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.