Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When Will the 2016 Grey Cup Location Be Announced?

I've predicted that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will get to host the 2016 Grey Cup on this blog. The game hasn't been here since 1996 and before that 1972.

When will we find out the location of the 2016 game? The location for next year's game in Winnipeg, was announced earlier this year on March 24th. So expect only a few more months for the 2016 announcement. Ottawa might also be a possibility, but I'm thinking that 2017 might be a better possibility for them.

Although a question is would the league have back to back games in Ontario? With two new stadiums and the fact that Ottawa and Hamilton aren't super close, I don't think that's a big deal.

When Does the 2015 CFL Schedule Come Out?

Sure it still is 2014, but that isn't to early to start wondering when the 2015 schedule comes out. Last year the schedule came out somewhat early, coming out on February 12th. That seems strange considering both Hamilton and Ottawa had stadiums that would not be ready initially (and in Hamilton's case we all know it wasn't ready until Labour Day) and that meant planning the schedule  should have been more difficult than normal.

This year with Tim Horton's Field and TD Place done, scheduling should become significantly easier. Hamilton can have a game whenever they want now and Ottawa I suppose has to work with their soccer team, although I'm guessing the REDBLACKS have priority. Montreal has some limitations in that games at Percival Molson Stadium have to be on Sundays when McGill is in session, but they can have a game pretty much every week if they want.

The main problem for CFL scheduling is the Toronto Argonauts at the Rogers Centre and having to work around the Blue Jays and whatever other road blocks Rogers puts in the team's way. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays schedule has been out for a while now. The Jays are away from July 3rd to the 12th, so having the home opener then looks plausible. The Jays are also away for the Friday after Labour Day, so the Ticats and Argos could potentially have a home and home. The last Jays regular season home game is on Sunday September 27th.

Strangely the schedule was released really late in 2013, only coming out around March 5th. In 2012 it was on February 18th. It was also February 18th in 2011.

So a good prediction might be February 12th this year, or maybe a couple of days earlier since the stadiums are all ready.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 CFL Top Five Non-Import Tacklers

Traditionally CFL teams don't start many Canadians on defence. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were a bit of an anomaly this year, regularly starting three and occasionally four in 2014. If you don't start, you can't be amongst the top tacklers in the CFL.

So I decided to look at the top five non-import tacklers to try and figure out who the most valuable non-import defenders are in the CFL. Tackles aren't necessarily the best way to evaluate a player, but there is some valuable information there.

The player with the most tackles in the CFL in 2014 was BC's Solomon Elimimian with a massive 143 tackles, considerably more than Bear Woods of the Alouettes who was second with 89. That's obviously unusual.

The non-import with the most tackles in 2014 was the Argos' linebacker Shea Emry with 72 tackles (and a sack). That's good for 11th overall. Emry had 87 tackles in 2012 with the Alouettes.

Second was defensive back Antoine Pruneau from the REDBLACKS with 69 tackles, good enough for 13th overall. Pruneau was a rookie out of UQAM that I honestly didn't know much about, probably because I never paid much attention to Ottawa this season apart from how Burris was doing.

Third was former Ticat Matt Bucknor, who now plays for Winnipeg, a defensive back with 62 tackles, good enough for 23th overall with several players.

Fourth was another Winnipeg Blue Bomber, safety Teague Sherman, with 55 tackles, good enough for 31st overall.

Fifth was defensive end Ricky Foley from the Saskatchewan Rough Riders with 54 tackles, tied for 32nd overall with several players. Foley also had 12 sacks, which was close to the league leaders and I think the most for a Canadian in 2014.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Green Bay Packers Tryout for Ticats Receiver Luke Tasker has a report about Ticats receiver Luke Tasker havinga workout for the Green Bay Packers. That's not all that surprising considering the two seasons Tasker has had, although his size isn't particularly well suited towards the NFL game.

Tasker may well not make a game day NFL roster, but he could easily get an invite to a training camp, which would mean he would miss the beginning of the CFL season.  One would have to think the Tiger-Cats are in the driver's seat to resign the free agent among the CFL teams considering Tasker is from Buffalo.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ticats Resign Defensive End Eric Norwood

Good news for Ticats fans, as the team has resigned defensive end Eric Norwood through 2016. Norwood led the team with 13 sacks, which is impressive considering he didn't play all 18 games.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photo of Percival Molson Stadium in Winter

Spent some time in Alouette land last week and wandered by Percival Molson Stadium at McGill on my way to Schwartz's for some smoke meat. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Did Pigskin Pete Ever Get on the Field For the 102nd Grey Cup?

Before the Grey Cup, Dan Black, the fourth of the Pigskin Petes, tweeted that he wouldn't be allowed at field level for the Grey Cup. Whatever happened with that? I didn't really notice him watching the game on television, but then again TSN has never seemed to have a lot of love for Pete over the years.

CFL Team Twitter Follower Numbers, December 2014

Which CFL team has the most Twitter followers? Which has the least? Unsurprisingly the Riders have the most (as of today):

Saskatchewan Roughriders 101,000
BC Lions 64,900
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 63,300
Montreal Alouettes 60,300
Toronto Argonauts 57,300
Calgary Stampeders 53,500
Edmonton Eskimos 48,300
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 47,600
Ottawa REDBLACKS 27,600

So the Ticats are second last in the CFL, ahead of the obviously new REDBLACKS. But they aren't that far behind the other teams. However the Ticats follow the least people, while some teams are following whores by comparison, which may be boosting their own follower numbers:

Saskatchewan Roughriders 18,900
Toronto Argonauts 13,900
BC Lions 3509
Montreal Alouettes 1364
Calgary Stampeders 680
Ottawa REDBLACKS 679
Edmonton Eskimos 620
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 447
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 139

I'm not sure why the Ticats follow so few people on Twitter, but they do follow less than one hundredth of what the Argos do. Do the Ticats follow all their players? Or maybe when a player leaves the team, they unfollow them because they don't want them cluttering up their Twitter feed.

I'm a little surprised that Edmonton has so few followers, but perhaps as a community owned team they're not as focused on social media as a private company would be. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

ESPN Clip of Stampeder Punter Rob Maver Being Destroyed By Justin Hickman

ESPN has a clip up of Calgary punter being annihilated by Tiger-Cat defensive end Justin Hickman during the second half of the 2014 Grey Cup. Maver left the game after the block, where he ended up hitting another Stampeder. Pretty vicious.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

McMaster Up 13 to 3 in 2014 Vanier Cup at Half-Time Over Montreal

I only listened to the game for most of the half, but Mac has used a suffocating defence against the Montreal Carabins and their star quarterback whose name escapes me to dominate the first half. I'm not sure how many sacks there were, but there was a lot (Sportsnet showed 6).

Mac has been losing the turnover battle with a fumble and an interception while Montreal has only fumbled once. Marshall Ferguson has outplayed his Montreal counterpart (I looked it up, Gabriel Cousineau), but hasn't faced the pressure Cousineau has.

I actually would have liked to see Mac get a shot at Laval this year after how they've played in this half. Especially considering the media talk was that Montreal was heavily favoured. Even coach Ptaszek seemed to be peddling that line of thinking, although I'm sure he was using it as motivation.

Mac just has to play smart the rest of the game to win.

Can McMaster Beat Montreal in the 2014 Vanier Cup

From what I've read in the media, the Montreal Carabins seem to be heavily favoured over the Mac Marauders in today's Vanier Cup (number 50). A lot of that has to do with beat the heavily favoured Laval Rouge et Or twice this season, including in the Dunsmore Cup to win the Quebec conference.

However last week the Carabins only beat the University of Manitoba Bisons 29 to 26. Manitoba only went 4 and 4 during the regular season in the Canada West, themselves upsetting the Calgary Dinos to win the Hardy Cup. I haven't checked, but I doubt the Bisons were in the top ten at the end of the regular season. Against Montreal, Manitoba actually had 25 first down to the Carabins 21.

Montreal didn't have much of a running game at all, rushing 22 times for a 2.9 average. Mac obviously has a good run defence, so don't expect the Carabins to gain a lot on the ground. Montreal does have a good passing game gaining a massive 421 yards on 24 for 35 passing. This may be way Mac has a chance, as the Mac secondary is arguably one of the best in Canada led by fifth year player Joey Cupido, who has a lot of interceptions in his career. If Mac is going to win, they're going to have to have some picks.

Montreal was also heavily penalized, with 11 infractions for 81 yards versus 4 for 30 for Manitoba.

Montreal gave up 4.3 yards per carry to Manitoba so that's good for Mac's run game.

Of course the X-factor is that the game is in Montreal. If it were in Southern Ontario, I doubt Montreal would be favoured as much as they are.

Friday, November 28, 2014

When Will the Ticats Be Awarded the 2016 Grey Cup?

I've written a while ago about the Ticats probably hosting the 2016 Grey Cup. Amusingly that post gets a lot of views. Tim Horton's Field will be completely ready one assumes and Winnipeg will have hosted the 2015 Grey Cup in their new stadium.

I looked and apparently the announcement that the Bombers were going to be hosting the 2015 event was made this year around March 26th. So likely at the end of March next year, we'll hopefully get confirmation and the team and city can start planning.

One issue is how many seats the Ticats can add in the end zones for the Grey Cup to get above 24,000 seats. The Ticats do have a lot of box seating, which I'm assuming would be priced expensively for the Grey Cup.

The last time the Cats hosted was 1996, which while a great game, wasn't exactly a great financial success (the previous Grey Cup before that was in 1972). I think it is fair to say that Hamilton is doing better than in 1996 (with way more downtown hotel space) and with Bob Young and his Ticat organization leading the preparations, a 2016 Grey Cup would stand a much better chance of success.

Ottawa is obviously an option, but I see them more likely to host the 2017 Grey Cup. Likely their team would be better by then and have a better chance to be in the Cup.

Good Adam Radwanski Piece in The Globe and Mail

Adam Radwanski who writes about politics in the Globe and is an avid Argo fan has a nice piece about his father and him going to Argos games.

Pigskin Pete Not Allowed On Field For Grey Cup 102

I just saw a tweet from Pigskin Pete (Dan Black) saying he isn't allowed on the field for the Grey Cup between Hamilton and Calgary:

"Just informed I'm not allowed on the field for the very upset 10 years and this is what it's all for and not allowed #? " @pigskin_peteIV

This obviously seems wrong. Pete is an icon and something the CFL should be celebrating.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 Eastern Final Ticats Lineup Analysis - Andy Fantuz and Peter Dyakowski in the Lineup

First it should be mentioned that Andy Fantuz AND Peter Dyakowski are on the lineup card. Obviously Fantuz and his hamstring have been a question mark for the past several weeks. Whether he will actually play is another question. Dyakowski's return is interesting after being injured in last year's Grey Cup. The Cats have been staring an American guard for a lot of the season, which they unlikely would not have if Dyakowski wasn't injured. Dyakowski isn't starting mind you.

The Ticats go as usual with two import tackles, Olson at left and Figueroa at right. Import Simmons again starts at right guard, with O'Neill as the left guard and Filer as the centre. So yet again the Cats go with the unusual three import offensive line as they pretty much mostly have this season.

Import Tasker and Giguere are the wideouts. The starting slots are import Grant and Fantuz. Sinkfield is listed as the third slot and Banks backs up Tasker. Non-imports Coates, who played some while Fantuz' was injured is listed as Gigure's backups. The not often used non-import Prime is the fullback with Grigsby listed as the starting running back with Madu backing him up. Collaros starts at pivot with McGee as the backup.

With Fantuz and Giguere in that's four offensive starters on offense and if they're in with Prime, that's five.

Banks and Sinkfield return punts and kicks.

The defensive ends are Norwood and Hickman, with non-import Laurent starting at tackle and Hall the other tackle. All three backups on the line are imports, including end Gascon-Nadon.

Lawrence, Reed and Harris are the three starting linebackers. No Bowman backing up this game.

The corners are Breaux and the non-import Stephen. The halfbacks are Stewart and the protean Rico Murray (rather than at linebacker). The non-import Butler starts at safety, which is three non-import defensive starters, which as I've hammered home all year is an anomaly in the CFL.

Medlock punts and kicks.

No Greg Ellingson. I'm not sure if he's still really injured or just has been supplanted by Tasker. Maybe I should go to practice one day. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Montreal Up 15 to 3 on BC

After low scoring first quarter the Alouettes pulled away by 12 points. The Alouettes had a late TD by Carter. 

Crompton has looked OK while Glenn hasn't looked good at all, going 4 for 15 for a measly 43 yards. Unless Glenn can turn I around, the Montreal Alouettes are going to Hamilton. 

2014 CFL East and West Semi-Final Predictions

So it's playoff time in the CFL. I've waited until just before game time to make my predictions, not because I wanted the most info, but because I'm lazy.

BC at Montreal
The Lions cross-over from the West with a 9 and 9 record, the same as the Alouettes (and the Ticats). The Alouettes could have avoided this game by losing by less than seven in Hamilton last week, but they've been hot, going 7 and 2 in the second half. The Lions were 4 and 5 in the last half of the season and all those victories were over the Bombers and the REDBLACKS. So there's that.

There's rumours that quarterback Travis Lulay could play and he isn't on the injured list, but I don't expect him to be a factor. More troubling for BC of late has been running back Andrew Harris being on the six game injured list.

The game is outside in Montreal which I think benefits the Alouettes although running back Brandon Whitaker is injured. The Als are only favoured by three points which is pretty much the average spread for a home team in the CFL, indicating the teams are evenly matched.

BC has in the past won a cross-over game (with Casey Printers at quarterback over Hamilton), but I think Montreal wins this in a close one due to their better defence.
Alouettes 22 Lions 17

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
If quarterback Mike Reilly wasn't injured, the Eskimos would have to be favoured over the Riders without Darian Durant. Instead we have a battle of backup quarterbacks in Edmonton.

Edmonton has been the better team, especially of late when the Riders have been terrible after Durant went down with an elbow injury. The Riders have gone so far as to resurrect Kerry Joseph's career (at least they didn't call Michael Bishop) and he starts this game over Tino Sunseri who himself has mostly been crap.

The Eskimos go with backup Matt Nichols who has mostly been mediocre and certainly isn't Reilly.

Both teams have decent running games, Saskatchewan relying on it heavily even with Durant healthy early in the year. Mid-November in Edmonton probably isn't going to be great weather wise, and with backups aplenty don't expect the air game to do much.

Last I checked the Eskimos were favoured by seven at home. I still think they will win, but this game is more interesting with Reilly hurt. There will likely be a lot of Rider fans in the stands, but it won't make much difference.

Eskimos 19 Riders 15

Saturday, November 15, 2014

McMaster Win 2014 Yates Cup, Beating Guelph 20 to 15

Guelph made it close at the end, with the possibility of scoring a TD late, but Guelph ended up turning it over on downs and Mac knelt down to run out the clock.

Mac won off a good defence and solid running by Chris Pezzetta and the offensive line. Quarterback Marshall Ferguson had an OK game, but the Mac running game was the main driver on offense, with a lot of second effort yards.

Mac now plays Mount Allison at home next week on Saturday at four pm for the Mitchell Bowl and the right to play in the Vanier Cup. The game will be on Sportsnet. Rogers couldn't bother to send a broadcast crew for this game, which is pretty sad, but Cable 14 did a good job on their broadcast.

A Look At The Nine 2014 Ticat CFL East All-Stars

The Ticats placed nine players on the CFL East all-star list. The Montreal Alouettes had ten. The Cats had three players on offense, all imports. A bit strangely, Nic Grigsby, who the Cats picked up after Winnipeg released him and only played three games for Hamilton. That's probably more to do with the lack of running backs staying healthy this year in the East.

Luke Tasker made the list after leading the Ticats in receiving yards and being close to 1000. Brian Simmoms made the list as a guard. Almost no guards are imports in the CFL, so an import guard all-star is a rarity.

On defence, the Cats had a massive six players. Unusually two of them were non-imports, defensive tackle Ted Laurent and safety Craig Butler. Non-import starters are fairly rare in the CFL and all-star non-imports are rarer. The Ticats unusual import strength on defence gave the team a lot of ratio flexiblity, which is probably why the team ended up 9 and 9 even with a lot of roster turmoil.

Defensive end Eric Norwood, linebacker Simoni Lawrence, cornerback Delvin Breaux and halfback (and often linebacker) Derico Murray were the other defensive all-stars.

Brandon Banks rounded out the Cat all-stars making it on special teams.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ticats Ted Laurent Named East's Nominee For Most Outstanding Canadian 2014

Just saw that the CFL announced that defensive tackle Ted Laurent was nominated as the East's candidate for most outstanding Canadian.

That's somewhat unusual for a defensive player to be nominated and more unusual for a defensive tackle (if it is a defender I think it is more likely to be a linebacker). Laurent finished 2014 with nine sacks, which is impressive for an interior lineman. Laurent, a Mississippi product playing in his fourth year also had 24 sacks. I seem to recall Laurent also having a few pass knockdowns during the year.

Usually receivers end up winning outstanding Canadian (Fantuz likely would have had a chance of being the nominee if he had played all the games and had 1000 yards receiving), but the East didn't have much in terms of receivers this year.

I think Butler would have been a reasonable selection as well as he had a good season this year as a safety, but Laurent is legitimately one of the best defensive tackles in the CFL and is an excellent choice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 CFL Power Rankings: End of the Season Edition

1. Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps won a meaningless game to them to end the season and end up 15 and 3, way ahead of any other team. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is healthy, Jon Cornish if not completely healthy has two week to rest up. You can't really argue against the Stamps as the top team.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats had to win to get in the playoffs and win by eight points to finish first in the East for the first time since 1998. They did that handily and did it without star non-import receiver Andy Fantuz. The Cats actually had a run game in bad weather with former Blue Bomber running back Nick Grigsby. The Cats finished with defensive end Eric Norwood tied for second in the league for sacks and Justin Hickman returned from the NFL as the other end. Zac Collaros has emerged as one of the better CFL quarterbacks (when healthy) and the Ticat defense is arguably one of the best now in the CFL. The Cats started poorly but were one of the hottest teams in the second half. The Cats now too have two weeks off which should help them get back Fantuz.

3. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes are the other team that was incredibly hot in the second half, going 7 and 2. Jonathon Crompton has emerged from being dumped by the Eskimos into a reasonable CFL starter with two talented receivers in Green and Carter. The Alouette defense wasn't terrible in the first half, but in the second half they're arguably the best in the CFL.

4. Edmonton Eskimos
Normally the Eskimos would be ranked higher, but there's a lot of rumours swirling around about the health of quarterback Mike Reilly (including a rumour about a broken foot). Nicholls his backup is better than your average CFL backup, but not as good as Reilly. The Eskimos lost their last game on the road to the Riders,  which didn't really matter in the standings for the Eskimos. Obviously Edmonton still has a great defence and a good running game, but problems with your starting quarterback are going to hurt.

5. Toronto Argonauts
Sure they're not in the playoffs, but they managed to beat Ottawa handily without Ricky Ray, who I'm assuming would be healthy this week if the Argos actually made the playoffs. But they didn't, so boohoo for the few Argos fans there are.

6. BC Lions
The Lions lost to Calgary at home this past week. The Lions have been losing a lot of late in the CFL. There's rumours of Travis Lulay being back, but honestly if he does come back, the first sack that happens his shoulder will pop out again.

7. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders have also lost a lot in the second half without Darian Durant at quarterback. They did manage to win this past week. Like Lulay there's rumours of Durant being back, but I'm skeptical. The Riders have a good defence and a good running game, but at this time of the year their passing offense is way behind the other teams. They better pray for bad weather.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Didn't play last week, so in theory they would probably be healthier this week. But they are out of the playoffs so the point is moot.

Managed to shit the bed when they had the chance to be a spoiler against Toronto when they were starting their backup quarterback. Finished 2 and 16, even with Henry Burris. This was a season that Big Ears Teddy really didn't need to see. They will be better next year, although even if they improve by three games over last year, that's still a 5 and 13 record.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Photo from the Upper West Stands Montreal at Hamilton 2014

Here's a photo I took from the upper part of the West stands that just opened for the final regular season game. 

Unlike the stands on the other side, there is a railing between each row as this side is quite steep. 

The washroom nearest to where the photo was taken only had five urinals. 

Ticats Eric Norwood Tied For Second in 2014 CFL Sacks, Laurent and Reed Second and Third on the Team

One story of this Ticats regular season that hasn't received a lot of mention was how many sacks the Ticats Eric Norwood got in 2014. After Saturday's game, Norwood ended up with 13 sacks, tied for second with the Stampeders' Shawn Lemon (hopefully not related to Cleo) and Edmonton's Odell Willis. The Riders' John Chick has the most at fifteen.

Norwood didn't even play every game (and not due to injury). Norwood is a second year player out of South Carolina. He had four sacks in 2013. One has to think he has an East all-star shot, since he led the East in sacks.

Non-import Ted Laurent tied for 12th in the CFL with nine sacks, which is quite good for an interior lineman. Rookie linebacker Taylor Reed had 8 sacks, which is also good for a linebacker in the CFL.I don't think Reed played every game either.

It was also a season of two halves in terms of sacks for the Cats. The first half of the season, the Cats were bottom dwellers in total sacks in the league, but ended up respectable by the end.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Receiving Leaders Week 19 2014, Luke Tasker 1000 Yards Possible?

Here's the Ticats receiving yards leaders after week 19 (catches yards):

Tasker 67 876
Fantuz 62 639
Grant 55 563
Madu 44 512
Giguere 37 500
Banks 37 464
Ellingson 32 429

Tasker needs only 124 yards to reach 1000 yards. He has caught more than that in a single game, so it definitely is possible, although not probable. It is more likely if Andy Fantuz is still injured and can't play in this week's game against Montreal. Fantuz likely would have made 1000 yards if he hadn't been injured for so many games this year.

Madu has a lot of yards for a running back, especially considering he hasn't played in all the games. He certainly doesn't have a lot of yards rushing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2014 Canadian MLS Team Total Salaries Compared to CFL Salaries, Toronto FC Way on Top

Roger Pielke Jr has an excellent article looking at MLS team total salaries.

Probably the most interesting thing, especially if you're Canadian, is that Toronto FC's total salary is way higher than any other MLS team at $16.7 million (all figures in US dollars), with the next team, LA Galaxy at $13.2 million. Whether the $16.7 million for TFC includes transfer fees (which were enormous this year to land Jermaine Dafoe) seems unlikely. Obviously we know now that Toronto FC still managed to miss the playoffs, even with this massive expenditure relative to other teams.

I'm not a soccer guy at all, but I did predict spending a lot of money to bring in a crotchety striker like Dafoe wasn't a good idea, and what was hyped with endless ads as a "Bloody Big Deal" has basically turned out to be a debacle.

TFC's salary bill is also way more than the other two Canadian teams. The Montreal Impact's salary bill was $6.6 million, while the Vancouver Whitecaps was only $5.2 million. Amusingly, only the Whitecaps made the playoffs.

Note that all three MLS Canadian teams had salaries above the salary cap in the CFL this year, which was $5 million Canadian. Which is only around $4.4 million now in US dollar terms.

Obviously TFC had to lose money this year, the only question is how much.

Calgary Herald Article on the CFL's Head Statistician, Steve Daniel

The Calgary Herald has a good interview with the CFL's head statistician, Steve Daniel. Well worth a read.

One interesting tidbit from the article:

"After 73 games this season, for example, CFL teams had used a total of 566 players, with an average age of 27.41."

Since there's nine teams, that's an average of 62.3 players per team. I would be curious to see the stats for each team this year. I remember that last year the Cats used a ridiculous number of players due to injury, although somewhat counter-intuitively Hamilton made it to the Grey Cup.

One stat I've been wondering about is pass knockdowns. Does the CFL track it? In some ways it isn't as good as a sack since no yards are lost, however with the recent trend of sacks being nullified by roughing the passer calls, a pass knockdown never really has this danger. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ticats Owner Bob Young Fined $10K For Criticizing CFL Officiating

The Scratching Post is reporting that the league has fined Bob Young ten large for criticizing a particular offside call in last week's Hamilton Toronto game at Dead Ted's Dome:

At issue is a fourth quarter offside call against the Ticats which gave Toronto a second chance after Hamilton stopped them on third-and-short near the Ticat goal line. But Hamilton was flagged for offside and the Argos used their second chance to score the winning points in a 26-24 victory.

“The biggest 'controversy' is not so much the call itself, but is the Toronto GM coaching the sideline judge during the play. The result was the official called a very marginal penalty,” Young wrote. “At the very least there should have been two penalties. The other for objectionable conduct to Toronto for their GM's blatant and successful attempt to influence an official on the field.”

I remember some calls against the Cats in that quarter, but I'm not sure exactly which one this referred to. I do remember Plesius being called for offside, but I'm thought that one wasn't on third down. Certainly was an important call in determining how the game turned out. Also pretty weird that Barker was down there right on the sideline.

A Look at the Last Hamilton at Toronto Game's Statistics

Here's a look at the stats from the Ticats 26 to 24 loss in Toronto.

Certainly one aspect of the game was how poor the Ticats, especially the offense played in the first quarter. Toronto outscored the Ticats 15 to 0, although it could have been worse as the Ticats defence
managed to hold the Argos from scoring multiple TDs.

Zach Collaros ended up having a statistically good game with 335 yards passing from 24 completions out of 36 attempts. Collaros had 3 passing TDs versus one interception. Curiously Collaros had no rushing attempts at all. Which to me seems a bit problematic, as a few runs by Collaros
would mix it up a bit for the Argos defence.

The Ticats had basically no rushing overall, with former Bomber Nick Grigsby rushing six times for six yards. Curiously Grigsby who had a lot of catches as a Bomber had none in this game, although obviously he just showed up in Hamilton. Madu had three rushes for six years returning for injury. Madu also had five catches 39 yards.

One issue for the Cats in this game was no Andy Fantuz, which I think was part of the woes the Ticats offense had in the first quarter. Fantuz is good at getting open and that option wasn't there and Collaros seemed to have trouble in the first quarter. There was again no Greg Ellingson either in this game.

Luke Tasker emerged as the primary receiver with nine catches and 138 yards. Giguere had a decent game with the three catches for 66 yards taking over at slotback for Fantuz. Banks and
Sinkfield had three catches each. Bakari Grant only had one catch for three yards which seems odd. Former Hamilton Hurricane Coates who has had a few catches over the past few games had no catches but started at Giguere's usual wide receiver spot most likely due to ratio issues.

Defensively only Reed from the middle linebacker spot was credited  with a sack while also having a forced fumble. Lawrence had two forced fumbles and Justin Hickman had one, while Rico Murray
had the interception. I remember Hall and Hickman having both a pass knockdowns although I can't verify it online (which is sad because while not being as good as a sack, for a defence a pass knockdown is an excellent result).

One statistical difference of note between the Argos and Ticats that  I think was important was the difference in punting average between Medlock and Swayze "Don't Call Me Patrick" Waters.

In perfect conditions inside Dead Ted's Dome, Medlock had a  42.9 yard average with 50 as his longest punt whereas Waters averaged a massive 51.8 yards. There was several times in the game where it looked like the Ticats would going to get good field position after forcing the Argos to punt and Waters ended up booming one and the Cats ended up with mediocre field position. Medlock's
kicking has been excellent, however his punting left something to be desired in comparison to Water's punting in this game.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

John Tory Wins Toronto Mayoralty, Good for the Argonauts?

So Tory has defeated Doug Ford, but a not particularly remarkable 6% and is now the mayor of Toronto. Of course of interest to CFL fans is the fact that Tory was also a former commissioner of the CFL in the 90s, including during some pretty dark days for the league.

Obviously with Toronto the current problem franchise for the CFL and owner David Braley being somewhat of a lame duck owner, having a former CFL commissioner as the mayor has to help. The biggest roadblock currently for the Argos is finding a way to play at TFC's BMO field and that involves dealing with Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, the owner of the Leafs, Raptors and TFC.

Rob Ford certainly liked the Argos, however he was also a pretty big fan of bringing the NFL to Toronto (which somewhat like Quebec separatism seems to be on life support with the Bills having new owners). Somehow I don't think Tory will be leading a renewed NFL to Toronto charge (although there are rumours of the St Louis Rams leaving albeit back to LA not Toronto).

Hopefully Tory can find a way to facilitate a move of the Argos to BMO Field, while not totally screwing the Argos out of revenue from game day concessions and the like. The renewal of sponsorship for the facility is coming up and one would have to think that having the Argos at the stadium would be valuable for whoever the new sponsor is.

Certainly part of the value of the sponsorship for BMO is the fact it is right on the Gardner and a lot of drivers go by it everyday (part of the rationale of the Tiger-Cats having a stadium at Confederation Park besides the QEW and also why the Ticats want a city approved sign by the QEW (which the Ontario Ministry of Transportation doesn't want)). However the Argos draw considerably more viewers on television than TFC (whose viewership frankly is pathetic) across the country which would be valuable to a company like BMO which is national. The Argos should get some of this additional value, although I'm sure MLSE doesn't think the same (the Tim Horton's Field naming rights are rumoured to between $1 and $1.5 million)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ticats Lose to Argos and Lose 2014 Harold Ballard Cup

The Ticats lost to the Argos after being ahead late (and being behind early), losing the season series to the Argos and probably more importantly the playoff tie breaker with the Argos. The Cats looked weak early, with almost no yards gained in the first quarter, although the defence mostly held. Missing Andy Fantuz seemed to hurt Collaros in the first quarter.

I'll take a bigger look at the stats tomorrow, but this game was certainly disappointing. The Cats pretty much have to win against Ottawa and Montreal to guarantee a playoff spot in their last two games.

Not as big a deal, but the Tiger-Cats also lost the Harold Ballard Cup after winning it last year., named after the deceased former Ticat and Maple-Leafs owner. The Argos did have the advantage in having two of the three games at home (although for both games there was a large contingent of Ticats fans.

Luke Tasker played a great game in Andy Fantuz's absence. The Cats have also been missing Greg Ellingson at receiver at help which also hurts.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Go for 2014 Harold Ballard Cup and Playoff Spot

The Tiger-Cats are going for their second consecutive Harold Ballard Cup (presented to the season series winner between the Ticats and the Argonauts) in Toronto this afternoon. Both teams have won a single game and both games were by a single point. If this game ends in a tie, what's the tie breaker?  The Cats won the 2013 Harold Ballard Cup.

Ticat notable injuries are Andy Fantuz (that's not good), Cary Koch (meh), Marcellus Bowman (not great), Ted Laurent (very bad), Ellingson yet again (not great). Not having Bulcke and Laurent kind of screws with the Ticats ratio plans of having two defensive line starters and they'll have to cope with none. Playing three Americans on the offensive line, somewhat constrains them, although at least they have two other defensive Canadian starters. Not have Fantuz obviously hurts with ratio as well.

At least the Cats have Madu back at running back.

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 18

Montreal at Ottawa
An obviously important game for Montreal. An emotional game overall considering the week's past events in Ottawa. I expect the REDBLACKS to actually play a better game because of the events. However Montreal's defence is just too strong.
Alouetttes 24 REDBLACKS 20

Saskatchewan at Calgary
I'm assuming that the Riders are going with Kerry Joseph again at quarterback, but I don't think it will matter much even with Jon Cornish skipping the game. However Calgary doesn't really need to care much anymore the rest of the regular season. I still think Calgary wins though.
Stampeders 33 Roughriders 25

Hamilton at Toronto
This game is interesting. Toronto didn't look good last week, while Hamilton only looked OK at home versus Ottawa. Hamilton will likely have enough fans for it to be close to a neutral site game. I think Toronto just doesn't have the horses late in the season though.
Tiger-Cats 25 Argonauts 23

BC at Winnipeg
I'm assuming that with all the Bomber quarterback injuries this game isn't going to be easy even if Winnipeg is at home. The Lions haven't impressed me lately, but Glenn has had a lot of time as the quarterback, so they have the advantage.
Lions 28 Bombers 24

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 17

1. Calgary Stampeders
Calgary just keeps winning and Bo Levi Mitchell is back. No doubt after clinching the top seed in the West and the bye, the Stamps will let up some. They will still be the best team though.
2. Edmonton Eskimos
It was close versus the Riders and they were down at the half, but ultimately the Eskimos prevailed. 
3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Sure it was against the REDBLACKS and they only won by ten, but it was a really windy game and the Cats mostly outplayed the REDBLACKS. Injuries are becoming a little concerning for the Ticats especially at running back, although surprisingly Sinkfield and Carter had well over 100 yards rushing between them.
4. Montreal Alouettes
This was a really important game for the Alouettes and they came in to Dead Ted's Dome (may he burn in the fires of expensive mobile bills) and beat the Argos, mostly with good defence, although Crompton's completion percentage was an excellent 70% (although his yards per pass attempt honked at 7.4 yards, indoors).
5. Toronto Argonauts
Ricky Ray didn't look very good in this game and it was at home. The Argos defence was OK, but ultimately failed to stop Crompton when they had to. The Argos pretty much have to win this week against Hamilton, or they are screwed out of a playoff spot.
6. BC Lions
Didn't play so there's not a lot to evaluate them with. Apart from blasting Ottawa, haven't looked good of late. 7. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders were ultimately better with Kerry Joseph as quarterback as opposed to Sunseri or Doege. However they're not good enough at this point in the season, despite probably having the best team besides the quarterback position.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
At least the Bomber didn't get blown out at home. Is former high school wunderkind Brohm out for the season after playing an OK game? Looks like the Bombers will not be in the playoffs again.
Only allowed the Cats to score 16 points at home, albeit on a windy night. On the other hand the REDBLACKS only scored six themselves and didn't look at all dangerous on offense. Maybe it is time for the REDBLACKS to look at some other quarterbacks. Henry Burris is a known quantity. Maybe some kid has some talent.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Toronto Star Article on John Tory and the CFL

The Toronto Star has a good article about Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory and his time as CFL commissioner.

I have to think with Tory likely to win an election (for once) that has to be good news for the Argos trying to make a deal to move into BMO field.

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 17

Ottawa at Hamilton
Could Hamilton shit the bed here? Sure. I would expect though that after losing a heart breaker against the Argos in Dead Ted's Dome the Ticats will be itching to lay a beating. One issue, no Madu this week or Gable so there will be a new running back. Of late, the Ticats have really relied on the running back catching passes, especially if Collaros is in trouble. Madu had good hands, but wasn't a particularly great runner, so expect maybe a bit more running from Hamilton.
Tiger-Cats 33 REDBLACKS 22

Montreal at Toronto
Interesting game not just because the game means a lot in the standings, but also that the teams are somewhat close. Montreal has somewhat inexplicably won five of six. Crompton has emerged as a reasonable starter and far better than his predecessors (including the now departed Troy Smith). However Ricky Ray is still a far better quarterback at this stage and has Chad Owens. Montreal has a good defence, but the Argos have home field advantage.
Argonauts 29 Alouettes 24

Calgary at Winnipeg
Winnipeg is in free fall, sucking and releasing running backs. Bo Levi Mitchell is back and the Stamps can clinch first in the West. This does not go well for Winnipeg. Expect Mike O'Shea to do a slow burn on the sidelines.
Stampeders 41 Blue  Bombers 29

Edmonton at Saskatchewan
So rumours are that Kerry Joseph starts for the Riders. A desperate move but somewhat understandable. Still Edmonton looked good last week and if the Riders try and run a ton (which is pretty likely) the Eskimo defensive line is going to have a good day.
Eskimos 33 Roughriders 19

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Montreal Alouettes Release Troy Smith

Well that took forever. The Alouettes have finally released former NFL and Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith after basically sucking all year and being supplanted by Crompton as the Als quarterback.

Smith had a 52.6% completion percentage in 2013 and then an even lower Michael Bishop like number of 47.7% this year. I'm a little surprised that Smith was kept around for so long, considering he was probably getting a reasonable salary.

Smith seemed like one of those dubious CFL experiments where someone washed up in the NFL gets heralded upon arriving in the CFL. Like Chad Johnson. Who I also wonder about.

CFL Week 16 Television Ratings

Chris Zelkowich has the Canadian weekend sports television ratings out for last weekend here.

The CFL had a decent weekend, placing fifth, sixth, seventh and thirteenth with considerable hockey and NFL competition. Both the NFL and NHL benefits from being broadcast over the air versus CFL viewers only able to view if they have cable and TSN.

5. CFL, Bombers at Eskimos, Monday, TSN: 843,000
6. CFL, Roughriders at Alouettes, Monday, TSN: 782,000
7. CFL, Ticats at Argonauts, Friday, TSN: 636,000
13. CFL, RedBlacks at Lions, Saturday, TSN: 424,000

It is a little disappointing that the Ticats and Argos didn't draw better considering the ending, but I noticed while attending the game that some Argos fans left early so maybe some viewers did too, as it looked dire for the Argos for a while.

The BC Ottawa game was a little disappointing, although with Ottawa way out of the playoffs and the game a blowout, not particularly surprising. Zelkovich does point out that the Senators didn't draw a lot of fans:

"But Ottawa-Tampa Bay on Sportsnet One attracted only 112,000 and the Washington-Boston game on FX was watched by a paltry 15,000. Even Toronto FC outdid that (55,000 on TSN.)"

TFC has continued their week ratings. How MLSE expects to make a profit on the team with massive transfer signing bills and no television revenues is a mystery.

The Bombers and Eskimos managed the highest CFL ratings on Thanksgiving even though it was blowout.

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 16

1. Calgary Stampeders
Didn't play last week so they couldn't embarrass themselves out of the top rank. Also a week off probably helps them out a lot with Cornish and Mitchell. Besides the Stamps have pretty much locked up the top seed in the West so I'm not sure about them doing their best best in the regular season from now on.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Absolutely hammered Winnipeg. Which isn't saying much. Still they've got Reilly healthy and a good defence.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats lost a heart breaker to the Argos in Dead Ted's Dome by a single point after being way up. Still only losing by a point away is pretty much a victory on neutral ground in my book. Collaros is looking good and the defence now seems capable of sacking the opposing quarterback. Apart from shitting the bed in the last five minutes of the last game.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Ricky Ray is a good quarterback, you can't deny that. After playing mostly mediocre football last game, Ray and the Argos were able to turn it on late. Not much of a run game, but the team is certainly better when Chad Owens is playing.

5. BC Lions
Absolutely hammered the REDBLACKS at home. That's something I guess. Not having Andrew Harris didn't seem to hurt, although Antolin rushing for 157 yards on 17 carries is an adequate replacement. A little hard to judge the Lions against such a crappy team.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes also hammered a team, namely the Riders. However the Riders were afraid to pass and were on the road, which generally isn't a good combo. Crompton has emerged as an OK CFL quarterback and the Alouettes decent is serviceable. Meh.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Yes the Bombers sucked against Edmonton on the road. However the Eskimos are a good team and Willy is better at quarterback than whatever the Riders have. Still it is interesting to see the Bombers collapse after such a good start and will pretty much miss the playoffs. There's always next year, which is pretty much the Bomber fan mantra considering how long it has been since they've won the cup.

8. Saskatchewan Roughriders
I would say that Sunseri sucks at quarterback, but in the last game against the Alouettes he only had 13 attempts with eight completions so it is a little hard to judge. But overall from his oeuvre of play this year Sunseri sucks. So much so that the Riders have went out and signed crotchety quarterback Kerry Joseph. Who will probably be an improvement over Sunseri and Doege, but the team will still be crap. And will still make the playoffs with a 9 and 6 record.

Oh Ottawa. Hopefully next year goes better.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Upper West Stands Won't Be Ready for the October 17th Game Against Ottawa

Forgot to mention that the Ticats have told season ticket holders that the Upper West stands won't be ready for the next game against the REDBLACKS. The last game of the season is November 8th against Montreal, so there has to be a good chance they will ready for that game. Although considering the history, one might bet against it.

If the Cats hold a playoff game, there's one more chance as well. If the Cats don't host a playoff game, there's a chance the stadium won't be finished for a home game at all in 2014.

Thoughts on the Ticats Loss in Toronto, Harold Ballard Cup All Tied Up

I attended the Ticats game at the Rogers Centre on Friday against the Argos, which the Ticats ended up blowing a big lead and losing 34 to 33. Being in the stadium was fun as a Ticat fan for majority of the game until the Argos managed to win with two late TDs. My section was mostly an Argo one, although there were plenty of Ticat fans overall and certainly by sound, Ticats plays were cheered loudly (my guess is that the average Ticat fan was at least thrice as loud as the average Argo fan).

The Argos outscored the Ticats 21 to 3 in the final quarter versus the Cats outscoring the Argos 30 to 13 through the first three quarters. Did the Argos make the biggest comeback in the CFL this year? One related point I've made about the Ticats is that the truly good teams in the CFL step on the throats of an opposing team when they get ahead and keep scoring points to absolutely guarantee victory. The Cats were almost there this game, but basically needed another field goal.

The Tiger-Cats did actually have a good chance to win at the end of the game when Sinkfield managed to return the Argos kickoff after the go ahead TD to the Ticats' 51 yard line with around a minute left (Sinkfield actually had a fabulous game returning kickoffs and punts). With the game indoors and having Medlock, that wouldn't have required many yards for a field goal. But the Ticats managed to totally screw up that possession, ending it with a bad snap on a long third down.

Stats wise, Collaros had a pretty good game, going 23 for 32 for 302 yards with two TDs throwing and no picks. Collaros also had seven runs for 65 yards and at TD which is impressive.

Madu had a great day catching the ball with 87 yards on six catches, but only 14 yards on three runs. The Cats don't use the running back to run much, but do use the position as almost the primary receiver. Fantuz had a good day with seven catches for 77 yards and a TD and Tasker had three catches for 71 yards and a TD. Tasker has emerged as the best import receiver.

One interesting reception, Matt Coates caught a single pass for fifteen yards. Who's Matt Coates? I had to look him up. He's a rookie non-import (23 years old, 6'3" 197 lbs.) who came from the Hamilton Hurricanes rather than the CIS or NCAA. I assume he was on the roster for special teams, but another no-import receiver making a catch besides Giguere and Fantuz is always news.

The Cats defence also had a good game until the fourth quarter. Lineback Taylor Reed led with seven tackles. Norwood is also having a great year a defensive end, with six tackles and three sacks, putting him at 11 sacks on the year. Hickman had a tackle. Non-import defensive tackle Ted Laurent had a sack, putting him at seven sacks, which is good for an interior defensive lineman.

Ricky Ray didn't look good for the first three quarters, but ended up with good stats, with 34 completions on a massive 48 attempts for 431 yards, three TDs and a pick. Ray has to be coming close to being a lock for the eastern nominee for most outstanding player, which he won last year (but not the overall award).

Chiles had a great day, with eight receptions for 123 yards. Chad Owens also had a great day with 109 yards from six catches and the game winning TD.

One last thing, the Harold Ballard trophy race (presented to which ever team wins the season series between Toronto and Hamilton) is tied, with each team having a win apiece and the total points scored also tied. If the Cats and Argos tie their next game, I'm not sure what the tie breaker is.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Picture of Rogers Centre Before the Ticats Versus Argos

2014 CFL Predictions Week 16

Hamilton at Toronto
No doubt both teams are hot. Ricky Ray has been his usual consistent self while Zach Collaros has been on fire. Last week the Cats had a decent offensive output but had problems with scoring a TD. The weather in the dome will be perfect so that should help both offences. I expect a lot of Ticat fans so I'm not willing to give the full home field advantage to the Argos. Therefore I'll go with the Cats D. 
Ticats 39 Argos 37

Ottawa at BC
Yes the REDBLACKS did win last week. BC lost but on the road and it was close. BC Place has been a traditional graveyard of Eastern teams. Ottawa looked good last week but I think that was just a flukey win. Still I don't think Ottawa gets totally blown out. 
Lions 31 REDBLACKS 29

Saskatchewan at Montreal
This one is a bit of a conundrum. The Riders have been crap without Durant at quarterback. Crompton has been better than the other Alouettes quarterbacks although he's still green. Montreal's defence is decent but so is Saskatchewan's. Montreal is at home and I think a bit more desperate for a playoff spot with the crossover looming
Alouettes 30 Roighriders 25

Winnipeg at Edmonton
Neither team has looked good of late although Winnipeg has looked worse, losing to Ottawa. The Blue Bombers started on fire but have regressed back towards the crap of last season. The Bomber had Willy in Ottawa and they still lost relatively big. Edmonton is at home and is just a better team
Eskimos 40 Blue Bombers 32

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 15

1. Calgary Stampeders
Calgary really seems to have Saskatchewan's number this year, which must really
drive Riders fans insane. Still in a year that seems to be filled with
mediocrity, the Stamps keep winning even with Drew "Dark Visor" Tate as the
quarterback. Bo Levi Mitchell is probably getting somewhat closer to returning
which would further improve Calgary.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
No team has been as hot as late as Hamilton, with the Ticats winning four out
of five games and a gritty game on Saturday where they managed to beat the
Lions without any TDs. The Ticats defence has suddenly become an outfit that
is arguably the best in the CFL. Zach Collaros continues to look strong as
quarterback, especially impressing when he rolls out. One problem the Cats
now seem to have is an inability to gain a yard on a quarterback sneak. It
came close to hurting them against the Lions and has hurt they earlier in the

3. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos did lose the Argos, but it was by a single point and the Argos were
at home. What does that matter? By my reckoning, for power rankings purposes
the home team has to win by three points to be a true win (my power rankings
assume a neutral venue between two teams). The Eskimos weren't able to run
basically at all, but they did manage to keep it close.

4. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos did look impressive at times against the Eskimos and with slotback
and Hawaiian Chad Owens seemingly back healthy, that's a potent quarterback
receiver combination. As had been the case the past few years (really going
back to the Rich Stubler era) the Toronto Argonauts defence has been
impressive. Toronto is basically a pretty decent team and this year in
the CFL between starters being injured and other starters just being
mediocre, Ricky Ray looks pretty good.

5. BC Lions
Sure they lost, but they were on the road and they still kept it close in Hamilton. Not having Andrew Harris definitely hurts. Kevin Glenn hit some long strikes but was mostly stymied. That's good enough in the CFL for fifth in the power rankings this year.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Bye week! At least the Alouettes have a good defence and Crompton seems to not totally suck like the other Montreal quarterbacks this year. And they're rested.
7. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Sucked in the beginning against the Stamps with Doege in and inexplicably suddenly
became good when Sunseri came back and almost lead them to a big comeback. Then the
Riders sign Kerry Joseph. Doesn't show a lot of confidence in their quarterbacks with Durant injured and until the Riders manage to win a full game without Durant, I won't be impressed.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Losing to the REDBLACKS. That has to hurt as a Bomber fan (at least it wasn't
in the Peg). What about Willy? He was in for the entire game, but it didn't seem to matter.
Still the Bombers are in a bit of a dogfight with the Lions for a cross-over playoff spot. Only that doesn't seem to be as sure a lock as it was earlier in the season.

I'm tempted to move the REDBLACKS up from last place, but any team, even
an expansion one is going to have games where a lot of stuff breaks their
way leading to a sure victory. If the REDBLACKS were to win another game
in the next couple, I'll consider moving them up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saskatchewan Rough Riders to Sign Kerry Joseph?

Just saw on CHML's Ted Michael's Twitter feed that the Riders are resigning quarterback Kerry Joseph. Obviously the Riders are in a difficult place, with no Darian Durant, but an excellent team besides the quarterback. Sunseri has mostly looked terrible as has Doege. I'm not sure Kerry Joseph is the answer, considering he's 41.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Will Tim Horton's Field Be Ready for the October 17th Game Against Ottawa

I was by the stadium today and snapped this show of the West stands. The upper stands still aren't done, however they could be by the next home game against the REDBLACKS. There were around ten workers I saw around 4:10, which is interesting considering it is a Sunday.

Personally I would bet against them being open, as that's been the way to bet this year on the stadium.

BC at Hamilton Picture

A shot of Tim Horton's Field last night during the Cats win against the Lions. 

Mac Beats Western 32 to 29 In London

Besides the Ticats winning yesterday against the Lions in Hamilton, Mac remained undefeated beating Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario) 32 to 29. That they did it in London is even more impressive.

Since both were undefeated, make now has the advantage for hosting the Yates Cup final (assuming both teams make it that far) even if the Marauders end up with the same record as the Mustangs.

Of course at the end, either team will have to face Laval.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bay Observer Article On Hamilton Tiger-Cat Finances

The Bay Observer of all places (which sometimes seems like a Bob Bratina
mouthpiece) recently had an excellent article about the business side
of the Hamilton Ticats complete with numbers. Since Tigercatatonia has always been interested
in the business of the Ticats besides the football, it is worth going over
some of the numbers mentioned in the article.

Probably most interested to me was the claim by Ticat CEO about merchandise

"For merchandize we’ve gone from being the last team in the league were now close to a million and a half dollars a year"

The most recent numbers I've heard for Ticat merchandise sales were a million
dollars per year, so if the Cats are close to $1.5 million that's impressive,
especially considering the stadium delays have no doubt impacted
merchandise sales this year substantially. A figure of $1.5 million is also
impressive compared to other teams in the league. Obviously that figure
what be dwarfed by the Riders' number, but one would have to think that the
Ticats would be among the lead leaders. I'm not sure they would be above
Winnipeg or likely second place Edmonton, but they're probably within
striking distance. With a full year of the new stadium, one wonders if
$2 million in merchandise is possible in 2015 (or 2016 when the Ticats are
likely to host a Grey Cup).

I would also be curious to see where $1.5 million in merchandise places
the Tiger-Cats relative to other pro teams in Canada: the NHL teams,
the Toronto Blue Jays, the Toronto Raptors and especially the MLS teams
in Canada. Toronto FC when it started seemed to have excellent
nerchandise sales, but years of sucking and missing the playoffs seems
to have hurt their sales. Would the Ticats have bigger sales than
Toronto FC currently?

Mitchell also makes a statement in the article about corporate
sponsorships: "our corporate partnerships were the worst in the league and now we could be number two.”" Again the Riders are likely way out front, but
I seem to remember hearing that the Montreal Alouettes had great
corporate sponsorships, with the likes of CN as sponsors and Edmonton
and Calgary likely has extensive corporate sponsorship.

Another number Mitchell mentions in the article is the amount of money
an Eastern team requires in revenue to break even. I've heard $15
million bandied about for CFL operating expenses (with the salary
cap being around one third of that number), but in this article
Mitchell says it is $20 million.

Probably the most surprising item in the whole article is the news
that team would have turned a profit this year had it not
been for the stadium snafus, but will next year. That's certainly
good news for the Cats and impressive considering the revenue
needed to for that to happen.

One final number from the article:
"the fact that the tab that he has run up propping up the team is now at
$40 Million." So Tiger-Cats fans certainly have Bob Young to thank for the
team still being here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 14

Montreal at Ottawa
Will the REDBLACKS ever win again? If they are to win again this season, this game at home has to be one of the few possibilities. The REDBLACKS almost won against the Riders at home last week, but blew it in overtime. Montreal hasn't been a particularly good team all year, but are mildly improved with Crompton in at quarterback. The Alouettes defence is decent as it has been the last couple of years and the Larks still have some residual receiver talent. That said, Ottawa seems due and Henry Burris was good last week, with three passing TDs and a running TD (which may be more important). Close but finally Ottawa will double their win total.
REDBLACKS 27 Alouettes 25

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
Basically this comes down to Tino Sunseri versus Mike Reilly and it is in Edmonton (although no doubt there will be some vocal Rider fans in Commonwealth). I'll take Reilly and watch Riders fans be glum about losing Darian Durant for the season.

Hamilton at Winnipeg
Will Winnipeg have its Willy? That's what this game hinges on, whether the Bombers will have injured quarterback Drew Willy. Initial reports suggest Winnipeg will be Willyless for this game which makes a big difference. Hamilton and quarterback Zach Collaros have been playing well the past few games and the defence has looked tough too, basically stonewalling Mike Reilly last week at Ivor Wynne. Sure C.J Gable is injured for Hamilton, but Madu is a satisfactory replacement as long as he holds on to the ball. Look for Hamilton to get to five wins.
Tiger-Cats 34 Bombers 29

BC at Calgary
I haven't heard that Bo Levi Mitchell will be back, so Drew Tate and his stupid dark visor will be the quarterback for Calgary. No Lulay for BC, so Kevin Glenn continues to go for BC. I'm a little tempted to go with BC, but Calgary is at home and is the better team overall, even if Jon Cornish doesn't play this game. Calgary has just found ways to win all year.
Stampeders 41 Lions 37

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ticats Place C.J Gable on Six Game Injured List

Bad news for the Cats, as they are reporting on their website that C.J. Gable has gone on the six game injured list. Gable injured his shoulder early in the last game against the Eskimos. The Cats have used Madu as their running back somewhat successfully during Gable's earlier absence, so the loss isn't devastating. Gable has always been intriguing in terms of his potential (and US college pedigree), but has never really shown true greatness.

Tigercatatonia has always said a credo is that US running back are a fungible commodity. Gable has never been quite great enough that he's much better than any other US running back in the league.

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 14

A week of upheaval as the West lost three games versus the East and won another in overtime against the lowly REDBLACKS. Remember also Tigercatatonia's philosophy on power rankings: it is what the teams would do this upcoming week (including injuries) not what they would do at the Grey Cup.

1. Calgary Stampeders
Losing to Montreal is somewhat ignoble for Calgary, however they don't have Bo Levi Mitchell so that hurts. Drew Tate is actually decent by CFL backup standards (as I long time Ticat fan, I can remember Billy "the Skid" Mitchell backing up Danny McManus), however Mitchell does seem superior. Calgary has a good overall team, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt this week.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Lost to the Ticats and actually didn't look particularly good apart from capitalizing on mistakes from the Ticats. Still they've got Mike Reilly back and seemingly healthy and that's a lot in the West with quarterbacks dropping like flies.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Crazy as it might seem, the Tiger-Cats are a decent team now. Collaros is pretty much the best quarterback playing right now (with Mitchell injured, Reilly being thoroughly outplayed last week and Ray not the Ray of a few years ago) and the Cats have deep receiving corps. The defence is also looking excellent, and although Bulcke is injured for the season on the defensive line, Justin Hickman is back to play defensive end.

4. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos manhandled the Lions on the road last week and almost beat Calgary the week before. Amongst CFL quarterbacks Ray is both decent and consistent. The Argos have also seemed to get past their receiver problems and their defence is OK. Scott Milanovich as head coach also means the offense should be good with the proper personnel.

5. BC Lions
Lulay is gone it seems for the year and the Lions will be going with Kevin Glenn. Who hasn't played particularly well since Lulay was reinjured, including a loss at home against the Argos. BC has also suffered some injuries that have hurt them besides Lulay. The Lions don't look to be competitive with the top Western teams.

6. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Sure the Riders were the only Western team to win last week, however it was in overtime versus the REDBLACKS. Durant is gone and the Riders have Sunseri as their man, who doesn't look particularly great. The Riders do have a good team besides their quarterback, so all isn't lost.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
This assumes the Bomber are at the moment Willyless, which they appear to be at this juncture. The Bombers are pretty much the worst of the Western teams even with Willy healthy having a 500 record. Without their Willy, the Bombers aren't a good team even compared to some Western teams. Maybe the Bombers can overcome not having a Willy as their pivot, but I'm skeptical.

8. Montreal Alouettes
They beat Calgary, but I'm not totally convinced at Crompton's abilities as a quarterback. Sure he's better than who the Alouettes had earlier (Troy Smith?), but that's not saying a lot. Still the Alouettes have a decent defence and have a shot at second in the East and making the playoffs.

Almost won and doubled their win total. But in the end they didn't. What can you say about this team? They're terrible, that's what you can say. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Brian Bulcke Being Out for the Season Really Hurts the Ticats

The news that Stanford grad Brian Bulcke is out for the season with a torn bicep muscle is terrible news for the Ticats. The non-import defensive lineman was part of a Ticat defense that had been unusually starting four Canadians (Laurent, Butler and Stephen) and part of a pair of starting Canadians in the interior of the defensive line, Ted Laurent being the other.

The only thing that ameliorates the situation somewhat is that the Cats recently signed their 2013 number one pick Lynden Gaydosh who happens to be a defensive tackle like Bulcke. With former Ticat defensive end Justin Hickman recently resigned by the Cats, the front four should be still fairly strong for the Cats and not cause too many ratio problems. Hopefully Gaydosh as a rookie can partially fill Bulcke's large shoes on the defensive line.

Will the Upper West Stands Be Ready for the October 4th Game Against the Lions? No.

I had been thinking about whether the Upper West stands (where my season tickets are) would be ready for the next home game against BC on October 4th. I was guessing no, as that seems to be the smart way to bet when it comes to the stadium. Sure enough I checked my email today and yesterday I received an email from the Ticats saying it wouldn't be ready (or at least not guaranteed) plus an offer for two more free tickets. So huzzah for free tickets and boo for not having the stadium done.

Will the stadium be complete for the end of the regular season? For a home playoff game? Who knows. I know which way I'm betting.

A Look At the Stats for the Eskimos at Ticats Game 2014

Here's some analysis of  the stats for the Eskimos at Tiger-Cats game on Sunday that ended up as a Ticat victory 25 to 23. The Cats came back from a 15-3 half-time deficit.

Collaros had a good day passing with a total of 318 yards from 25 passes on
35 attempts. That's a 71% pass completion percentage with a TD and a pick and continues his recent run of good games.

Collaros' play compared favourably with Mike Reilly who had 283 yards from 23 passes and
42 attempts for Edmonton. That's a mediocre 55% pass completion percentage which indicates either good pass defence from the Cats or Mike Reilly playing like Michael Bishop. Reilly had two TD passes compared to two picks.

Collaros spread it around to eight different receivers. The normally little used Brandon Banks had a great game with 111 yards with 6 passes and a TD. Fantuz had a typically Fantuzian day with 87 yards receiving from 5 passes. Tasker also had a good day with four catches for 53 yards. Collaros did fumble twice, losing one at the end of the first half that was taken in for a TD.

Non-import Nate Coehoorn had the best day receiving for the Eskimos with six passes for 87 yards.

The Cats had a pretty good day against the run. Thomas only ran four times for 36 yards. The Eskimos only ran nine times for 48 yards. That's an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

The Cats only rushed for slightly more yards, which wasn't surprising considering C.J. Gable was injured really early. The Cats had 56 yards rushing total on 15 carries for an average of only 4.3 yards per carry. Collaros had the most yards rushing for hte Cats with 8 rushes for 35 yards and at TD. The non-import Prime had 17 yards on five carries taking over rushing duties for Gable. Considering Gable being injured so early and the Cats not dressing another running back (i.e. no Madu) the Ticat offense did pretty well. In some ways it is surprising the Cats don't have a Canadian running back playing special teams who could fill in in case of a running back injury.

Eric Norwood, a defensive end for the Cats had a monster game with seven tackles and four sacks. That's now seven sacks for the year for him which I'm guessing leads the Cats. The Cats had five total sacks, improving on what had been a terrible year for sacks early. Combining Norwood with the returning Justin Hickman hopefully leads to a strong Ticat pass rush for the rest of the year.

The Eskimos also a big sack day with six with Willis having three. One could blame the line, however Collaros does like to hang onto the ball for the possibility of making a Doug Flutie backyard football type pass. Sometimes it works, sometimes there's a sack.

Medlock was three for three on field goals continuing his good season, while the Eskimos had none.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Masoli No Rushes Against the Riders

Previous to the game against the Riders I posted about Jeremiah Masoli's lack of success in short yardage situations as quarterback. In the Riders game, how many rushes did Masoli have? None.

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 13

Some changes in the power rankings this week. Also remember that Tigercatatonia's definition of power rankings is how you would do this coming week if your team was to play. Thus if your starting quarterback can't go. That's going to hurt.

1. Calgary Stampeders
So Bo Levi Mitchell is down but have no fear, Drew Tate is available. Plus they've got Jon Cornish, a good offensive line and a good defence (albeit with some injuries). Plus the West seems like there's a ton of quarterback injuries so being down to Tate isn't so bad.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Mike Reilly is back at quarterback (I think). Plus the Smos ended up beating Montreal quite handily last week. That's good enough for second overall in a weak CFL.

3. BC Lions
No Travis Lulay whose shoulder seems doomed, but who cares the Lions have Kevin Glenn. If Glenn goes down, the Lions are in trouble, but Glenn has proved historically durable. Apart from that time where he had to miss the Grey Cup.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Home town bias? Maybe. However Collaros is looking excellent and has been by far the best quarterback in the CFL over the past three games. Plus the defence is looking good and Justin Hickman is back (but not this week) at defensive end.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Having no Drew Willy is problematic for the Bombers who are in a bit of skid. I'm not even sure who the second string quarterback is, but I'm sure he's not any good.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders with Darian Durant were a good team. The Riders without Durant aren't a very good team as last week's debacle in Hamilton proved. I can't imagine the panic amongst the Regina faithful this week. Although they are playing the REDBLACKS which is fortuitous that's for sure.

7. Toronto Argonauts
They came close to beating the Stamps on the road but managed to blow it at the end. Seems like the story of the Argos season.

8. Montreal Alouettes
Didn't look awful against the Eskimos. That's something I guess.

Will they win another game? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Justin Hickman Back with the Cats?

The Scratching Post is reporting that former Ticat defensive end Justin Hickman has signed with the Cats after being released by the Colts.

Considering how few sacks the Cats have had this year (although they have picked it up lately including five last week against the Riders), signing Hickman is a good thing. Hickman had 13 sacks in 2011 for the Cats in his last season of CFL ball.

Hickman is now 29 which makes one wonder if he's past his prime. There have been numerous defensive ends that have had long careers (Elfrid Payton) so I don't think that's a particular concern for this season.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Masoli and the Short Yardage Unit

In last week's debacle against the Alouettes in Montreal a couple of plays stood out, namely Jeremiah Masoli's two attempted sneaks. Both required around a half yard each and in both not much was gained (2 rushes for Masoli for a yard). Now injured Dan LeFevour has been historically an excellent short yardage quarterback, but with him injured Masoli has stepped into the backup role to Collaros and also into the short yardage backup role.

Now Masoli isn't blameless for the poor sneaks as the line didn't give much when only a half yard was required. Considering there are three Americans playing on the line that seems somewhat strange.

As Ron Lancaster used to say, if you can't get a yard, you don't deserve to win. If you can't get a half yard that's even sadder. Hopefully the linemen and Masoli have worked on their sneaks all week. The Cats could need it.

Bo Levi Mitchell Injured?

Just watching the Stamps Argos game and Bo Levi Mitchell looks like he was hurt on a run by a hit by Shea Emry. Mitchell was down for a while and then tried to get up and went down again. The Stamps have Drew Tate in.

Saskatchewan Roughriders in Hamilton Lineup Preview

The Riders are coming in after back to back victories against the Blue Bombers and without starting quarterback Darian Durant who might be out for the season. The Cats lost in Montreal against the Alouettes last week.

The offensive line stays similar to previous game with the weird for the CFL formation of three American linemen. Olson and Figueroa are the import tackles and Simmons is the import guard. I'm a little surprised this far into the season the Cats haven't tried another Canadian at guard but apparently the team's depth is so bad they can only muster up two Canadian starters for the line. I guess they're waiting for Dyakowski. Filer is the centre and O'Neill the non-import guard.

Tasker and non-import Giguere are are the wide receivers. Grant and Fantuz are the import slotbacks and Fantuz is the other. Madu is again the running back and non-import Prime is the fullback. Collaros starts with Masoli and McGee the backups at quarterback.

Medlock kicks and punts as usual. What is different is Sinkfield in as kick and punt returner after mediocre efforts from Koch and Tasker against Montreal last week. No Koch at all this week as he is on the one game injured list (which doesn't mean a lot).

With five or six receivers there probably is four Canadian starters. With a fullback and four receivers I'm not sure as it could be five with the two linemen, Prime, Fantuz and Giguere.

On defence, Scott and Norwood are the import defensive ends. Scott hasn't played much this year as he only has three tackles this year but was listed as the starter last week. Last year he had 16 and a sack. Coleman started last week but was injured during the game is now on the six game list. Norwood has had 13 tackles in 2014 and two sacks.

As has been the case pretty much all this season, Bulcke and Laurent are the two non-import defensive tackle starters. New this week is 2013 first overall pick Linden Gaydosh in as a backup defensive tackle. That's a lot of Canadian depth at defensive tackle.

The linebackers are Lawrence, Reed and Harris. Big hitting Bowman is listed as a backup.

Again Breaux and non-import Stephen are the corners. Stewart is one halfback and Rico Murray is other moving from linebacker. tacking over from Davis. Non-import Butler is the safety.

That's four Canadian starters on defence this week, which as I have noted most weeks is a lot for a CFL team.

Globe and Mail Article on Tim Horton's Stadium Construction

The Globe and Mail has a good article on what caused delays with the new Tim Horton's Field. I found this interesting:

"However, under its lease with the Ticats, the city is also responsible for paying the team $3-million in compensation for the three missed home games."

What about the losses for playing in a stadium for three (hopefully) games in only a partially finished stadium? Certainly for the Labour Day game if the stadium had been done on time the Cats would have sold out.

There's going to be a lot of fallout from the stadium situation (i.e. lawsuits). Who knows what will happen, but we'll be hearing about the stadium for years to come.

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 12

Montreal at Edmonton
Edmonton has lost back to back games against Calgary, but the Alouettes aren't the Stamps. The Alouettes did manage to win at home last week with Crompton as their starting quarterback, but looked absolutely dreadful in the first half. Even if Reilly doesn't start for Edmonton, I would take Nicholls over Crompton especially at home.
Eskimos 41 Alouettes 25

Toronto at Calgary
One team only has one loss, is at home and the other team has no receivers (although I thought I heard something about Durie being back). So not really a hard call (East versus West this generally isn't a hard call in general).

Winnipeg at BC
So no more Lulay. Not that BC was any better with him last week compared to Glenn. This game is on the road for the Bombers who have lost two straight, albeit to the Riders. I'm going to go against the grain and pick the Bombers.
Bombers 29 Lions 21

Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Besides the quarterback position this week, the Riders have more talent than the Ticats (although for a two win team at this stage of the year, the Ticats' talent isn't that bad). However with no Durant, the Riders have to start some guy Tino Sunseri at pivot. The Riders now have Dressler back which would help, but not much with an inexperienced quarterback. The Cats start Collaros who has looked mostly good since returning for a concussion. The Riders have a great pass rush, but Collaros has looked relatively adept at picking up blitzes compared to most CFL quarterbacks who mostly just shit the bed whenever a blitz comes. The Cats are at home, but the difference in quarterbacks will be the game.
Tiger-Cats 24 Riders 22

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Picture of Pigskin Pete (Paul Weiler) Taken October 31, 2009

Third Pigskin Pete Paul Weiler Passes Away Yesterday

Tigercatatonia was sad to hear the news of the third Pigskin Pete, Paul Weiler passing away yesterday. Tigercatatonia was always a fan and also amazed at how long Paul held the position.

I once asked on an internet forum if any other team had someone like Pigskin. The answers seem to be no, just the typical mascots like Stripes (and that creepy spherical one the Cats have). Since the role dated from the 1920s Pigskin Pete was like a throwback to another time, although a throwback that survived because it was a good idea and associated with a good person.

Pigskin Pete is also a uniquely Hamilton story and icon. In an internet age where everything global seems local, someone like Pete is one of those hyperlocal things that still matter. We'll miss you Pete

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 11

I worked on this yesterday before the Darian Durant being out for the season broke and I subsequently updated it with that information.

1. Calgary Stampeders
Beat the Eskimos back to back and this time on the road. Their regular season record would suggest they are one of the CFL's best ever teams. I certainly don't disagree that they are right now the best team in the league, but they don't really seem to be an all time team (mainly because they don't seem to have a lot of blowouts).

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Last week's score was closer than how the Eskimos played. Not having Mike Reilly at quarterback definitely hurts, although Nicholls seems to be quite good by the standards of backups in the CFL. Is Reilly guaranteed back this week? Who knows. He could be back though, unlike Darian Durant.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Also won back to back against the same team and also this time on the road. The Riders looked mediocre at the beginning of the season, but have seemed to regain their form from winning the Grey Cup last year. Dressler is now back and their defensive front four is quite ferocious.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Close, but still a loss at home in the Banjo Bowl. Drew Willy is playing better than I thought he would have at the beginning of the season, although not fantastic. This will probably continue (unless he too gets injured). Considering the way quarterbacks are dropping like flies, Willy is pretty good.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Like Calgary also won back to back against the same team and also this time on the road. The Riders looked mediocre at the beginning of the season, but have seemed to regain their form from winning the Grey Cup last year. Dressler is now back and their defensive front four is quite ferocious. But today word came that Durant is probably gone for the season and some guy named Tino or something is the backup. That's not good. The Riders are talented enough at running back, offensive line and on defence to not totally fall off the wagon, but there definitely will be problems with no Durant.

5. BC Lions
How long is Lulay gone for now? Is this addition by subtraction considering Lulay didn't look particularly good against the expansion REDBLACKS? At least they have Glenn as backup. If they didn't this season would be quite different.

6. Toronto Argonauts
Didn't play so they didn't lose. They didn't look great the previous week against Hamilton, but they did lose on the road by only a point which is actually pretty good this low on the power rankings. I'm assuming a week's rest really helps the Argos. Not as much as actually getting into BMO field, but somewhat.

7. Montreal Alouettes
The Als won, despite looking dreadful in the first half against the Ticats. One thing the Alouettes did have was good special teams throughout the game. Crompton looked improved in the second half as a quarterback and Duron Carter and Chad Johnson actually looked good as receivers. Montreal's defence also looked good in the second half.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
After the first half, the Ticats looked like they were going to go up in the power rankings. The offense until Collaros was kicking ass and the defence was looking good. Then they fell apart somehow in the second half to a not particularly great Montreal team. What can you say about this team? Their talent is good, but they can't seem to find a way to win. They also need to learn to step on other teams' throats.

Well they came come close to beating BC. They've got a reasonable defence. Unfortunately their offense can never seem to get it done. Maybe they can upgrade their imports with NFL cuts. 

Darian Durant Out For Season, Conveniently For Tiger-Cats

Sportsnet's Arash Madani just reported on his Twitter feed @arashmadani: "BREAKING: The announce QB Darian Durant suffered a torn tendon in his right elbow that will require surgery. Season likely over."

That's obviously not good for the Riders, but good for the Ticats who are playing Regina at home on Sunday. Apparently the Rider backup is some guy named Tino. The Cats have managed to screw up a lot of games they had a chance to win this year (like last week against Montreal). Let's hope they don't look this gift horse in the mouth and step on their throats.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ticats at Alouettes at Half-Time

The Tiger-Cats have looked excellent ahead 21 to 7 against Montreal, although the Als are lucky to only be behind by two TDs. Good that the Cats were able to come back after giving up an early TD on offense.

Madu has looked good catching the ball from the running back position (maybe even better than Gable) and Collaros has spread the ball around passing for 226 yards. The defence has looked great although I'm not sure how much that's a function of a bad Montreal offense with Crompton on his second CFL start as quarterback. It's hard to tell how good the Ticat defense is against East teams.

Rico Murray had a pick six and is having a great season at linebacker.

Former NFL star Chad Johnson caught a pass at least for the Larks. Johnson's been quite underwhelming this year. I think that whenever a team signs some crotchety former NFL star, you know that season isn't going to be good for that team.

The Ticats Letting Burris Go Was the Right Decision

I watched parts of the BC at Ottawa game on Friday (which apparently was the lowest scoring game since 1979). Burris didn't look particularly good although maybe that's partly due to his crappy receiving corps.

The Cats had to make a decision to sign Collaros and part ways with Burris. Considering how both Ottawa and Burris have done this year (still just one win) I think the Cats made the right decision. Even if they had one more kick at the can this year with Burris they would have had to figure out what to do next year. After last week seeing Collaros in action, the Cats should have good quarterbacking next year barring injury. 

Ticat Game Day Lineup, in Alouettes

Here's a look at who's starting for the Cats this week in Montreal for a game with playoff implications.

The offensive line stays with three Americans, Olson and Figueroa as the tackles and former tackle Simmons as a guard. O'Neill is the other guard along with Filer as the centre. Is Dyakowski coming back this season to take over for Simmons?

The receivers are Tasker an import and Giguere. Slots are Grant, Fantuz (obviously a Canadian) and Ellingson. Quarterback is Collaros with Masoli backing up. Hopefully Masoli has been working on his sneaks after last week's goal line debacle. Madu is back as running back with Gable out. Prime is the fullback.

Tasker leads the Cats in receiving with 308 yards, way down the list of the league leaders. Grant is next with 254 yards.

As usual Medlock punts and kicks (and is an import).

On defence, Scott and Coleman are the defensive ends. As usual non-imports Bulcke and Laurent are the defensive tackles. No Linden Gaydosh yet apparently in the lineup.

The linebackers are Lawrence, Reed and Murray. Bowman is a least listed as a backup.

The corners are Breaux and the non-import Stephen. The halfbacks are Stewart and Davis, with the non-import Butler in his usual spot as safety.

On offense the Cats look like they're starting four Canadians (five if Prime is in at fullback and Fantuz and Giguere stay in, although maybe only Fantuz stays in in that case).

On defence there's four so the Cats are basically over by one.

Friday, September 5, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week

BC at Ottawa
Uh Lions? Ottawa has disappointed me. I knew they would be bad, but not this bad.  They're at home, but it won't matter.
Lions 30 REDBLACKS 12

Calgary at Edmonton
Last I heard Edmonton's Reilly won't be good at quarterback. Nicholls the backup isn't bad, but not Reilly good. Plus Cornish is back for Calgary and looking good.
Stampeders 39 Eskimos 31

Hamilton at Montreal
Crompton looked decent for Montreal last week, but Collaros looked way better for Hamilton in his return. Hamilton's defence also looked dominant against Ricky Ray and Crompton is no Ricky Ray.
Ticats 28 Alouettes 26

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
I'm going to go with the Bombers at home. It was a close game between these two last week in Regina and I think the Bombers will be fired up.
Bombers 28 Riders 27

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ticats Upper West Stands Won't Be Ready for Next Two Home Games

Just heard that the unfinished upper West stands at Tim Horton's Field won't be ready for the next home game against Saskatchewan or the one the next week.

Edmonton Sun Article on Signature Jersey Sales

Tigercatatonia loves to cover the business aspect of the CFL, especially merchandise sales.

The Edmonton Sun has a decent article about the new signature jerseys driving merchandise sales Unsurprisingly, it will probably be mostly in Saskatchewan.

Last year the Riders did a record $13 million in business.

“That’s just from the four stores we operate — $13 million,” said Mark Habicht, the director of retail operations.

For the last decade they’ve had 50%-70% of the league merchandise sales.
“We’ve pushed as high as 70% but usually we’re in the 50% to 60% range,” he said.

Edmonton sells a lot less merch than the Riders:

The Eskimos are a long way back of Saskatchewan’s $13 million in merchandise last year.

“We came in just under a million,” said Rhodes.

The Eskimos ordered significantly less stock than Saskatchewan — only 800 jerseys in all. The team has averaged about 4,000 jersey sales a year recently.

Interestingly the Ticats have reported a million dollars in merchandise sales in previous years so Hamilton must be close to Edmonton. Of course the Ticats under Bob Young have been pretty good at offering a good selection of merchandise.

What's a little sad is that the stadium problems have no doubt really hurt merchandise sales for the Ticats. If everything went as planned this year (and the team was better) the Cats would have had an awesome year for merchandise sales.

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 10

1. Calgary Stampeders
Can't argue with 8 and 1 and defeating their hated provincial rival with a good record. Cornish is back too and effective.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Beat Winnipeg at home, have Dressler back and as far as I know Durant doesn't have any health issues.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
Still have an 8 and 2 record, but quarterback Mike Reilly's health seems shaky of late. Don't mind the backup, but Reilly has had a good year.

4. BC Lions
Left out of the Labour Day weekend games. Lions are looking like a decent team this year even without Lulay and a week's rest never hurts.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Only lost by five points to their prairie rivals in Regina. The Bombers are still better than any Eastern team.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Managed to play in their new, uncompleted stadium and doubled their win total against the Argos. Collaros was back and looked fabulous. Defence was good too, even getting an uncharacteristic five sacks.

7. Toronto Argonauts
Ricky Ray didn't look very good (and certainly won't be East nominee for most outstanding player like last year (which was pretty dubious itself)) and the Argos mostly stunk. However they did only lose by a single point on the road. So there's that.

8. Montreal Alouettes
Managed to beat Ottawa, proving they're the best of the two worst teams. With a new starting quarterback in Crompton no less.

I thought Ottawa would have more than one win at this time. Maybe the team can retool with the NFL's final cuts.

Non-Import Linden Gaydosh Defensive Tackle Signs with Ticats

Just saw that the's Justin Dunk @jdunk12 that the Cats first overall pick in the 2013 draft Linden Gaydosh just signed with the Ticats. Gaydosh is a defensive tackle and spent time with the Carolina Panthers (mostly injured).

The Cats already (quite unusually in the CFL) play two Canadian in the defensive tackle position with Brian Bulcke and Ted Laurent. So obviously the Cats can spell them off, but it is a bit of a logjam, but probably won't matter much this year. It does give good depth if either of Bulcke or Laurent get injured though.

Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 10

Ottawa at Montreal
Now that there's nine teams in the CFL, the Labour Day weekend games get slightly changed up a bit with BC being the odd man out and the REDBLACKS and the Alouettes restarting a tradition (did Montreal and Ottawa used to play on the Labour Day weekend? Probably.). I would have thought to help out the expansion team, Ottawa would get to host but apparently not. Maybe they will alternate as the home team from year to year. But I digress.

Back to the predictions. Battle of the 1 and 7 teams! Go big or go home. Supposedly Montreal is going to start some quarterback who was on Edmonton for a while, but I'm too lazy to look him up rather than Alex Brink. Huh. Outside the quarterback position I think Montreal is better, but I think in this game Burris will have the edge. A very slight edge.
REDBLACKS 21 Alouettes 20

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
This should be exciting as the Bombers aren't crap anymore. The Riders have Dressler back although how effective he would be with just a couple of days of practice is a question. I'm going to go against the grain and say the Bombers take it. Just a feeling.
Bombers 29 Riders 25

Toronto at Hamilton
Is Collaros going to start? I haven't heard much, just that he is sort of practicing and taking that as a no. I don't think that Masoli is that bad a player, but let's face it, against Ray there's not a lot of hope. Maybe there will be some weird unfinished stadium/Labour Day stand, but that's not the way to bet unfortunately.
Argos 33 Ticats 26

Edmonton at Calgary
Battle of the 7 and 1 teams. That's a little more exciting. Both are good teams, but I think this will come down to home field advantage which is surprisingly huge in the CFL.
Stamps 43 Esks 40