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.

9. Ottawa REDBLACKS
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.