be most curious next week to see what the Cats do quarterback wise. I assume Burris will get some significant reps in the first half and then the backups will play a lot. Winnipeg played Toronto relatively tough for the last two weeks so who knows how that game will go. I would like a regular season winning record, but not at the cost of injuries.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 18

Winnipeg at Toronto
It is has been a while since we had a Thursday game. So no procrastinating until Friday with my picks. The Bombers didn't look to bad against the Argos at home, but as the Bombers have been wont to do in 2013, they lost. In the Argonauts favour, Ricky Ray is now firmly back and the rust should be off. The Argos are also at home, which doesn't mean a lot since the double blue may be better on the road. The Bombers have nothing to lose, but not a lot to win either. I assume that there will be some evaluation of who should come back next year for Winnipeg. Probably a closer game than would be expected, but the Bombers aren't winning.
Argonauts 27 Bombers 23

Edmonton at BC
This game is interesting because neither time has much to play for. The Esks are out and the Lions can't get a home playoff game. No Lulay for this game is probably the most important fact. The Lions have lost three in a row and the Eskimos four. BC is at home, however I'm going to go for once with the Eskimos. Reilly has had a fair number of starts and should have the advantage over his counterpart DeMarco who hasn't played as well as he did initially.

Montreal at Hamilton
After last week's dismantling of the Hamilton offense by the Montreal defence, some would think the Cats are totally doomed. However it is often true in the CFL that it is difficult to win two games in a row against an opponent and Kent Austin is a good enough coach to make some adjustments to the Ticat offense. Despite what the CFL commentators said last week, Alouette quarterback Troy Smith wasn't actually very good with a completion rate just under 50%. Don't expect that to change this week. Plus Hamilton is 5 and 3 at home versus Montreal being 3 and 4 and Hamilton needs this game to get a home playoff game.
Ticats 33 Alouettes 24  

Saskatchewan at Calgary
Not much to play for for either team except to set an example for when they could meet in the playoffs. Both teams are hot, with the Stamps winning four straight and watermelon people winning three. Calgary has been basically unbeatable at home, at 7 and 1, while the Riders are a respectable 5 and 3 away from home. This could come down to a Jon Cornish versus Kory Sheets battle. However I think the true edge for Calgary is that Kevin Glenn is playing better than Darian Durant at the moment.
Stampeders 41 Riders 36 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 17

1. Calgary Stampeders
Not a big surprise that the Stamps are yet again number one. Yet another victory, this time over the hapless Eskimos. Glenn has settled into being the starter, Cornish and Hughes are rolling. Blah, blah, blah first overall.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders bitchslapped the Lions last week. Sheets is back and playing well, Durant is playing better with Sheets back.

3. Toronto Argonauts
After two back to back losses, the Argos went back to winning last week. Admittedly it was against the Bombers and it was close, but with Ray back at the helm and an excellent defence, the Argos are capable of beating all the teams in the CFL.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats were demolished by the Alouettes in Montreal and didn't look particularly good. The offense was terrible (although how much that was the Alouette defence is hard to say) and were outplayed thoroughly on special teams. Games like this are going to happen on occasion, especially on the road and doesn't mean the team is doomed. Now if they lose next week, things are more problematic.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Impressive outing by the Alouette defence at home against the usually offensively powerful Tabbies. The Alouettes, led by Chip Cox are clearly the best defence in the CFL and their special teams aren't bad either. Their offense was OK last week as well for once. Despite what TSN commentators would have you think, new Montreal quarterback Troy Smith had a mediocre game (below 50% completion rate). Can the Alouettes do it twice in a row and away from home?

6. BC Lions
Is Travis Lulay coming back this season? Hopefully, because the Lions aren't going to do much this year with DeMarco as the quarterback. The Lions seem to be weakening down the stretch. The Lions didn't look that great with Lulay in this year, so maybe the problem is that excluding the quarterback position, the Lions just aren't very good this year. Harris has had a subpar year so far compared to last year. Maybe Stefan Logan will help.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Came close to beating Toronto. That's something at least and Hall is a plausible starting CFL quarterback. The Bombers announced they're raising ticket prices this year. Since they're so bad this year, they could be better next year, but don't bet on it.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Weak offensive line, not very good defence and Fred Stamps. Stamps is good, but not good enough to help the worst team in the CFL out of the basement of the rankings. At least Stamps has his Humpty's commercials.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Raise Prices for 2014 Season

This Winnipeg Sun article reports that the Bombers are raising their ticket prices for 2014, despite a pretty lackluster campaign in 2013. Most aren't going up that much, but for those poor souls in section P7 (are there P7 Boys or their prairie equivalent?):

"The biggest jump in price is in the P7 category, which includes 4,400 seats at both ends of the upper deck. The price of those tickets is going up from $196.95 to $249, or an increase of more than 25%, but it remains the least expensive ticket available."

Actually $196.95 isn't bad for upper deck at the ends. My section 5 seats at Ivor Wynne which would seem to be equivalent were $300. Who knows what they'll be for the new stadium.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ticats at Alouettes Blowout Aftermath

Well that was ugly. I certainly thought Montreal had a chance, being at home and having an excellent defence. I didn't expect that blowout.

Montreal got ahead early and continued rolling throughout the first quarter. They benefited from some penalty calls that kept drives alive or gave good field position. Mainly the Montreal defence was the reason. Constantly blitzing, the Cats didn't have an answer in the first half (nor much of one in the second half either, although when LeFevour was in they were more effective). The Cats were sacked five times total in the game even though it seemed like it was more.

One could blame the line, but the pressure came from Montreal sending extra defenders, so some of the issue was not getting the ball away quickly. Having both Ellingson and Tasker injured was unfortunate as both are good for getting open inside and catching balls in tight coverage. Hopefully one of them is back next week. Having Simmons back from injury at tackle would help as well.

Montreal also had excellent tackling. The Cats had virtually no yards after first contact, while the Alouettes had a decent amount. Similarly on special teams, the Cats had little in the way of return yards, while Montreal had some decent returns, including some instances where the returner really should have been tackled.

One bright spot is that the Alouettes quarterback Troy Smith wasn't actually very good. He had 247 yards on 17 passes versus 35 attempts. Generally teams don't win very many games when the quarterback had less than a 50% completion. That didn't stop TSN commentators Chris Cuthbert and Glenn Suitor from coverage of Smith bordering on fellatio. I expect that from Rod Black, but generally CFL fans aren't stupid, you tell us once he won a Heismann and we will remember it. Smith did have three TDs versus no picks, but he had numerous passes that while hard thrown were no where near catchable. So that's a positive for the Cats at least for next week.

I'm assuming that Kent Austin will have the team fired up for next week at least and also will have looked at the tape and found some ways to adjust. The Cats really need to win this.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ticats at Alouettes, Half-Time

Uh, well that sucked. Montreal benefited from some penalties early (Ticats can be called for facemasks, Montreal not so much), but the Cats have played poorly and the Montreal defence has been great.

The game is probably too far gone, so the Cats might as well put Lefevour in for the second half to get some experience. I don't really blame Burris much as he was under a ton of pressure. What he could have done to help was make some runs rather than always going for a pass.

The commentators are saying that Troy Smith has looked good, but he's made enough terrible passes that really he hasn't played well. The Montreal defence is why this game isn't close.

Not having Tasker or Ellingson hurts as both of them seemed to be able to get open early inside, which really could have helped Burris.

Sometimes games get away from you. Too bad the Cats will lose their chance (pretty much) to host the East final.

Where's the CIS Football Coverage on TSN SportsCentre?

I saw the first part of the Guelph Queen's game yesterday, but didn't know how it ended. Still don't know. I watched a fair amount of SportsCentre yesterday, plus the full noon to 1 pm one today before the Ticats game. I saw no coverage at all of any CIS games. I did see some coverage of some Southern US college games, far from the Canadian border. Do I care about what Auburn did? Not particularly. Is there a lot of Auburn alumni watching TSN? I strongly doubt it.

Perhaps TSN's Chris Cuthbert and Jock Climie would like to know their alma mater's results?

I do realize that the game was on a Rogers Sportsnet channel and as far as I know, TSN shows no CIS regular season games. Do they still show the Vanier Cup? I'm not sure.

Certainly there's a case to be made for showing a few CIS highlights on a Saturday and on Sunday morning. At the least it builds the brand of players who will later play in the CFL, which TSN broadcasts all their games of.

Preview: Hamilton Ticats at Montreal Alouettes, October 20th 2013

What's interesting about the Ticats lineup this week versus last week? Non-import receiver Samuel Giguere is pencilled in the depth chart. Combine that with the offensive line starting four Canadians (Wojt is still at right tackle and O'Neill is at guard again this week) and I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen on offense.

The Cats have two Canadians starters on defence and need just five on offense for the ratio. With the four on the line and Fantuz, the Cats don't need Giguere for the ratio and indeed Dobson Collins is listed as a starting wide receiver, with Giguere listed behind Fantuz at one of the slot positions. Maybe Giguere will just be eased in and not play a lot of downs. Something to watch for.

Import Onrea Jones is listed as a starting wide receiver and imports Grant and Tasker ("his father played in the NFL!" Rod Black) are listed as two of the other slots. So still no Greg Ellingson. Non-import Delahunt is back at full back after being out with injury for a spell.

In theory with Delahunt in at fullback, the Cats would not even need Fantuz on the field as they could go with Jones, Dobson, Grant and Tasker as the slots and receivers. Something I doubt will happen, plus the Cats almost never use a fullback except for in obvious short running plays, preferring to go with five receivers.

On defence, Johnson looks like he'll be back at middle linebacker. Bulcke at defensive tackle and Stephen at safety are the two starting Canadians on defence. Dee Webb is still injured.

Congi is back at kicker, so hopefully that will placate all the callers on CHML's the Fifth Quarter. Unless he misses some field goals and the whole cycle will begin anew.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thoughts on the Argos at Ticats Thanksgiving Game

A little late to be talking about Monday's Ticat Argo tilt, but I have some thoughts. First C.J. Gable is turning out to be a great find for the Cats. He had 17 carries for 118 yards, for a solid 6.9 yard average and a TD. In addition he had five catches for 46 yards. Gable has a decent shot at 1,000 yards rushing this year. I'm assuming that Gable signed a two year deal plus a club option year, so potentially the Cats would have him for 2014 and 2015 as well, before he could try the NFL as a free agent. Getting rid of the possibility of option year players to sign with the NFL certainly improves things as a fan.

Luke Tasker had seven catches for 113 yards to lead the Ticats receivers. Ellingson being injured is giving Tasker a chance to make an impression. With Tasker, I wonder if Kent Austin (his coach at Cornell) didn't come back to the CFL to coach, would he have ever had had a chance to make an impression in the CFL? Maybe a team might have invited him to camp, but would they have had any faith in him? Football can be a lucky business and sometimes successful players got their initial chance through luck.

Dobson Collins also had a good game, second in receiving yards with 69 on five catches. With the success the Cats have had with a variety of receivers this year, that speaks well of both Burris, the offensive line and the offensive system.

Fantuz only had two catches for 33 yards. Is his injury still bugging him, or was he just getting a lot of double coverage. Grant only had four catches for 31 yards, so I'm assuming the Argos were putting weaker coverage on Collins and Tasker.

Burris had a great game, with 350 yards passing on 27 completed passes versus 36 attempts. A 75% completion rate is excellent against the Argos defense. One pick versus no TDs, but even Ricky Ray had a pick.

The defence had a good game as well. Bussey, in at linebacker for the injured Jamal Johnson had six tackles. The Cats had two sacks, a pick and a forced fumble which isn't bad.

Overall an excellent game against a tough opponent in a game they needed to win for any hope of home field advantage for the Eastern Final.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Montreal Alouettes Announce Concussed Anthony Calvillo Is Done for 2013 CFL Season

Sad to hear, although as a Ticat fan I would rather be facing Neiswander than Calvillo. Is this it for Calvillo? I think there's a decent possibility it is. Calvillo wasn't that great this year even before he was injured and next year he'll be a year older and coming off a concussion ended season. Perhaps more importantly for Montreal, he has a very high salary and in a league with a low salary cap, that money has to come from somewhere. Too bad it may end this way, but in professional sports, the end is rarely pretty.

2013 CFL Predictions Week 17

Calgary at Edmonton
This should be a no brainer game. The Stampeders are the best team in the league and Edmonton is pretty much the worst. Kevin Glenn has been effective after emerging as the starter and Jon Cornish either the best or second best running back in the league depending on whether you're a Rider fan or not. Edmonton has a bad offensive line and a mediocre defense. The Esks have nothing really left to play for except the rivalry, while the Stamps would like to lock down first in the East. The Eskimos will probably play with pride and then lose a close one for yet another moral victory.
Stampeders 37 Eskimos 32

Toronto at Winnipeg
Somewhat shockingly the Bombers are coming off a win and the Argos a loss. In theory the Bombers could still get a playoff spot, but don't have much room for error. The Argos have the inside track on home field advantage in the East and beating Winnipeg this week would certainly help. The Argos had a lot of injuries in their loss to Hamilton last week, however they did have Ricky Ray back at quarterback. Ray looked rusty in the first half, however by the end of the game he piled up some decent stats, without Chad Kackert at running back. The Bombers could win, but two wins in a row is too much to ask this bad team and Toronto will be looking to get back on track after two straight losses and more importantly losing the beloved Harold Ballard Cup to the Ticats.
Argonauts 33 Bombers 24

BC at Saskatchewan
This one is an important game for determining who has home field advantage for the West semi-final (I'm pretty much conceding that the Stamps will host the final). The game is in Saskatchewan, which obviously helps the Riders, plus the flatlanders also have a healthy Kory Sheets. BC still is Lulayless which hurts. DeMarco has been decent so far in relief, but will be hard pressed in Mosaic. Expect the Lions to lose.
Riders 29 Lions 25

Hamilton at Montreal
This one is a bit hard to call. Montreal managed to lose to Winnipeg last week at home, which can't be great for momentum. Plus with the loss, it will be difficult for the Alouettes to catch Hamilton for a home playoff game, despite how much Mark Cohen probably loathes a 13,000 stadium hosting a playoff game. Hamilton can catch Toronto as long as they win one more game than the Argos over the last three games, which won't be easy with the Argos playing two of them against the hapless Bombers. Hamilton is the hotter team, coming off two straight victories, with an offense that is clicking and an improved defence. The Alouettes have the better defence, but with Neiswander in instead of Calvillo, their offense will end up screwing them. Cats win.
Ticats 37 Alouettes 28

CFL 2013 Thanksgiving Television Ratings

The Eh Game blog has the Canadian sports television ratings for the past weekend, which includes the Thanksgiving games. The two Thanksgiving games were third and fourth overall, with the Hamilton Toronto game receiving 956,000 viewers making it the top CFL game of the week. Both teams have trouble drawing fans to their stadiums in Southern Ontario, however those teams can do well in the ratings when it is an important game (and when nothing else is on the television due to the holiday). Considering the value of the Argos for television ratings (and maybe the Ticats), the league might want to pony up some cash for a new stadium. The NFL regularly helps out teams with stadium costs.

The 956,000 number on TSN is also respectable compared to the second place Canucks Habs game at 1,374,000, especially considering that more people can watch CBC (potentially without cable) than TSN.

The Eskimos and Riders game had a respectable 778,000 viewers for the earlier Thanksgiving game, for fourth place which actually seems a bit low for a Rider game, although Edmonton is now out of it.

The Bombers and Alouettes was the third ranked CFL game and sixth overall with 686,000. I'm not sure whether this includes RDS or not. The Lions Stamps game was the fourth ranked game and seventh overall with 659,000 viewers.

I'm a little surprised that the NHL has jumped on the Thanksgiving bandwagon with a couple of games featuring Canadian teams, however it is better for the CFL that they haven't. Frankly I'm surprised the league hasn't made two games traditional. Hamilton at Toronto would be a logical one, considering it is after the baseball regular season, plus a Western match up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 16

1. Calgary Stampeders
You can't really argue with 12 and 3. They've done it with a combination of different quarterbacks, which even strengthens their power ranking as they are more resilient to the traditional bugaboo of a good football team, starting quarterback injury. They've still been successful without receiver Nik Lewis as well, but having Jon Cornish as your starting running back means the passing game isn't as important. Throw in an excellent front defensive four and you have a team that wins a lot.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders are a far better team now that running back Kory Sheets is healthy. Without him, quarterback Darian Durrant is mediocre, with him, he's significantly better as is the entire team. Sure the Riders barely managed to beat the Eskimos, but good teams are going to win close games occasionally rather than blowing out teams every week. The Riders certainly aren't looking as invincible as earlier in the season.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats have won two straight over their arch rivals, the Toronto Argonauts and now have a chance at winning the East overall. The Cats have basically the only elite quarterback who has started all year (sorry Mike Reilly) and so many quality receivers that injuries don't matter. C. J. Gable is emerging as one of the better backs in the CFL and is arguably the best at receiving. The defence is no longer terrible either as they were earlier in the season.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Strangely the Argos were on top of the world, winning four straight on the road against some of the CFL's best teams without starting quarterback Ricky Ray. Then they played two games against the Ticats and lost both. Ricky Ray was back in the last game and was good statwise, but still had a bit of rust. Likely after playing a game, Ray will be better this week, plus the Argos still have a solid defence (although that wasn't evident in the last two games).

5. BC Lions
Uh, is Travis Lulay coming back? DeMarco is OK as a quarterback, but at this point in the season he's not good enough yet to compete with the best teams in the league. Andrew Harris is having a good season, but not as good as last year. The rest of the Lion receivers are kind of meh. The defence is still respectable, but if the Lions want to do anything in the playoffs, Lulay will have to come back and play well.

6. Montreal Alouettes
By losing to the lowly Bombers at home and the Ticats winning, the Alouettes have pretty much crapped the bed at their chance to catch Hamilton and have a home playoff game. Now they have to not totally suck to hold off the semi-surging Blue Bombers for the last playoff spot in the East. Kind of embarrassing, but that's what happens when Anthony Calvillo's head is scrambled.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With a win, the Bombers are firmly out of the basement of the power rankings. Beating the Alouettes at home almost warrants the Bombers up a further spot, but they've only won three games in 2013, which obviously isn't much. Is Hall the real deal in Winnipeg at the quarterback position? Who knows. However their offense didn't suck enough to trash a good outing by their defence so maybe there's hope for next year.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos lost yet another close game, this one on the road to Saskatchewan. Edmonton has had some moral victories, but not a lot of victories. Will Kavis Reed get the boot at the end of the year? Probably. Will Edmonton lose out the season. Probably.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Toronto at Hamilton Pre-Game Thoughts

I'm on the way up to Guelph, with seats in the Parkway Nissan box. So go buy a Nissan from them.

Probably the biggest news is that Ricky Ray is starting as the Argos quarterback. He's an upgrade on Collaros last week, however there's probably some rust. Ray generally has a really high completion percentage, with a lot of short passes plus the occasional bomb. The Cats will have to watch for yards after the catch by Andre Durie and Chad Owens. Supposedly Chad Kackert is injured at running back. I doubt that makes much of a difference as whoever replaces him is probably just as good. 

For the Cats, Jamal Johnson may be injured which would hurt or he may play. The Cats are again going with non-import Wojt at right tackle with O'Neill taking his usial guard spot. Another week without import Greg Ellingson at receiver. He looked like a lock a few weeks ago for rookie of the year, but if he doesn't play soon that won't happen. Import receivers Collins and Tasker (son of former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker) are in this week. Still no Samuel Giguerre either. 

Having home field advantage should help the Cats this week. Winning this week gives the Cats a slight shot at winning the East, but more importantly gives a big advantage against the Alouettes for a home playoff game. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Saskatchewan Roughriders Financial Report Numbers 2012

In the previous post I was pondering over the Ticats merchandise and how it sells relative to other CFL and Canadian pro sports teams. Saskatchewan has merchandise sales that are third overall in Canada behind the Leafs and Canadiens. However interestingly the Riders are a public owned team and make public their annual report.

This Regina Leader-Post article has the highlights of the report for 2012. Gross revenues were $34.4 million versus $32.2 million in expenses. These expenses would be a lot higher than any other CFL team and are unique to Saskatchewan.

Gate receipts were $13.1 million which again would be way higher than any other team, although Edmonton might not be far behind.

Football expenses were $10.9 million which is a useful number as it would be similar for other CFL teams. This would include the $4.4 million salary cap, coaches salaries, plus one would assume equipment expenses, travel, scouting and the other costs associated with running a CFL team.

Merchandise sales were over $7 million which I would assume would lead the CFL by a wide margin (I seem to recall something about the Ticats recently selling over $1 million in merchandise in a year (third best in the CFL)) and thus it is likely the Riders outsell all other CFL teams combined). I'm not sure if this is the total sales or the profit on the sale of the items.

Sponsorship was $5.2 million. I've heard that Montreal has high sponsorship revenues but I'm not sure how comparable these would be to the Riders. I've never heard a Ticat number, but obviously it would be significantly less.

Concessions sales were $3.8 million. Again I'm not sure if this is total sales or profits. All concessions have a pretty massive markup (i.e. beer). 

Ticats Store at Ticat HQ and Ticats Merchandise Ranking Amongst Canadian Teams

I stopped by the store at Ticats HQ this week and I was impresses by the raw number of apparel items the Cats had. Compared to the offerings before Bob Young owned the team, the Cats have come a long way. I was particularly impressed that one could buy a Ticat hammer as well as a Ticat measuring tape.

I've heard the Cats are third amongst CFL teams in terms of merchandise sales. Obviously Saskatchewan is number one. I'm not sure which team is number three, likely it is one of the Alouettes, Eskimos, Lions or Stampeders. The Riders are apparently number three amongst all Canadian pro teams, behind the Leafs and Canadiens with $10 million in merchandise sales in 2011 according to this Toronto Star article.

I'm guessing the Ticats would not rank ahead of any of the Canadian NHL teams and certainly not the Blue Jays (although for the Jays you pretty much only see baseball caps). The Raptors? Probably not. Toronto FC seemed to sell a lot of merchandise for a few seasons, but nowadays after numerous shit the bed seasons you don't see as much. 

2013 CFL Predictions Week 16

BC at Calgary
The Lions still don't have quarterback Travis Lulay back which is definitely a problem. DeMarco is decent, but isn't at Lulay's level yet as proved in their loss at home to the Riders last week. The Stampeders  do have their starting quarterback Kevin Glenn playing (I think at this point Drew Tate can't be considered the starter). The Stamps are at home and are coming off a win where non-import running back Jon Cornish was particularly effective. The Stamps can go a long way towards locking up home field advantage or at least a home playoff game. Expect them to win.
Stamps 28 Lions 19

Edmonton at Saskatchewan
The Riders proved that with Kory Sheets back at running back, they were capable of beating the Lions on the road after four straight losses. Edmonton proved last week they are still a bad team. Last I heard, Sheets is available this week and the Riders are at home. The Riders also picked up defensive end Alex Hall from the Bombers (who happens to lead the CFL in sacks) for a small bag of Old Dutch dill pickle flavour chips). One of those games where there's not a lot to say.
Riders 40 Eskimos 13

Winnipeg at Montreal
The Bombers have no chance at the playoffs and are basically playing out the string and trying to figure out who should be back next year, which probably includes starting quarterback Max Hall.
The Bombers won't have Alex Hall on their defense as previously mentioned, but will go with oft injured Hamilton castoff Greg Peach. Montreal will counter with Neiswander at quarterback. The Alouettes are sort of hot, winning two games straight, the Bombers not so much. The Alouettes could potentially still host a home playoff game so they'll be motivated.
Alouettes 27 Bombers 12

Toronto at Hamilton
The Argos lost in Toronto against the Cats last week after four straight road wins, some against tough opponents with backup quarterback Collaros at the helm. Starter Ricky Ray could be back this week which would be an improvement but not a massive one. Hamilton could in theory catch the Argos for first in the East, but more likely a win would solidify their chances of hosting the East semi-final. The Cats still have some injury problems, like Ellingson and Giguere amongst the receivers, but have built a reasonable team and Burris has been healthy at quarterback despite the massive number of sacks the Cats have coughed up. The Cats are at home in Guelph, and even if Ray plays, he'll probably have a little rust.
Ticats 26 Argonauts 22

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ticats Fans Booted From Rogers Centre, Loud Cheering Cited

Rick Zamperin has a funny story about some Ticats fans being booted by security at last Friday's game against the Argos for cheering too loudly.

I think that says pretty much everything that's wrong with Toronto sports fandom.

Watching the game on TSN it did seem that good play by the Ticats did get some decent cheering. That could be important if the Cats end up playing in Dead Ted's Dome (TM) in the playoffs.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 15

1. Toronto Argonauts
Sure they lost, but it was to Hamilton which is a decent team. The defence is still decent and the team is great in the second half. With Ricky Ray close to returning, the Argos are that much better. Not that Collaros is bad, but Ray will be efficient in the first half.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Sure they whipped the Blue Bombers, but that's not saying a lot. Still with both Kevin Glenn and Jon Cornish playing healthy the Stamps have a great offense. Throw in Charleston Hughes on defense and that's a good team.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders without running back Kory Sheets? Not very good. With him? A lot better and able to beat BC on the road. Darian Durant is a good quarterback, but much more effective when he doesn't have to throw every down and where play action is a genuine threat. As long as Sheets remains healthy, the Riders are a good team.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Beat the Argos at home, proving the Cats can beat a good team and not just the also rans. The Cats have a rarity in the CFL, a healthy starting quarterback. The Cats do have a lot of injury problems including in the receiving corps but the Cats have found OK replacements. Hamilton does seem to not be capable of putting together two wins in a row though.

5. BC Lions
When is Travis Lulay coming back? His replacement DeMarco isn't bad, he isn't Lulay. The Lions aren't a bad team, but without Lulay they're confined to mediocrity, like losing at home to the Riders.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes are coming off a big victory but it was against one of the CFL's wanker teams, the Edmonton Eskimos which were led by a likely concussed quarterback. The Alouettes have a great defence, but without Anthony Calvillo their offense is a work in progress.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos are a bad team and now they can't make the playoffs. Will coach Kavis Reed survive?

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Surprise, surprise the Bombers lost again. And they've traded their best rush end for some magic beans. At least they'll have a couple games against the Rouge et Noir next year.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ticats at Argos Half-Time, October 4th 2013

Good to see the Cats with a big lead after the first half.

Steve Tasker gets his first TD which fortunately for us, Rod Black isn't doing the broadcast, otherwise we would hear endlessly who his father was.

Interestingly the Cats started non-import Wojt at right tackle, breaking with their several year habit of starting two import tackles. If the import isn't any good, it isn't worth wasting a spot on him. O'Neill started at Wojt's guard spot.

Dobson Collins didn't do bad as a receiver so far. The Cats seem to have no difficulty finding import receivers. Still no Greg Ellingson which hurts.

Gable had a good game so far. Burris also did well apart from that one interception that was either under or over thrown.

Durie burnt the Cats pretty badly with yards after the catch. Owens didn't really do much.

2013 CFL Prediction Week 15

Hamilton at Toronto
Arguably it is easier to get from downtown Hamilton to Dead Ted's Dome in downtown Toronto than to Alumni stadium in Guelph so there may be a fair number of Cat fans in attendance. I hoped to be among them, but I have a deadline at midnight tonight which may or may not be affected by the US government shutdown. Thanks House Republicans.

But I digress. Apparently Ricky Ray will dress, but that sounds like code that he won't start. I still think that Collaros isn't as good as Ray, but is still pretty good. The Cats are coming off a stinker at home, and aren't great on the road or against good CFL teams. I think the Cats have a decent shot, but the Argos defence at home will be too much for them.
Argos 28 Ticats 24

Saskatchewan at BC
I'm assuming that Travis Lulay is still out for BC. Normally one would go with the Riders with their starter at quarterback against a backup, but the Riders have lost four straight with Durant at the controls and BC has done well with DeMarco as their replacement quarterback. BC is at home as well. However Kory Sheets is back at running back so that's enough for me to take the Riders. Riders 24 Lions 19

Montreal at Edmonton
Neither team has their starting quarterback due to concussion issues. Kerry Joseph is the Eskimos backup and considerably more experienced than Neiswander who starts for the Alouettes. Joseph is a million years old and is long ways from when he was good. The Alouettes do have a great defence which I think will be the difference in this one. The Eskimos are bad on and off the road.
Alouettes 33 Eskimos 15

Winnipeg at Calgary
Uh, Calgary? Not hard to pick this one, especially with the Stampeders being at home and the Bombers being the Bombers.
Stampeders 39 Bombers 22