Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week Five Reviews (ending July 30)

British Columbia at Winnipeg

Wally Buono's season from hell continued on this week, as his BC Lions dropped an emotion charged game with the hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night.  A 25- 20 loss that dropped the Lions to an 0 and 5 record, and racking up stats that suggest major changes may be required with both offensive and defensive plans.

The Bombers played the game with heavy hearts, as they took time with the Lions pre game to commemorate the passing of their assistant coach Richard Harris earlier in the week, both teams gathered a centre field prior to kick off to watch a video that provided a sample of the importance that the long time CFL coach had far beyond his current stop of Winnipeg.

When the game commenced, the Bomber defence put on a display that would have made their coach proud, providing a strong effort on the D that rocked the Lions offence at key times of the game.  However, for a good portion of the game the Lions answered back with some strong Defensive play of their own, providing the Lions with the opportunity to claim a first victory on the season.

With Buck Pierce once again forced from the Blue Bomber lineup due to injury, it did seem as though the Lions had the opportunity break the win less streak, in fact with 2 and half minutes left on the clock, Travis Lulay was leading his Lions down the field towards a potential touchdown,  but a missed interference call, which saw Geroy Simon clearly held as he attempted to catch a Lulay pass proved to be the final blow to the Lions chances on Thursday night. a game which showed some progress for the Lions, but nothing to show in the standings where things tend to count by season's end.

For the Bombers, holding on to snare the victory will no doubt help to ease the pain of the loss of a coach who clearly had an impact on many that wore Bomber uniforms over the last few years.

Led by their defence, which claimed six QB sacks on the night, an extra effort that seemed rooted in their quest to win one for their coach.  Offensively, third stringer Alex Brink may have provided a bit of reassurance for Bomber fans that all may not be lost should Buck Pierce need to step to the sidelines as he did after the third quarter, while nervous at times, Brink managed to move the ball when required and  pick up some key points to take the lead from the Lions and propelled the Bombers on to  4 and 1 record on the year thus far, the kind or run that at the moment Wally Buono can only dream about.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers post emotional win over Lions
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers score inspirational win
Vancouver Province-- B. C.  Lions defence good, but Bombers better in Leos' latest loss
Vancouver Sun-- Blue Bomber send Lions reeling to 0-5
Globe and Mail-- Bombers keep Lions winless
National Post-- Late drive lifts Blue Bombers over winless Lions

Montreal at Hamilton

The pre game hype this week seemed to revolve around Avon Cobourne's talking points about his former team and by games end, it was clear that when it comes to walking the walk, Cobourne can give as good as  he says.

The hometown Tiger Cats seem to have righted their early season mis steps, as they convincingly sent the Alouettes off to their second loss of the season,  the Cats topping the Als by a score of 34-26. The Alouette loss marked the first time since 2008 that the Als have lost two consecutive regular season games.

The Cats depended on Cobourne's running attack to keep the Alouettes defence off balance, while Kevin Glenn found success in the air through the hands of Dave Stala who snared two TD passes on the way to the Ti Cat victory.

The Alouettes on the other hand, made things a little too predictable, relying mainly on an aerial offensive, which the Cats managed to reign in as the game moved into the fourth quarter.

It was a chippy game in the trenches, with 14 penalties called during the course of the sixty minutes, penalties that proved to be more costly to the Alouettes than the TiCats, something that no doubt will be mentioned during the upcoming week of practices for the Als as they prepare for their next game in Toronto this weekend.

The Hamilton win moved the team into second place in the suddenly very competitive East, the Cats taking advantage of two weeks of Alouette stumbles to regain some footing in the division. The win against the defending Grey Cup champs also provides the Cats with a bit more confidence as they head on into week six and a match up with the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

National Post-- Ticats hand Alouettes second straight loss
Globe and Mail-- Ti-Cats upset Alouettes
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats upset Als 34-26 Avon Cobourne, Ticats make no apologies

Toronto at Edmonton

Argos coach and GM Jim Barker  must be wondering what it is that they have to do get untracked, as once again the Argos proved to be their own worst enemies, ending up on the short end of the 26  to 25 final score in a error prone game in Edmonton Friday night.

It was an ugly game by any standard, neither team looking particularly confident though for the most part the game it seems was the Argos to lose, and they fulfilled that possibility heading into the second half as they surrendered a 17 - 1 half time lead.

With Argos starter Cleo Lemon still on the injured list, Dalton Bell was given the start and was calling a pretty steady game in the first thirty minutes, leaving the Commonwealth faithful perhaps to ponder if the last four weeks had indeed been too good to be true.

But, in what seems to be a recurring theme this year for the double blue, the end result of sixty minutes of labour isn't necessarily going to be a W to add to the checklist.

Penalties once again proving to be the root cause of the Argos destruction as untimely penalty calls provided the Eskimos with the opportunity to not only chip away at the Argo lead, but take charge of the final half of the fourth quarter as Ricky Ray led the key drive down the field, calling on Fred Stamps twice for key receptions on the way to the go ahead touchdown.

The Argos to their credit continued to battle on, left with one last gasp chance with nine seconds to play, a 57 yard field goal attempt that fell short securing a one point victory for the Eskimos, leaving up in the air the question as to why the Argos didn't attempt to punt the ball through the end zone for a single point and a potential overtime.

While the ending was thrilling, the errors of play and untimely nature of the penalties, made it one of the sloppiest of games thus far in the season, one which may get a review in the film room, but certainly not in the world of positive reinforcement, rather it could be the season's first real production designed to show "how not to do this".

Globe and Mail-- Eskimos edge Argos to stay undefeated
National Post-- Eskimos roar back to edge Argos
Toronto Sun-- Argos fall to Eskimos
Toronto Star-- Argos lose by one point on wild night in Edmonton
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos run record to 5-0 against Argos
Edmonton Sun-- Bizarre loss dogs Argos

Calgary at Saskatchewan

When Calgary comes a calling in Regina it's always a highly anticipated event, and Saturday night was no exception as the Stampeders came into Mosaic Field and took two points back west with them, handing the Riders their third loss at home this year, leaving the Green Riders to yet provide their fans with a victory to celebrate at home.

Calgary's offence still seems to be having problems kicking into an extra gear,  requiring the Stamps to depend on the foot go Rene Parades who went four for five on the night, leading the way to the Stampeders 22-18 victory.

The game was a typical hard hitting affair between the two squads, but even by the standards of past Stamp/Rider games, the hit that Romby Bryant took in the second half was off the Richter scale. Romby crossing across the field reeled in a Henry Burris pass but was immediately rocked by Tristan Jackson, who delivered one of those hits that seemed to be still rattling around Mosaic Field long after the teams had left.

While there is still work to be done on the offensive side of the ball, the Stamps must at least be pleased that  of their three wins thus far in 2011 all three have come on the road,  a string of victories that at least are keeping them within radar distance of their provincial rivals the Eskimos who have so far been yet to taste defeat.

Calgary returns home to a major challenge this week as the Hamilton Tiger Cats, a team which has begun to get into its groove arrive in town to take on the Stamps at McMahon Stadium.

Saskatchewan on the other hand, is but one game removed from having to battle the BC Lions for most woeful team of the West, with a 1 and 4 record so far in 2011, the Riders are nowhere near the kind of confidence that they had last season as they battled the Alouettes for the Grey Cup last November.

The Riders travel west to British Columbia and a Friday night Football doubleheader finale against the Lions, a team which is desperate for a win and may welcome the chance to add to the woes of the struggling Riders.

National Post-- Kicker Paredes leads Stampeders to win
Globe and Mail-- Stampeders slip past Roughriders
Calgary Sun-- Stamps edge Riders
Calgary Herald--  Burris and Co. find way past Roughriders
Regina Leader Post-- Stampeders hand Riders third home defeat

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