Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Week Ten Review (ending September 5)

The Labour Day weekend provide any number of games described as "classic" but not all things we guess can meet up with such lofty goals.

Of the four games on tap over the four days of weekend revelry, none were particularly close, the lowest margin of victory the Lions win over the Argos and that one wasn't even close. Hamilton be thankful the Argos couldn't make it this year, even Ticat fans would have taken sympathy on their Argo cousins this year.

That's not to say that there weren't any surprises, or entertaining football to watch, as the reviews below with show, the Labour Day weekend may not have been classic football, but the results of the weekend's work certainly have made things interesting in both the CFL East and West.

British Columbia at Toronto

The Braley Bowl as it came to be called this weekend kicked off the Labour Day festivities and for the most part reinforce the notion that the Argonauts are in a lot of trouble, clearly the worst of the CFL this season with things seemingly heading in the wrong direction at a rapid clip.

The final score of 29 to 16 in favour of the Lions was actually a flattering score, so were the Argos dominated on Friday night

To start with the quarterback situation is a mess, neither Cleo Lemon, nor Dalton Bell it seems could throw a completed pass, interceptions made the Lions work easy on the night, a lack of offensive output leaving the sparse crowd at Rogers Centre with little to cheer for.

Lemon's shelf life was limited in Friday's game, lifted by Jim Barker after the first thirty minutes of football,
the Argos offence providing what Barker called "as poor an offensive performance that we've had since I've been here".

Bell provided little incentive that he had the answers, his first two passes went to Lion interceptor, two more would come by the end of the game, the combined Argo pass attack netting 99 yards.

The anemic Argo offence may be turned over to Steven Jyles next week, who comes off the injured list (though watching his fellow Argos, there must be some temptation to trip in the shower and seek an extension on the IR).

The Lions on the other hand seem to finally be stepping up towards what Wally Buono had hoped for at training camp, however success on Friday must be tempered in comparison to the opposition on the field.

Still, Travis Lulay had a fairly efficient day gaining yards and points seemingly at will, while the Lions defence shut down what little offence the Argos could generate, benefiting of course by the apparent affliction of colour deficiency, as the Argos threw frequently into the hands of the Lions  white and orange hued jerseys.

Improving their record to 3 and 6 moves the Lions up the ladder towards a potential playoff spot, a cause that could very well be assisted by the Argos one more time, Toronto travels to Vancouver this weekend for the rematch.

For the Argos the bottom is at hand, judging by Friday's game it's a place that they most likely will call home for the remainder of the season.

Vancouver Province-- B. C. Lions at home on the road
Vancouver Sun-- Lions 'All Sweat' Brown rushes over Argos
Toronto Sun-- It's just bad football
Globe and Mail-- Lulay steers Lions past Argos
National Post-- Argos' Lemon pulled in loss to Lions
Toronto Star-- Let the Argo QB competition begin - again

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan

They came into Regina with lots of swagger, but by the time that sixty minutes of football were done the Blue Bombers perhaps felt a little less boastful, a lot more beat up and tired and no doubt looking to make sure that the same result doesn't arrive in the weekend ahead.

The Labour Day Classic, wasn't so much of a shoot em out down to the last minute kind of game, though the Saskatchewan Roughriders under returning head coach Ken Miller got the shoot em out part down pretty good in their convincing 27 to 7 victory over the neighbours to the east.

Darian Durant in particular seems revitalized freed it seems from the yoke of Doug Berry's offensive planning, Durant had one of those signature games that Rider fans hope for, as dominating a performance as the Green and White have seen this year, providing for frequent refrains to be heard of "Green is the colour, football is the game".

No doubt Bomber head coach went into Regina with a few things on his mind, the return of Miller as a motivating factor for his competition and the scythe of defeat that the Riders provide for the Bombers on these annual Labour Day get togethers, a game which sees the results heavily set in favour of the hosts and their legion of fans at Mosaic field.

The Winnipeg defence which has been the most impressive of units for the first half of the season, seemed to have more than a few difficulties controlling the re-engerized Durant who frequently found receivers downfield, receivers who for this game anyways, managed to hold onto the ball for large gains and frequent points.

On the other side of the ball, the Bombers offence was shut down most effectively by the Riders, the front four and linebacking corps finding themselves able to pay their respects to Bomber QB Buck Pierce on a frequent basis, the defensive backs shutting the front door to the Rider end zone, holding the Blue to but seven points on the day, nowhere near enough to topple the Riders on this day.

The result of Sunday's match would seem to vindicate the Riders management for the moment, the change at the top of the coaching staff has provided for the desired result after one game, improving the record to 2 and 7 and lifting the Rider Nation to thoughts of a playoff run yet this year.

Of course there's a lot of football too come through the fall, but with Labour Day considered the official start of the drive for the Grey Cup the Riders and their fans are kicking off that drive with a confidence building success.

Across the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, they're breaking out the Banjos for the return match, but perhaps with a little less swagger now that they've been returned to earth after their remarkable start to the season.

The Labour Day classic may in the end prove to be a pivotal teaching moment for head coach Paul LaPolice, as good a reminder to his players that success and a Grey Cup won't come on a reputation, but as always with a dedication to hard work game in and game out.

Regina Leader Post-- Roughriders continue Labour Day dominance over Blue Bombers 
Winnipeg Sun-- Labour pains for Bombers
Winnipeg Free Press-- Black and Blue and Gold
Globe and Mail-- Riders cool off red-hot Bombers
National Post-- Riders win over Bombers marks new beginning

Montreal at Hamilton

Prior to the weekend Tiger Cat fans made no bones about it, they would much rather have had the rivals from down the road making the trek into Ivor Wynne on Monday afternoon, but perhaps after watching the Argonauts disintegrate live on television on Friday, even the notoriously biased Tiger Cat fan probably felt sympathy pains for the Big City members of the CFL firm.

Instead of the Double Blue, it was the Rouge, Blanc et Bleu of the Alouettes who took to the field on Labour Day, offering up what many thought would be an outstanding afternoon of football as there could be.

And for the first thirty minutes it was a fine bit of football, the Ticats stumbled out of the gate, a turnover sending the Alouettes to the scoreboard on a turnover on the first play of the game.  However, Hamilton kept it's poise and put that miscue behind them, as Kevin Glenn had an outstanding day despite the many hits he took to lead his team to the 44-21 victory.

The second half was all Hamilton as the defensive unit shut down the Alouettes rather convincingly, and the offence under Glenn continued to fire impressively, the Cats making a statement on Labour Day that they still have thoughts of first place in the East and that the defending Grey Cup champs weren't going to get in the way of them on Monday.

The win like a victory over the Als earlier in the season, should provide for a fair bit of confidence for the Cats heading into the drive for the playoffs, for Montreal it's another slip down the ladder in a season that has sent he team have strong victories and worrisome defeats, a trend that could threaten their hold as defending Grey Cup champions

Hamilton Spectator-- Cats two headed monster in great form against Als
Globe and Mail-- Tiger Cats stick it to Alouettes
Toronto Sun-- Thank God it wasn't the Argonauts
Canada.com-- Marc Trestman goes down with the ship
National Post-- Ticats clobber reeling Alouettes

Edmonton at Calgary

Those Calgary fans that defaced the bulletin board outside of McMahon Stadium prior to the Alberta showdown of Monday must be feeling rather silly at the moment, the way the Eskimos handled the hometown Stamps in the Alberta version of the Labour Classics, there was more than a bit of truth in advertising to be seen after all.

The Eskimos who had struggled through August, bounced back with a flourish on Monday with a statement making victory of 35-7. The Esks spent the sixty minutes taking the play to the Stamps on both offence and defence, in the end sending starting quarterback Henry Burris to the Stampeder sidelines for good in the second half, serenaded by a chorus of boos from the McMahon Stadium faithful, leaving up to interpretation in the post game comments if that sendoff was appreciated by the Stamps starter or if he was just angry at himself.

The change of QBs didn't really change the dynamic of a strong effort from the Northern Albertans, who treated back up Drew Tate much the same as they did Burris, frequently rushing his pass attempts, sending him scrambling for his life at times and shutting down any forward momentum that he might have had in mind.

It was as complete a game as the Esks could provide for, Ricky Ray was back in that same form that sent the Eskimos off to such a fast start in July, provided with plenty of time to set plays in motion, his passes found their targets time and time again, the Eskimos running game blew through the Stampeder line gaining yards and first downs as desired.

Defensively, the Esks provided a spanking that will resonate in the Stampeder locker room through the week and right up until kick off at the return match in Calgary on Friday.

TSN provided a glimpse inside the Eskimo dressing room from the pre game speech time period, a stemwinder from coach Kavis Reed that clearly hit home with his players. Should football eventually disappoint Reed, we suspect there's a strong career ahead in motivational speaking, at least judging  but the result that his words had on his players and how they delivered on them through until the final seconds ticked off the clock.

That potential career change however may be a ways off, the Eskimos if Monday is any indication are back,  the thought that Calgary's was going to march off to first place now seems more than a little in doubt.

Setting the scene for some frantic and entertaining fall football in the CFL West.

Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos defence comes up big against Stamps to snap 3 game skid
Edmonton Sun-- 35-7: Esks D wins the day
Calgary Herald-- Stamps suffer Labour Day pains
Calgary Sun-- Burris couldn't save the Stamps
Globe and Mail-- Eskimos carve up Stamps in Battle of Alberta
National Post-- Eskimos run roughshod

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