Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 1

The CFL regular season is back! Along with my weekly picks.

Toronto Argonauts at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Newsflash! Winnipeg still sucks in 2014, but it may get better. Appointing former Argos special teams coach as head coach may or may not be a good move for the Bombers. The Bombers will go with Drew Willy at quarterback. Willy had some success last year with the Riders, but the Bombers aren't anywhere near as good as the 2013 Riders (the 2014 Riders aren't as good as the 2013 either).
The Argos still have Ricky Ray as their quarterback who should reliably although not particularly excitingly dissect the Bomber defence. Maybe Chad Owens will do something for the Argos.

Toronto 26, Winnipeg 19

Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps seem to be starting Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback which is a smart move. Drew Tate is a whiny bitch. Jon Cornish is back to carry the mantle of best Canadian running back while also probably being the best running back. Montreal is going again with Troy Smith at quarterback. I'm not really sold on Smith, although at least he got some experience last season. The Als also have Chad Johnson to drive page views although whether he'll do much is a pretty open question. Stamps are at home and are likely to come out of the gate better than Montreal
Calgary 25, Montreal 19

Edmonton Eskimos at BC Lions
The Lions are the better team and are at home. Travis Lulay is injured but Kevin Glenn isn't much of a step down. Mike Reilly threw for a lot of yards for the Esks last year, most of it while running for his life. Edmonton could eventually end up better than last year, but I think the first game will be tough.
Lions 31, Esks 27

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Saskatchewan Rough-Riders
The Cats are back to the seen of last year's Grey Cup against the same opponent. The Riders have lost of important players from last year's Cup winning team. The Cats lost Henry Burris and have replaced him with Zach Collaros. If the Cats were at home, I would go with a narrow Cat win, but the Riders (and basically every CFL team) are strong at home. Plus Collaros has only had a few weeks of training camp to get used to brand new receivers and to top it off, Cat slotback Andy Fantuz is out for a week.
Riders 29, Ticats 19

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tim Horton's Field Supposedly Read for Play for Home Opener, Not Finished Until October.

So we finally have some clarity on Tim Horton's Field thanks to a presentation at City Hall yesterday. It pretty much confirmed mine and others' suspicions in that the stadium construction is way behind.

At least they admitted that it won't be finished until October (after the Labour Day game). So port a potties for washrooms and food trucks on the outside. So the same as Guelph last year.

It seems the suites may be finished for the first game, which surprised me somewhat as I thought they might be thrown under the bus in order to get the regular seating in the stands in order. I assume the endzone seating areas won't be ready.

Clearly this can't be good for ticket sales which is too bad for the Ticats.

Since we are in the period of the year with torrential downpours a regular occurrence, that's something to be away of. If the next 30 day is particularly rainy that will cause additional problems.

Anyways we know more now, although not the whole story.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Post Pre-Season Power Rankings

With the regular season about to start, I better get these up.

1. Toronto Argonauts
After the last pre-season game with Hamilton, the fact remains that the Argos quarterback Ricky Ray is a known, decent quality. He's only got so much downside barring injury. I'm assuming that the Argos defence will again be good, if only because the Argos usually start five Canadians on the offensive line so they barely start any Canadians on defence.

2. Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps didn't look all that great in the last pre-season game, however at least John Hufnagel is going to start Bo Levi Mitchell ahead of Drew Tate at quarterback. They've still got Jon Cornish so they should be OK.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Didn't do anything that great against the Argos and the assumed starter Collaros hasn't been overpowering. Not having Andy Fantuz due to injury definitely hurts, as these power rankings are based on what the team will be able to do the coming week. The Cats are pretty deep in Canadian talent so the effect shouldn't be terrible. C.J. Gable will probably be leaned on on.

4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
The Riders are the defending Grey Cup champs, but they lost a lot of important pieces from that team. I'm not sure how much to expect.

5. BC Lions
No Travis Lulay in week one, but they have Kevin Glenn to pick up the slack. They've still got Andrew Harris plus whatever talent Wally Buono has managed to unearth. Plus they have an envious record against EST teams so there's that.

6. Montreal Alouettes
None of the Alouette quarterbacks were impressive in the pre-season and much talked about signing Chad Johnson caught a pass. Tom Higgins has been historically an effective coach so we'll see what happens. The offensive co-ordinator has already been torched and replaced by Ryan Dinwiddie of all people. I'm assuming Jim Popp won't torch Higgins midway through the season, but I won't be totally surprised either.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Some year the Bombers have to get better. Probably not this year, but it has to happen eventually.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
It probably isn't a good sign when you're clamping down on reporter access  during the pre-season. Mike Reilly looks to be a decent quarterback, although I'm assuming he'll be spending a lot of time running for his life and at some point carted off with a concussion.

9. Ottawa Redblacks
They're an expansion team. Haven't looked shabby. But without seeing any real game experience this is where they have to go. I'm assuming depth will kill them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rod Smith New TSN CFL Panel Host

TSN announced that Rod Smith will be taking over from the departed to Sportsnet Dave Randorf as the host of the panel on their CFL broadcasts. TSN took their sweet time deciding on Smith as the host and had panel member Jock Climie as the host for all the pre-season games. I've got no problems with Rod Smith, although I would have been OK with TSN going with someone newer either.

Update On Ticats Tim Horton's Field Expected Tomorrow

The Spec has an article up stating that Ontario Sports Solutions and Infrastructure Ontario will give an update at 9:30 tomorrow morning on the stadium. I'm expecting delays to be spelled out as this will be the first update in a while, but who knows.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mid Pre-Season CFL 2014 Power Rankings

Power rankings during in the middle of the pre-season is bound to be arbitrary. But it is necessary.

1. Calgary
Mostly on the strength of John Hufnagel, Jon Cornish and Bo Levi Mitchell and definitely not the whiny and injury prone Drew Tate. Calgary I can say will field a decent team this year. That's enough to be number one at this point.

2. Hamilton
Can Hamilton win with Zac Collaros as quarterback. That I'm not completely sure about, but with LeFevour and Masoli as backups if Collaros falters someone will emerge. C.J. Gable has the capabilities to have a breakout season and the Cats have a strong receiving corps. Plus surprisingly strong Canadians on defence. In the land of the eunuchs, the man with one ball is king.

3. BC
I'm not sure if Travis Lulay has begun his descent into an injury prone quarterback like Drew Tate, but I'm not not sure either. If he's in he's good, otherwise they have Kevin Glenn and the chip on his shoulder to come in and play successfully if Lulay is injured. And then not play after Lulay becomes healthy again no matter how well Glenn had played during the interim.

4. Saskatchewan
They won the Grey Cup last year, but they lost a lot of talent, like Butler, Dressler, and Kory Sheets. They still have Darian Durant so they shouldn't be total excrement this year, but expect a lot of bitching in Saskatchewan.

5. Toronto
Rick Ray is still an effective if somewhat aged quarterback and I'm going to assume the Argos defence will be good, because they always seem to be of late. That's enough for the fifth ranking out of nine teams.

6. Montreal
Since the last pre-season rankings, the Alouettes fired their offensive co-ordinator possibly because he had a beer during a meeting. I guess head coach Tom "Ned Flanders" Higgins runs a pretty tight ship. I'm not particularly impressed by the Alouette quarterbacks and won't be until they show me something. Chad Johnson strikes me as a distraction, although I'll admit by CFL player standards his Twitter feed is amusing.

7. Edmonton
Maybe Mike Reilly will have better protection this year and won't get killed. I don't know if that last statement is true and I kind of doubt it is. They lost Ted Laurent to Ticats just before the start of camp. Considering the mediocre play of the Eskimos last year, that can't help.

8. Winnipeg
At least former geezer GM Joe Mack isn't around to fuck things up anymore for the Bombers. However he left his mess behind and the Bombers are now in the West. Much bitching from Bomber fans and Doug Brown's newspaper column will ensue.

9. Ottawa
Last place prediction for an expansion team seems safe.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Latest Pictures of Tim Horton's Field

Snapped a few more pictures of Ivor Wynne's replacement. There's no way it will be anywhere near completion for June 30th. For the first home game in late July, it could be possible to have the regular stands done, but no washrooms or in stadium concessions. Bad rain over the next month could certainly cause problems. 

Good Article on Expansion

Friend of the blog M@ has a good article up on further CFL expansion that does a good job of covering all the bases:

I occasionally write about expansion myself. One point about the current situation that I've talked about before is that with nine teams, the schedule is quite unbalanced and there are costs associated with that (i.e. games on a Tuesday). I've argued that the CFL should figure out what those yearly costs are and consider donating some money to whatever stadium ends up being built based on those costs multiplied by a couple of years.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ticats First Pre-Season Game Depth Chart

Another Ticat season starts with today's pre-season game against Montreal. As per usual, I'll go over the starting lineup. Since it is the first pre-season game, it probably isn't that important.

The offensive line has some differences and and some stuff the same as last year. Again the tackles are imports, with Figueroa as the left tackle and Simmons as right tackle, both having played last year. In the middle, Filer is listed at centre with Myddelton at left guard and O'Neil back at right guard (he played centre sometimes too). Obviously no Dyakowski due to injury. I'm wondering if he comes back at all this year.

Collaros is listed as the starting quarterback and LeFevour as the backup. Considering Collaros is still young and has never played for the Ticats, he probably plays more this game than say Burris would have last year.

Starting wide receivers are Koch and Banks. Was never a particular fan of Koch when he didn't play for the Ticats, but maybe he'll prove me wrong. Grant, Tasker and Fantuz are listed as slotbacks with Fantuz the only non-import. All three will be in without a fullback (which is a lot) I assume. Prime is the listed starting fullback. Medlock is back with the Cats and is listed as the starting kicker and punter. Certainly with Medlock, the Cats have opportunities for longer field goals they didn't have last year. Gable is the starting running back.

On the defensive line, Norwood and Boudreaux are both imports, however in the interior the Cats are indeed going with two non-imports as starters (for this game at least) with the returning Bulcke and the recently signed Laurent. That's quite unusual for the CFL, however with two starting you can get away with one decent Canadian backup who can spell off both.

For linebackers, on the outside it is the re-signed Lawrence and Morley, both imports and the returning non-import Plesisus gets the start in the middle. I'm a bit skeptical that that will happen for regular season games, but who knows.

In the secondary, Breaux and Davis both imports start at corner. Stewart and McCollough are the starting half-backs and the newly signed Butler, a non-import starts at safety. That's four defensive Canadian starters, which is a lot by Canadian standards. The Ticats don't lack for Canadian talent on both sides of the ball this year, although that's before injuries. Their Canadian depth seems to be enough that even if they loss a Canadian starter, starting seven won't be a problem.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tickets Available for Pre-Season Game?

I got a Ticat season ticket holder email saying that there's seats available for the pre-season game at Mac. You'll recall those tickets weren't included in the season ticket package and you had to enter a lottery for them (as Mac's capacity is small) and pay extra. I didn't bother and I assume that others didn't either if tickets are available.

I don't think that's a bad sign for overall ticket sales. Pre-season games are just a hard sell.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Apparently the Montreal Alouettes Have Already Fired Offensive Co-ordinator Rick Worman

According to the Montreal Gazette's Herb Zurkowsky, the Als have already shitcanned offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman. Of course I didn't know that a couple of hours ago when I made my pre-season rankings. I guess head coach Tom "Don't Call Me Flanders" Higgins will be the offensive co-ordinator? Weird.

Looking forward to Chad Johnson's comments on Twitter.

TSN New 2014 CFL Host is Jock Climie. Maybe

Well at least for this pre-season game. Climie said it is temporary at the start.

2014 Pre Pre-Season Power Rankings

It has been a while since I've done a power rankings. I meant too, but never got around to it. Now with no strike (yay!) and tonight's first pre-season game between Toronto and Winnipeg I've got to get one done before any type of playing information is known, even pre-season games.

Also we'll find out tonight who replaces Dave Randorf on the panel. I would accept the Wendy's girl. I will not accept Rod Black.

1. Calgary Stampeders
A bit of a risky pick. The Stamps no longer have Kevin Glenn to sub in when Drew Tate is inevitably injured (I think Tate says he won't be healed until next year himself). However they do have Bo Levi Mitchell and a consistent and significantly better running back than the average fungible import running back in Jon Cornish. Second in the West last year, but I'm thinking they've got the drop on the rest of the division.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Somewhat of a homer pick, but at least I didn't put them first. Made it to the Grey Cup before ultimately falling to the Riders, mainly on a bullshit play where the quarterback was sack and the ball flew up into the air and right into the running back's hands. But I digress. The Cats no longer have Henry Burris, who looked good statistically, but down the stretch of the season was frequently spelled off by his backup Dan LeFevour. The Cats have picked up Argo backup Zack Collaros as Burris' replacement. Collaros is young, but had a great run winning a bunch of road games on the road for the Argos while their first string quarterback was injured.

The Cats also have a great receiving corps and a potentially fantastic running back in C.J Gable if he can step it up from last year. The Cats also have a potentially decent defence, with surprisingly good Canadians. The Cats broke a record for injured players last year and still made the Grey Cup, so a better year than last year injury wise would guarantee a good season.

3. BC Lions
Before signing Kevin Glenn, I would have been more leery with my BC placement as I have some concerns with the health of first string quarterback, Travis Lulay. With Glenn, there's less of a dropoff and the rest of the team isn't that bad. I still like Andrew Harris at running back. I'm not super up to date on the off-season moves BC made besides Glenn, but I'm going to assume Wally Buono made good moves.

4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Sure they won the Grey Cup last year, mostly on a lucky bounce early, but what have they done in 2014? Mainly lost some of their most important players. Running back Kory Sheets is gone to the Raiders and Weston Dressler to KC. Who knows if they will stick, but it isn't a great way to start a season. They still have quarterback Darian Durant, but he isn't the best quarterback in the CFL in my opinion and will have a harder time without Dressler and sheets.

5. Toronto Argonauts
First in the East after the regular season, the Argos lost to the Cats in the Eastern final with their crack using mayor in attendance (to be fair, Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina was also at the game and looked somewhat stunned, although that probably wasn't due to crack). The Argos had a decent team last year, especially on defence. The Argos released backup Zack Collaros, so they'll have to make due with somewhat elderly quarterback Ricky Ray even if he gets injured again. The Argos still have Chad Owens although the league seemed to figure him out last year, compared to the previous year. We'll see what the Argos do.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes definitely got somewhat better at the end of the season when they went with quarterback Troy Smith with an injured and now departed Anthoney Calvillo. I'm not sure how good he is as a quarterback over a season and the backups don't inspire me with a lot of confidence. GM Jim Popp always seems to unearth some decent imports so the Alouettes are rarely truly terrible. 

7. Edmonton Eskimos
I don't have a lot of opinions on the Eskimos. Mike Reilly did OK as a quarterback last year considering his porous offensive line. At least he picked up a lot of experience. They could be somewhat better than last year, but that's not saying a lot.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Ugh. Try out a bunch of quarterbacks and hope one emerges. Seems like the Bombers have been doing that since the end of Swaggerville (remember that?). I just can't see this team doing much.

9. Ottawa RedBlacks
They've got Burris as quarterback, but he's no doubt quite old. Personally I would have stuck with Glenn. They are an expansion team therefore last place.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tim Horton's Field Progress

A couple of shots I took yesterday. Certainly won't be ready by the end of June. Not sure where we will be by the first Ticat home game at the end of July. I'm guessing the boxes won't be done.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Say It Ain't So, Dave Randorf Goes to Rogers from CFL's TSN Panel

Yahoo Canada's Chris Zelkowich has the story. Probably not great for the CFL, as I'm guessing whoever ends up as the replacement as panel host won't be as good (and by good I mean keeping a concussion addled Matt Dunnigan in check). Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe someone young like Justin Dunk. Really ballsy would be getting a female host

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tiger-Cats' Peter Dyakowski Now On Nine Game Injury List

Just heard that non-import guard Peter Dyakowski has been put on the nine game injured list. Checked the Ticats roster and Peter is indeed on it, and the only one on it currently.

Dyakowski suffered a serious looking leg injury during the Grey Cup game against the Riders last year and I'm not that surprised he is still injured this year. The nine game injury list is different than the regular list because for the games the player is on the list, the player's salary doesn't count against the salary cap.

Who will replace Dyakowski at guard? I'm not sure at this point and considering training camp has just started the team probably isn't 100% sure either. The Cats no longer have centre Marwan Hage on the offensive line either this year (although he was injured for parts of 2013).

Ticats Sign Non-Import DT Ted Laurent

This is interesting. The Ticats have signed Edmonton Eskimo free agent Ted Laurent, a non-import defensive tackle. Laurent started all 18 games last year for Edmonton, with 36 tackles and four sacks.

A little surprising considering the Cats already have a capable non-import defensive tackle in Brian Bulcke. Possibly the Cats could start two non-imports on the defensive line, which certainly would be rare for a CFL team.