Thursday, August 27, 2009

CFL: Is Fred Reid the Next Stefan Logan?

Ex-BC Lions running back Stefan Logan signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers following a 1,366 all-purpose yard season.

The year before the South Dakota product signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in November 2007 and spent the rest of the year on their practice squad.

Logan then headed north of the border with the BC Lions where he put together a 122 rushing attempts, 889 rushing yard, 52 catch and a 477 receiving yard season.

He added three touchdowns (all receiving) and four fumbles (all while rushing) to his season totals.

Following 2008, he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he's battling for a roster spot as a return specialist.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Fred Reid on the other hand played his college football at Mississippi State, which is no South Dakota but following the draft also went selected.

Just like Logan he bolted for south Florida but headed towards the shore with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005.

He was cut before the season, and didn't play football in 2006.

After star linebacker Barrin Simpson recommended Reid to the Bombers front office guys, they brought him into camp and obviously showed enough to keep a spot on the roster.

As a rookie in 2007 Reid got 40 carries, 270 rushing yards, two touchdowns and eight catches for 120 yards.

Playing in Joe Smith and Charles Roberts's shadow again in 2008, he still managed to get 101 carries and 709 yards with three scores.

Reid added 13 catches for 96 yards to his 2008 totals.

Now, Logan obviously had the better 2008, but Reid is on pace to shatter Logan's 2008 season.

After eight games in 2009, he has 115 rushes (seven less than Logan in a full season) and 795 rushing yards (93 less than Logan in 2008).

Not only are Reid's stats better in three years than Logan in one, they similar in body size.

Reid 5'8", Logan is 5'7" while they're both speedy 185 pound backs.

Because of these similarities, I'd be very surprised to not see Reid get an NFL shot as a kick returner or even a backup running back.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CFL: Plenty of Running Backs Available For Ottawa CFL Team

As a follow-up Steve Thompson's article about possible quarterbacks available for the new Ottawa team in 2010, 2011 or 2012 here's a list of possible running backs who'll be available.

(Kudos to Steve for suggesting this article on my bulletion board.)

•Jesse Lumsden, Edmonton Eskimos
Face it, you and me both know the power back out McMaster is easily one of the most injury prone players in the CFL. However, he has outstanding talent so much so the Seattle Seahawks brought him to training camp in 2005.
But back to the injuries, in the three seasons in Hamilton he always had some kind of injury that caused him to miss some games.
This season, one of the first hits he took all year in the first game, he injured his shoulder. The shoulder injury has caused him to undergo surgery and he'll miss the rest of the season.
But, let's go back to the talent. With his talent he'll most likely continue to get chances with teams in the CFL who need a quality running back or better backup.
Lumsden recently turned 27, which means in 2012 he'll be 30 by mid-season which tends to be the start of the downfall for running backs. But, if Ottawa wants to put fans in the seats they'll take a chance on one of very few Canadian running backs.

•Kenton Keith, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Coming into this season, Keith was the projected start for the Tiger-Cats, but an injury forced rookie running back DeAndra Cobb into the starting role.
As of today, Cobb has 479 yards on 67 carries and is easily one of the best rookies in the CFL.
Cobb's performance makes Keith expendable and whether the Ottawa team starts next season or one of the following years, Keith could be available for them. Assuming he doesn't leave for another NFL oppurtunity.

•Ian Smart, BC Lions
The speedy kick returner was the projected starter when Stefan Logan headed for greener pastures with the Pittsburgh Steelers but an injury and Martell Mallett's great camp performance ended that hope.
Smart is now on the reserve list waiting for another oppurtunity.
BC's backup running back Emmanuel Marc has been satisfactory and doesn't seem like he'll lose his job anytime soon.
If something doesn't happen soon, Marc could become available for team Ottawa.

•Demetris Summers, Calgary Stampeders
Summers wasn't great last year in Calgary (19 carries, 121 yards, 1 touchdown) and then an injury this year has caused him to miss every game.
Calgary has some running back depth behind star Joffrey Reynolds with Canadian Jon Cornish and import Derek Watson.
Summers is more than expendable and Calgary and their fans probably wouldn't be hard broken to part with him.

• Charles Roberts, Free Agent
Probably one of the least likely to be picked up by team Ottawa but the 30 year-old still might be ineligible for "Cash for Clunkers" and could have some gas in the tank.
With his most recent 1,000 yard season coming in 2007 and then getting almost 800 yards with BC and Winnipeg last year he has shown he can still get the job done to an extent.
If no one else if available for them I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberts get a look.

•Other Names
•Joe Smith
•Lavarus Giles
•Tyler Ebell
•An NFL cut

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Channeling Anger, Showing Character|Let's Talk About Jarious Jackson
All of us BC Lion fans remember what happened in that game against the Toronto Argonauts. Last Friday, Jackson came out of the game with the Lions at a 19-7 deficit. Coach Wally Buono took Jackson out for third-string quarterback Travis Lulay, who hadn't made a CFL snap last year. It was surprising to me, though, after my post I made about a month ago for the case of Jackson at starting quarterback.

“Here’s a guy who was put down,” Buono said. “I don’t want to say we didn’t embarrass him, we must have. He was devastated at half-time in the locker room. But my job isn’t to worry about how they feel, unfortunately. My job is get them to win. It’s really a tough process.”

I believe it was a really tough process. Said Jackson after being put out for Lulay:

“I was disappointed. I was very angry. I wanted to stay in there. But I took that anger, I guess, and just channeled it in a different way. I guess that gave me focus.”
It wasn't that big of a deal as Lulay only survived six plays. Coach Buono's decision was to bring Jackson back in again. Many of you may think that Jackson would just fire at Wally, but he came in and played strong after throwing three touchdown passes and stunning Toronto in a 36-28 win.

“Everybody knows that Jarious is a good guy,” Buono said. “But that showed true character. When things were the lowest for him, what did he do? He could have easily quit on us. He could have done all of the things that bad character people do. But he didn’t. He isn’t a turd. He can deal with adversity.”

And that is why I like Jarious Jackson. Just a week after the win against the Toronto, BC lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a week after, 37-10. On September 4, the Lions will face the Montreal Allouettes. Let's hope Jackson performs well, like he has been all year.

The CFL Report
Vancouver Sun

Friday, August 21, 2009

CFL Preview Week Eight: The Bye Week Part 1

In week eight in the CFL, four teams have a bye. The Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats will all have to endure the gruelling bye week that no one ever enjoys!

But, though it may be a bye week for some teams, it most certainly won’t mean a bye for my weekly predictions!

The more and more I think about it, I like the idea of this bye week. My record isn’t the best in the world, and maybe I just need fewer games to pick.

Friday August 21st Doubleheader
Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Montreal Alouettes

The Roughriders will look to exact revenge on the Montreal Alouettes in Montreal this week. Montreal embarrassed Saskatchewan at home earlier in the year, so it should be an intense game.

The Riders have been anything but consistent this season, but they are getting players back from injury slowly. Their offensive line has improved, and Wes Cates has finally found his game.

If Wes Cates can get going against the Montreal Alouettes, it could take the pressure off of Darian Durant.

Montreal is a tough match for any team. They can hurt you on offence in multiple ways and their defence has been stingy.

Montreal is always a tough place to win at, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders have had their share of struggles their. Yet you can never count out the Roughriders, who win when they are not expected too and lose when they are favoured. Yet, beating a red hot Alouette team at home may be too much to ask.

My Pick: Montreal

Game Two: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Lions

In BC, it will be a battle of two gunslingers, as Lion’s pivot Jarious Jackson faces off against Bomber’s pivot Michael Bishop.

Both sitting in their respective division basements, both teams will look to move up the standings.

The Lions have been doing just enough to win ball games recently, winning two in a row. They will hand the ball to Jarious Jackson in this game. Jackson has impressed with the deep ball, but has also been inconsistent. While he will likely test the Bombers defence deep, he also needs throw the intermediate routes as well.

Look for rookie running back Martel Mallet to continue his success.

The Bombers on the other hand are in a lot of trouble. Michael Bishop has been inconsistent, and the team doesn’t have any proven stars on offence except for Fred Reid and Terrance Edwards.

Luckily for the Bombers, BC’s run defence is pretty bad, so Fred Reid could have a huge game. If the Bombers can get Fred Reid going, and their defence plays well like it has in the past, they may have a chance to pull off the upset.

My Pick: Winnipeg

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Add Vikings QB to Negotiation List

WINNIPEG, MB-The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have announced that Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has been added to their negotiation list.

Jackson a Alabama State product, was competing with journeyman quarterback Sage Rosenfels for the starting job before Brett Favre came out off retirement again, and was named starter.

Not only that but he missed half of training camp and told them he was retiring, only to come back out of it, escorted by Brad Childress and his escalade to practice. And to top it all of he was followed by ESPN's helicopters.

Damn it, I'm babbling.

Back to the Jackson story, he'll more likely never come up to Canada, just like Vince Young being on the Argos neg. list, but if he becomes a free agent and isn't signed he'll be open to join the Bombers.

Currently, Michael Bishop is starting while Stefan LeFors (who recently took a paycut) is the backup with Bryan Randall third string.

However, the odds of him joining that group is slim with teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars needing a backup.

But, if he does get released and doesn't get signed (you have better chances of winning the lottery than having that happen) then my guess is that LeFors will be given his walking papers, solely because of his awful performance as starter.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Backup Quarterbacks Needed Everywhere

Let's see here, all across the CFL there are 23 quarterbacks on active rosters, two on practice rosters, three injured and one on reserve.

Zac Champion of the BC Lions is the one on reserve and is irrelevant to this discussion while Ricky Santos (Montreal), Graham Harrell (Saskatchewan) and Jason Boltus (Hamilton) are "injured" and also irrelevant here.

And also for the purpose of this discussion (which you're not sure about yet) let's exclude every free agent quarterback and every quarterback who'll be cut by the NFL.

Now, where am I headed with this? You'll see in a minute.

In Calgary there's a bit of a quarterback controversy and I'd say they'd like to keep Burris, Nealy and Tate with them for now while they sort it out.

Hamilton likes Porter, Glenn and Tafralis, Montreal is good with Calvillo, McPherson and Leak while in Winnipeg Bishop, LeFors and Randall are good enough for them.

Now that leaves BC, Saskatchewan, Edmonton and Toronto.

If you saw the game between BC and Toronto last night, you saw Buck Pierce and Travis Lulay go down with head injuries for BC while Jarious Jackson was inconsistent.

In Toronto, Joseph and Pickett are doing battle but Pickett looked good enough and they don't seem to need a third guy and the only other QB on the roster is Stephen Reaves (practice roster) who probably won't garner much interest.

Edmonton and Saskatchewan however have some moveable pieces.

With Graham Harrell's expected arrival any week now from the injured list, Saskatchewan could part with either Steven Jyles or Dalton Bell in a trade but that would require a team give up something like a draft pick.

On the Riders practice roster is high flying quarterback Cole Bergquist and all a team would have to do is sign him and give up nothing but money to the guy.

Edmonton on the other hand has starter Ricky Ray, veteran Jason Maas and rookie Jared Zabransky.

Zabransky has shown the Eskimos enough promise to keep him on while Maas has a proven track record.

Now to the point of this article, if Pierce and/or Lulay are going to miss any significant amount of time or if Calgary decides they need more QB help or Toronto decides they need a third guy but don't want it to be Reaves then watch out for some moves.

If anyone goes I'd expect Bergquist to get signed, Bell might get dealt and Maas could go if Zabransky continues to improve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CFL Preview Week Seven: The Wild West

Could the real contender in the Wild Western Division please stand up?

Six weeks through the CFL season and there are few certainties.

The Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger Cats seem to be firm contenders in the East, but not one team in the West has stood up. Through a series of missed opportunities, we are still uncertain who the powerhouse in the West is.

Three of the teams currently sit at 3-3 while the BC Lions pulled to 2-4 last week by beating the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Speaking of that game, it contributed to my two incorrect picks last week. In the other, I picked Winnipeg to upset Calgary, which almost did happen. After going 2-2, I am still below .500 with my picks.

Prediction Time
Disagree with my picks. Tell me your picks down below.

Thursday Aug. 13th
Game One: Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos

The Calgary Stampeders fought back last week to get back to .500, whereas the Edmonton Eskimos missed a glorious opportunity to sit atop the West by losing to the Hamilton Tiger Cats. In this years first installment of the "Battle of Alberta," tempers should be high.

Ricky Ray continued his inconsistent play last week. He threw for a lot of yardage, but also tossed two interceptions. Still, Ray looks to be regaining his solid form slowly. Throw in the fact that Edmonton now has somewhat of a running game, and their offense suddenly isn’t looking so anemic.

Look for the Eskimos to attack Calgary’s inexperienced secondary with Kamau Peterson, Maurice Mann, and Fred Stamps.

Calgary, on the other hand, is still off course without star receiver Keynon Rambo. Luckily, players like Jermaine Copeland have stepped up.

Edmonton has a stingy front seven, so running the ball with Joffrey Reynolds may be tough. If Calgary can establish him, however, they could open up the passing game and terrorize Edmonton’s defense.

With two teams that look to be fairly equally matched, this game could come down to who can run the ball and control the line of scrimmage the best. This game will likely be a close contest, but Edmonton is playing at home. Their natural grass is still one of the toughest turfs to play on, and that may be the advantage they need.

My Pick: Edmonton

Friday August 14th
Game One: BC Lions at Toronto Argonauts

Things are starting to look up for the BC Lions. They got an ugly win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week and are facing one of the most struggling teams in the CFL, the Toronto Argonauts. Fresh off a shut-out loss against the Montreal Alouettes, the Argonauts are desperate for a win.

For the game, the Argos have benched former MOP Kerry Joseph in favour of back-up pivot Cody Picket. The news was a bit shocking, seeing as Toronto has a lot of other problems than just the quarterback position. Still, a change was perhaps necessary. Pickett will look to rejuvenate a struggling Argos offense.

To do this, it would be smart to get Jamal Robertson involved. BC’s run defense is one of the worst in the league and they could get a big game out of Jamal Robertson.

Similarly, the Lions need to establish the run with rookie sensation Martel Mallet. Mallet is a hard runner which is good because Toronto has a tough front seven. Buck Pierce didn’t have an amazing game last week, but he did a little better job of taking care of the ball. This will be crucial against an Argos team that will be looking for any break they can get.

Upon first glance, it would appear that the Lions will win this game. They are coming off of a victory and Toronto is struggling. The game is in Toronto, however, and road games are never a sure thing. Toronto will likely get a good running game going against the Lions, which will help Cody Pickett settle down. If Pickett has any success at all, look for Toronto’s stingy defense to take care of the rest.

My Pick: Toronto

Saturday August 15th
Game One: Montreal Alouettes at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

They have beaten the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger Cats, and now it is time for the Montreal Alouettes to prove they are indeed top dogs in the East by beating Winnipeg. In fact, Winnipeg has also beaten Toronto and Hamilton, but I’m pretty sure no one thinks they're top dogs in anything.

Winnipeg has recently seen new life with quarterback Michael Bishop added into the line-up. Bishop has been an immediate upgrade over Stefan Lefors and almost led the Bombers to victory over the Stampeders.

But the big reason for the improvement in Winnipeg’s offense is Fred Reid. Reid rushed for 176 yards against Calgary last week, and he will be the player to watch on Saturday. Winnipeg should look to get Reid involved in the run game and the passing game. The Bombers can also look to their other big gun on offense, Terrance Edwards.

The Montreal Alouettes, on the other hand, have a balanced offensive attack. They can hurt you on the ground with Avon Cobourne, or go to the air with Ben Cahoon, Jamal Richardson, and Kerry Watkins. Winnipeg’s defense has been better as of late, but it is a big task shutting down the Als offense.

Fans in Winnipeg have new faith since Michael Bishop arrived. But as a Roughriders fan all I can say is, give it a few weeks. Sure, Bishop looks good at times, but he will ultimately choke when the pressure is on. Montreal is likely going to key on Fred Reid all game, forcing Michael Bishop to throw the ball a lot and likely turn the ball over. On the other side, Anthony Calvillo should do enough to get an important road win.

My Pick: Montreal

Sunday August 16th
Game One: Hamilton Tiger Cats at Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Hamilton Tiger Cats are 4-2? Is this the same team who has been so bad for so long? Every game so far, fans have been saying, “This is the real test for Hamilton.” Well so far, they have passed most of those tests. They have swept the BC Lions in two games and beaten the Edmonton Eskimos, proving they are indeed for real. Still, they will get another test this week against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders have been so inconsistent this year. They look good one week against a tough opponent, and then falter the next week against an easy one. Ken Miller doesn’t seem to be inspiring the Riders to do well, and it has surely shown in their play.

Luckily, the team will be getting back defensive end John Chick, who should help stabilize the defensive line. Unluckily, however, the team will be without star middle linebacker Renauld Williams for some time. This isn’t good when DeAndra Cobb is coming into town.

Cobb has been the story of the year so far. He is tearing it up in the ground game and should pose a problem to a weak Riders run defense. Gary Etcheverry’s defense, which is good at creating turnovers, will have to also focus on shutting down Cobb. Without a running game, Quinton Porter will have to throw the ball to beat the Riders. This could only bode well for the Riders.

On offense, the Riders need to get the ball to their playmakers. With Wes Cates in the backfield and receivers like Jason Clermont and Weston Dressler, the Riders have no shortage of talent. The offensive line also needs to do a much better job giving Darian Durant protection.

Finally returning home after a two game road trip, the Riders will be playing in front of a loud home crowd. But will they give them anything to cheer about? I never thought I would pick Hamilton to win in Regina, but they have DeAndra Cobb on their side. Without Renauld Williams in the middle, I’m not sure Saskatchewan can stop the run this week.

My Pick: Hamilton
My Record: 11-13 (46%)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CFL Recap Week Six: The Call

Fans that happened to tune in to the Friday tilt featuring the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders were likely surprised about two things.

Firstly, the Riders played so poorly after beating the Calgary Stampeders the week before. And secondly, a crucial call was missed in the first half that may have changed the momentum of the game.

The call happened near the end of the second quarter. Sean Whyte had just punted the ball and Gerran Walker had attempted to catch the short punt in the air. Walker fumbled the football, and a crazy series of events pursued.

The Lions' James Dennis failed to pick up the fumble, and then rookie linebacker James Yurichuk of the Lions kicked the ball forward. As the ball was bouncing toward Saskatchewan’s end, Jason Arakgi tried and failed to pick up the pigskin. Eventually, O’Neil Wilson picked up the football and scored a 14-yard touchdown.

So what was wrong with the play?

Well, according to CFL rules, a player is allowed to dribble the ball forward, but it has to be recovered by an onside player. Jason Arakgi, the first Lion to touch the ball after the kick, was offside. The ball should have returned to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Head official Tom Higgins said, "It was wrong, we made a mistake, and this is too big not to 'fess up to.'" It's hard because the official who is watching has to watch the football. How can he tell if someone is onside or offside when he's watching the football?

This was a huge momentum changer in the game. Saskatchewan could have had time left in the half to increase their 14-12 lead, but instead they went into the half down 19-14, on a touchdown that should not have even counted.

BC went on to outscore the Riders 16-10 in the second half and won the game 35-20.

Of course, the bad call isn’t taking anything away from the Lions' performance. The Lions were on a mission and took advantage of a sloppy Roughriders squad. However, that non-call still had a huge impact on the game.

The Riders basically lost by one touchdown, as the Lions scored one late. Instead of giving up a touchdown late in the first half, the Riders may have increased their lead. Needless to say, the officials will need to do a better job on these crucial plays.

While Ken Miller and the Riders should have challenged the call, the officials also could have as well, especially on such a pivotal play.

Other Notes from Week Six:

The CFLWhere Shutouts Happen:

The Toronto Argonauts fell to the Montreal Alouettes 25-0 on Friday, failing to register a point for the first time in 17 years. Though offensive struggles have been nothing new to the Toronto Argonauts, a shutout is a new low for the team.

Both Argo pivots, Cody Pickett and Kerry Joseph, were sacked a combined total of seven times, and neither threw over a hundred yards. Jamal Robertson’s struggles continued as he only rushed for 20 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the defense struggled to contain Anthony Calvillo and Ben Cahoon. Calvillo threw for 380 yards and Cahoon had over 100 yards.

Do or Die For the Lions:

In the Lions aforementioned victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Lions' big guns finally stepped up. Buck Pierce was 26/34 with 215 yards and a touchdown.

Martell Mallet rushed for 99 yards and Paris Jackson had 92 yards receiving. New middle linebacker seemed to fit in well for the Lions. The win was crucial for the Lions, who would have fallen to 1-5 with a loss.

Glatt’s Got the Riders Number:

Lions' linebacker Javier Glatt, who has currently been demoted with the signing of Jojuan Armour, registered an interception against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Glatt has two interceptions on the season, both against the Riders.

Hamilton Makes A Statement:

The Tiger Cats beat the Eskimos 28-21 this week, in what was one of the most exciting games of the season so far.

The Tiger Cats faced adversity throughout the game, but their defense stepped up big-time. They held the Eskimos to three points in the second half. Meanwhile, the offense did enough to get the job done.

DeAndra Cobb tore it up on the ground, pulling off a huge run near the end of the game that set up the game-winning touchdown. Many doubted Hamilton heading into the season, but they are succeeding where a lot of other supposed contenders are failing.

Bruce All Mighty:

Tiger Cats receiver Arland Bruce, who was traded from the Argonauts because of his poor attitude, has been making a great impression on his new team. Bruce has been a much better tea player in Hamilton, and he has started contributing to the offense. Bruce had 78 yards for the Tiger Cats against the Eskimos.

Shoot-Out in Calgary:

The Blue Bombers have been struggling a lot on offense recently, but they did much better this week against Calgary. Winnipeg nearly pulled off the upset, losing 31-23. The exciting Michael Bishop threw for 209 yards and Fred Reid tore it up on the ground, running for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Yet, when all was said and done, the Stampeders got the job done.

Players of the Week: Week Six

Offensive: Anthony Calvillo

In the Als route of the Argonauts, Calvillo threw for 380 yards. That is never easy against a usually stingy Argonauts defense.

Defensive: Brent Johnson

All year, the Lions have been lacking a solid pass rush with the loss of Cameron Wake. Brent Johnson finally stepped up against the Riders. He recorded three sacks and a forced fumble.

Special Teams: Sean Whyte

Whyte was 4-4 in the kicking department this week. He nailed four crucial field goals in the Lions' victory over the Roughriders.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CFL Preview Week Six: Playing For Schultz

Week five was a typical week in the CFL, one full of surprises.

From the unexpected debut of Michael Bishop for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, to Edmonton’s impressive victory of the then undefeated Montreal Alouettes. The Hamilton Tiger Cats ran over the BC Lions at home and Saskatchewan silenced a lot of doubters by going into Calgary and stealing a win.

Well these surprises made for an entertaining week, it certainly was not favourable for my picks. Thanks to Montreal’s collapse, Winnipeg’s narrow victory, and Saskatchewan finally waking up, I went 1-3 with my picks last week.

My record is now up to 9-11, but I refuse to believe that I will stay in this funk! We all heard the saying before, ‘it’s not how you start but how you finish.” Well I plan to prove that from now on by making some solid picks.

Prediction Time
Disagree with my picks… well you’re probably right. See if you can do better by commenting down below.

Friday Double Header

Game One: Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes

The Montreal Alouettes showed us one thing last week; they are human, not all mighty super gods. And, contrary to Chris Cuthbert’s beliefs, will not go 18-0 this season. The Alouettes will welcome in their bitter rivals to town, the Toronto Argonauts.

A couple of questions will factor into the result of this game. Is Toronto’s offense capable of playing like they did earlier in the season, or have they reverted back to last year’s offense? And was last weeks loss to Edmonton the wake-up call that Montreal needed, or are they going to have a hangover from the loss?

The only thing that will prevent this game from being a blow-out in Montreal’s favour, is Toronto’s suddenly impressive defense. The front seven, lead by Adriano ‘the kissing bandit’ Belli, Ronald Flemons and an impressive linebacking core have helped make Toronto’s defense one of the top defense’s in the league. Toronto will likely send the house at Anthony Calvillo, blitzing like crazy to throw the crafty pivot off his game. It will also give Anthony Calvillo less time to throw the ball, which will in effect eliminate the deep game.

Toronto may have a decent time stopping Montreal on offense, but the Argo’s offense is porous. Kerry Joseph is struggling and Jamal Robertson’s productivity has all but disappeared. Without Arland Bruce, Toronto is lacking a deep threat at receiver.

As mentioned, Toronto’s defense will likely prevent this game from being a blow-out, but it won’t deliver them a win. Toronto will have to move the ball consistently against Montreal to win the game, but this has been easier said than done for Toronto. Montreal is going to be angry, and playing in front of their home crowd.

My Pick: Montreal

Game Two: Saskatchewan Roughriders at BC Lions

With long time defensive tackle Scott Schultz’s surprising retirement earlier this week, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be thinking of Schultz as they travel to hostile BC Place to take on the Lions. After a two game losing streak, the Riders seem to have things back on track, whereas the Lions are in a funk.

In all honesty, this game may well be a blow-out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Riders have played well in recent years at BC, much like the Lions have played well in Saskatchewan. The Lions run defense is porous, and Saskatchewan will attack them with a healthy Wes Cates. The Riders were lacking an effective running game in their first game against the Lions, which resulted in a close game.

A solid running game should tire out a talented Lions secondary, and open up the passing game for Darian Durant and receivers Weston Dressler, Chris Getlzaf and Jason Clermont.

As I said, the Riders should very realistically win this ball game, but they were supposed to win against Edmonton too. Saskatchewan needs to be focused going into the game and get the job done.

If the Lions want any chance to win this game, they need to get Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon more involved. Simon and Jackson are the Lions best players on offense, but their success has been limited. Establishing the running game with talented rookie Martel Mallet could help.

It is always a close contest when these bitter rivals face off, but BC has lost their spark this year. With so many veterans released, and not enough quality players stepping into their place, Wally Buono has had his hands full making this team a winner. Saskatchewan has the momentum on their hands, whereas BC is coming off of two humiliating losses in a row.

My Pick: Saskatchewan

Saturday Double Header

Game One: Edmonton Eskimos at Hamilton Tiger Cats

The Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger Cats have both had their struggles in recent years. Hamilton has not had a winning season in ages and Edmonton just came off a two year drought from the playoffs last year. Yet, both of these teams find themselves in a good position so far this season. The Eskimos are tied for first in the West and the Hamilton Tiger Cats are in striking distance of first in the East.

Both sporting identical 3-2 records, this game should show which of these teams has what it takes to go to the next level.

Ever since there comeback victory in Saskatchewan, the Eskimos have been playing great. They handed the Montreal Alouettes their first loss of the season, and are starting to look like contenders.

Edmonton is having success on the ground with Calvin McCarty and Arkee Whitlock, and Ricky Ray is back on track in the passing game. Edmonton’s defense is also looking much better under the guidance of Richie Hall.

But Edmonton is facing off against a Tiger Cat team that is equally impressive. Star running back DeAndra Cobb has been eating defense’s alive, and Quinton Porter is improving each game. This game may very well be won in the trenches. The team that can run the ball and protect their quarterback the best, may be the team that wins the game.

Both Edmonton and Hamilton are fairly equally matched on paper, but Hamilton does have home field advantage. In a game that appears to be this close, that may be the advantage they need.

My Pick: Hamilton

Game Two: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders

In week two, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got their first win, in the process dropping Calgary’s record to 0-2. Calgary will look to exact revenge as they welcome the Bombers into town.

I have to give Bomber’s head coach Mike Kelly credit. After the horrible play from all three of his quarterbacks, Kelly brought in Michael Bishop and got him ready to play on short notice. Bishop threw for 213 yards with one touchdown and interception, and did enough to get the Bombers the win.

It would appear that Winnipeg has it tough against the Calgary Stampeders, but the CFL is hardly predictable. With Stefan Lefors at the helm in week two, the Bombers handled the Stampeders quite easily. The Bombers have a talented running game, and Michael Bishop seems to play well against the Calgary Stampeders.
The Stampeders offense is still playing well this year, even without Kenyon Rambo in the line-up. Henry Burris still has plenty of tools at his disposal, such as Joffrey Reynolds, Jermaine Copeland and Nik Lewis. But they are matching up against one of the top defenses in the league, led by the fierce Doug Brown, Barrin Simpson in the middle, and the ball hawking outside linebacker Shideq Shibazz.

While the Stamps may have the advantage on paper in this game, I think it is time to stop piecing Calgary to win just because they are the defending Grey Cup Champions. It’s a new year, and Calgary will have to show they still have what it takes to win this year. Calgary’s defense is not as good as the Bombers defense. If Michael Bishop can put up some points on the Calgary defense, the Bombers may pull off yet another upset in the CFL.

My Pick: Winnipeg

My Record: 9/20 (45%)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Derick Armstrong Remains Free Agent, But for How Long?

After one game this year, in which wide receiver Derick Armstrong declined to play since he was made designated import, he was released.

Following his release, many Hamilton fans like myself believed it would be a match made in heaven for Armstrong to team up with star Prechae Rodriguez and young quarterback Quinton Porter. But that never turned out and Hamilton ended up trading the rights to defensive lineman Corey Mace (now with the Bills) to the Argonauts for unhappy star Arland Bruce.

Now let's think here, Hamilton now has more than likely no interest in him, Montreal should be good without him, Calgary has seven active ones so no need there, Edmonton is solid enough and Saskatchewan has really no problem with its wideouts.

So that leaves BC and Toronto since I doubt Winnipeg will take him back. But since Toronto recently re-signed P. K. Sam (he signed with Buffalo in the offseason but was waived when he became injured) and so far Mike Bradwell and Tyler Scott have held their own as well. So I'll take Toronto out of the running.

That leaves BC if you didn't figure that out already. Why BC you ask? Yes, Paris Jackson was a CFL West All-Star last year and Geroy Simon is just amazing. Rookie Emmanuel Arceneaux has also impressed while there's really nothing wrong with Ryan Grice-Mullen, Rufus Skillern, Greg Hetherington and Lyle Green. But that's just the thing everyone other than Simon will get no more one defender. And since you play three that's not so good.

By bringing in Derick Armstrong, the Lions add another scary wide receiver which will take some attention off of Geroy Simon who's been held pretty quiet for who he is. In my opinion, the Lions should bring in Armstrong if they hope to turn around their 1-4 start.

Goodbye Schultzy: Remembering Scott Schultz

It’s official, Saskatchewan Roughrider’s defensive tackle and fan favourite Scott Schultz has retired from the Canadian Football League. Unexpected and sort of untimely, the announcement is definitely surprising and saddening for the ‘Rider Nation’.

A retirement during the beginning of the season is rare, but Scott Schultz is apparently pursuing a promising career opportunity in the insurance business.

Though Scott Schultz is still young, the 31-­­­year-old Moose Jaw native has had a lasting impact on the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization.

In college, Scott Schultz spent his entire career with the North Dakota Fighting Soux. The gritty nose tackle was a team captain in 2000, and had 146 career tackles and 11.5 sacks. Schultz definitely had a successful career in college and was named first team all-NCC in 1999 and 2000.

Scott Schultz was then selected with the first overall pick in the 2001 Canadian Football League College Draft. Schultz didn’t make an immediate impact for the Riders, as he also spent time with the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers during his first two years.

2003 was the beginning of great things for the Moose Jaw boy. In 2003, Schultz had six sacks and 32 defensive tackles. He also started in both the Western Semi-Final and Western Final, where he recorded one sack. The next season, Schultz finished with 27 tackles and eight quarterback sacks.

Scott Schultz continued his success over the next couple of seasons, and he was named a CFL all-star in 2005.

Throughout his career, Schultz perhaps had the most success when he was teamed up with fellow defensive tackle Nate Davis. Davis and Schultz created a deadly combo at the tackle position, helping form a tough defense for the Riders. Schultz and Davis also forged a solid friendship.

But the crowning moment in Schultz’s career, along with many of the long-time Saskatchewan Roughriders involved, was the Grey Cup victory in 2007. Schultz was a integral part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Cinderella run to the Grey Cup finals, where they beat the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers to claim the Grey Cup.

Schultz shared in the glory of the victory. He was able to lift the cup high and proud, as he helped deliver glory to a promise that had been long starved of the Grey Cup.

Scott Schultz meant so much to the Riders, more than the stats could ever tell.

He was a consummate pro and a leader on the Saskatchewan Roughriders team. Anyone who has been to a Rider game has seen Scott Schultz right in the middle of team huddles, pumping up the team and the crowd. Schultz always brought a level of emotion to the game that made him a fun player to watch.

Schultz also meant a lot to the community. He did and still works in Regina, and has always taken time to give back to Regina. He has been running a football camp for some time now, giving advice to players who share the same dream that he did.

Always friendly with the media, Scott Schultz always came up with the most interesting one-liners He was always willing to take time out for the fans.

Being a former high-school defensive tackle in Saskatchewan, I know that Scott Schultz was always a player you aspired to be. A player who always gave it his all and was always a tough match for any offensive lineman. I still remember meeting Scott Schultz for the first time and getting his autograph. It was a great experience.

Whether it was signing an autograph, taking time to talk to the media, or bringing the crowd to its feet with an amazing tackle, Scott Schultz represented what it meant to be a Saskatchewan Roughrider.

On behalf of the Rider nation I’ve got to say: congratulations on your retirement and a great career Scott Schultz, and we will miss watching you creating havoc in the backfield.

Monday, August 3, 2009

BC Lions Sign Three Including Armour

VANCOUVER, BC-In a move to shure up their linebacking core, the BC Lions signed ex-Calgary Stampeder JoJuan Armour. They also added running back AJ Harris and defensive lineman James Edwards.

Armour spent the 04' and 05' seasons with BC and will more than likely bump Javier Glatt to special teams. Armour who was released by Calgary after throwing teammate Jeremaine Copeland to the ground in training camp said that he is "week to week" and won't speculate when he'll play.

Harris spent the 2008 season with Edmonton and had 37 catches for 422 yards for the Eskimos before being released this offseason.

Edwards led the McMaster Marauders in sacks in both 06' and 07' and had one year of eligibility remaining.