As we head into week 3 matchups, I’m going to be headed east to Nova Scotia for another summer holiday; in addition to seeing family and loved ones and consuming copious amounts of beer, seafood and donairs (check out the immaculate conception that is the Halifax-style donair; seriously, you won’t be disappointed), I’m also hoping that I might have a few spare minutes for a quick Boots on the Ground tour of the possible stadium locations for the CFL franchise that Maritime Football Ltd. hopes to launch for the 2021 season. No guarantees – Lady Maestro and I have a very busy vacation schedule – but if it happens, you’ll get to read about it here!
Notable in news around the league this week was Ricky Ray’s scary-looking neck injury suffered on a hit in the game against the Stampeders; he was taken off on a stretcher and released from hospital on Monday. The team has said he has “feeling in all his extremities” and is expected to miss some “significant time” this season. With such a horrific injury, there’s a real chance that this may in fact be it for the Argos’ Hall of Fame QB. At any rate, Toronto is James Franklin’s team right now, even if perhaps the front office wanted to wait a little bit longer on that front. Hopefully, Ricky Ray makes a full recovery, and even if he never plays football again, he’ll retire as one of the best players to ever play in the CFL. Thinking of you this week, Ricky.
Also in injury news – the Roughriders have assigned starting QB Zach Collaros to the 6-game injured list after he was knocked out of the game against Ottawa and diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms. Obviously, there’s more to this than just a straight concussion, but we wish Zach all the best and hope he returns to the field sooner than expected. In the meantime, Brandon Bridge will take snaps as the starter.
Finally, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats released their third QB in Vernon Adams Jr. this week; he was immediately snapped up by Montreal, the same team where he began his CFL career. A shrewd move by both parties; if the Montreal offence continues to falter, he may have a crack at winning the starting job away from Drew Willy or somebody, and for Montreal, if he can show the form he did as a standout at the University of Oregon, then they’ve finally solved the QB issues plaguing them since Anthony Calvillo’s retirement in 2013. At any rate, it’s still much too early to evaluate this move, but as a depth transaction, you can’t complain.
WEEK 2 RECAPS
Saskatchewan 17 vs. Ottawa 40: I talked last week about being excited to see a new-looks REDBLACKS defence, and man, did they ever come through in a major way. Ottawa racked up three sacks, three interceptions and a forced fumble on the Roughriders, and even knocked Zach Collaros out of the game on heavy pass-rush pressure, sending him into the concussion protocol partway through the second quarter. While the game started off close initially, with the score knotted at 14 after both teams traded pick-sixes, the REDBLACKS pulled away shortly afterwards. This was the most complete game I’ve seen Ottawa play in a long, long time, and while it’s cliched and probably stupid to say “statement game” after just the first contest of the season, this will bode extremely well for them if they continue this level of play.
Winnipeg 56 vs. Montreal 10: Well, the rookie continues to look pretty sharp. Of course, playing against the hapless Alouettes may not necessarily be the best evaluation, but Chris Streveler had himself a night, helping the Blue Bombers to dominate Montreal. Winnipeg’s backup threw three TD passes and ran in another, racking up 246 pass yards on 22-28 attempts plus 98 rushing yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile, the Bombers’ D, led by LB Anthony Gaitor, who had five solo tackles, a sack and an interception, punished Montreal’s offence all game long. QB Drew Willy threw for just 111 yards and a touchdown on 16-25 attempts, and the Alouettes as a team had just 195 yards of offence in total. A total ass-kicking on both sides of the ball for Montreal.
Hamilton 38 vs. Edmonton 21: The debate about Jeremiah Masoli and whether he should be a full-time starter in the CFL should long be over, in my opinion, but hopefully this game silenced the remainder of the doubters. After finishing 6-4 last year under Masoli’s play after their mid-season switch, the Ti-Cats are now 1-1 this season with two excellent offensive performances to show for it courtesy of their quarterback. It was his second straight week of throwing for over 300 yards, and he had some excellent chemistry with WR Luke Tasker, who had 5 catches for 103 yards and 2 TDs. While Edmonton had some big plays of their own, such as a Mike Reilly pass to Duke Williams for an 88-yard touchdown, the Ti-Cats defence, who had a much stronger second half to their 2017 season once June Jones took the reins as head coach, did well to mostly shut the Eskimos down. Rookie RB Mercer Timmis also had a fantastic night for Hamilton, recording 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Calgary 41 vs. Toronto 7: The Stampeders dominated this game – there’s no doubt about that – but the major storyline out of this matchup wasn’t the scoreboard; it was future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray leaving on a stretcher after getting sacked in the third quarter by Ja’Gared Davis and Cordarro Law. Ray went down hard and did not get up, and medical staff were quick to immobilize his head and neck and carefully cart him off to Toronto Western Hospital for further evaluation. With Ray out, James Franklin once again stepped in clean up, and put Toronto’s only points of the night on the board with a late touchdown in the fourth quarter. Beyond that, it was all Calgary – the offence had stellar nights from Bo Levi Mitchell, who was almost perfect, going 20-22 for 324 yards and 3 TDs, and rookie RB Don Jackson, who added 9 carries for 123 yards rushing.
BYE: BC (1-0)
WEEK 3 PREVIEWS
Ottawa (1-0) vs. Calgary (2-0), Thursday, June 28th, 9:00 PM EST: Both teams looked really good last week; probably more surprising that Ottawa was as dominant as they were. All the same, the REDBLACKS, and the entire rest of the CFL, really, have had a lot of trouble winning at McMahon Stadium over the last few seasons. Calgary remains the league’s top team at home, losing just five games there in the last four seasons. Even with lots of roster turnover, they’ve remained humming along as the Big Red Machine we’ve been used to for so much of the last fifteen year; meanwhile, the REDBLACKS, who are also experiencing a lot of roster turnover, particularly on defence, are hoping to keep their momentum rolling after a convincing win last week over Saskatchewan.
Winnipeg (1-1) vs. Hamilton (1-1), Friday, June 29th, 7:00 PM EST: This has potential to be a really, really fun matchup. I’ve been so impressed with Chris Streveler’s play so far in this season; as a CFL rookie, the expectations were so low for him this season, especially considering there wasn’t even a guarantee he’d even make the Bombers out of training camp. And here we are now, with Streveler holding stewardship over the league’s top offence. The Ti-Cats also look more deadly than they have in quite some time, and having consistency right out of training camp I think has much to do with their renewed competitive fire. This is most certainly going to be a much closer matchup than the laugher in Montreal last week.
BC (1-0) vs. Edmonton (1-1), Friday, June 29th, 10:00 PM EST: BC comes off the bye against an Edmonton team left licking their wounds; I was surprised with how vulnerable Hamilton made them look last week. The offence has long been much stronger than the D, but most curious to me was seeing that Eskimos had some difficulty with sustaining drives – something that’s not normally an issue for them. The Lions will have to play some very aggressive D in order to keep pressure up; if Mike Reilly has any time at all, he’ll get rid of the ball and make things happen. Hopefully BC will be able to mix in the run game early on as well and be able to stick to it, because getting yourself into a back-and-forth battle of passing yards is not normally a winning game plan against the Eskimos.
Montreal (0-2) vs. Saskatchewan (1-1), Saturday, June 30th, 9:00 PM EST: The Alouettes are already 0-2, and got absolutely crushed at home, by a backup rookie QB (who is still playing fantastically well, but remains a rookie nonetheless). How much further do they have to fall? Well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we? Of particular interest to this matchup will be quarterback Brandon Bridge and receiver Duron Carter, who are both former Alouettes; Carter left the team on a low note after coming to blows with his teammates at the end of the 2016 season, and Bridge was released in the off-season and signed by Saskatchewan. Considering the ineptitude of Montreal during this current day and age, both players are likely eager to once again stick it to their former team. It remains to be seen whether Bridge will get the starters’ duties, given that Zach Collaros is making progress after being diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms during last week’s Ottawa game, but if he does play, that will be another bit of intrigue for the game.
BYE: Toronto (0-2)
STANDINGS AND STATS
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
- Reilly, EDM – 694
- Masoli, HAM – 676
- Mitchell, CGY – 621
- Streveler, WPG – 6
- Mitchell, CGY – 4
- Masoli, HAM – 3
- Jackson, CGY – 210
- Timmis, HAM – 153
- Harris, WPG – 135
- Walker, EDM – 232
- Williams, EDM – 179
- Tasker, HAM – 174
- Hughes, SSK – 3
- Laing, TOR – 2
- Okpalaugo, WPG – 2
- Rose, OTT – 1
- Smith, EDM – 1
- Purifoy, OTT – 1
- Paredes, CGY – 6
- Medlock, WPG – 5
- Lauther, SSK – 5
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||6||3-1||75.00%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.