Thursday, July 11, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 3

The CFL kicks off week number three in Toronto on Thursday, the first of the four games set for the weekend, with a solitary Friday night matchup on the sched followed by a Saturday double header.

Saskatchewan at Toronto (Thursday, July 11)

The Saskatchewan Roughriders seek to keep their undefeated status in place as they take on the Argonauts at Rogers Stadium.

A match up that will offer the Riders opportunity to show that they learned a few lessons from last weeks game with the Stamps which saw them seemingly only focused on one half of football.

Perhaps not unexpected early in the season, but CFL games for the most part so far have been two mini games in one, momentum shifts seemingly taking place at the half time point when coaches readdress their concerns and set a new course.

Likewise, the Argos need to put together a complete game, they had similar troubles as the Riders pop up in Vancouver last week, though in the case of the Double Blue they did not have a comeback to secure a victory in the second half.

Key to the Argos approach to Thursday night will be in getting their high octane offence untracked, as well as some attention to special teams.

For the Riders, the focus will be on consistency for both halves of football, that and keeping up with the roll that they have developed after successive victories over Edmonton and Calgary.

Some snippets of preview of Thursday nights game can be found below

Toronto Sun-- Argos need to get in line
Regina Leader Post-- Players remain focus of Riders, Argos co-ordinators Argos/Riders preview

Twelve Men Argo page
Twelve Men Rider page

Calgary at Montreal (Friday, July 12)

Two teams looking to bounce back from worrisome efforts of last week meet on Friday night in Montreal, the Stamps and Als, with many an issue to sort out look to change their direction in week number three.

The Als, who heard some uncharacteristic venting from their iconic QB last week following their loss to Winnipeg will try to all be on the same page once they kick off week three, all facets of the Als game plan seemed to be steeped in a bit of confusion last week, something noted by Anthony Calvillo in a now much discussed outburst post game.

While he was talking back some of his anger earlier this week, his thoughts on the Als effort of last week did highlight some of the frustrations for all in Montreal in the post Marc Trestman era of Alouette football.

Patience and a few wins as one time coach Doug Berry advised will cure many ills in Montreal, something that the Als will be working towards at Molson Stadium Friday.

For Calgary, the early season has provided for a number of challenges, the latest one being the loss of starter Drew Tate, who was forced out of last weeks loss to Saskatchewan due to injury and continues to recuperate, bringing Kevin Glenn back to starter status for Friday's game.

That may be the least of John Hufnagel's concerns in week three, Glenn is a proven pro, he knows the Stamps playbook as well as anyone and stepping in for Tate is probably less of a worry than many might think.

Where Hufnagel and his coaching staff may wish to address their thoughts will be with the defence which last week collapsed in the face of a Rider attack, most of it in the last thirty minutes of football.

That shellacking of the second half should serve as a wake up call for the Stamps Defensive unit to knuckle down and secure both halves of football.

Friday offers up the opportunity for both teams to show that they've learned from last week and have made the necessary adjustments, three hours of football at Molson will show which one studied harder in the run up to week number three.

A couple of key observations for Friday's game can be found below

Calgary Sun-- Stampeders QB hunters to set sights on Als veteran Calvillo
Montreal Gazette-- Als get chance to prove they can play defence Stamps/Als Preview

Twelve Men Stamps page
Twelve men Als page

Winnipeg at Hamilton (Saturday, July 13)

After last week's home season debut in Guelph, the Tiger Cats have a guy named Noah on standby, ready to launch the Ark just in case,  though we imagine that the Cats would prefer that Saturday afternoon at the ballpark be a much calmer affair, weather wise at any rate.

Week Number three brings the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, hot off a hard fought victory over Montreal last week into Alumni Stadium, their task to keep the Tiger Cats off the win side of the CFL ledger for another week.

The Cats have struggled out of the gate once again, turnovers at key times proving to be their undoing for the last two weeks of the 2013 season. No doubt a frustrating situation for Head coach/GM and Lord of all he surveys Kent Austin.

The Cats have generated some offence in the last two weeks, with 54 points on the board, however a defensive deficit of 69 points after 120 minutes highlights the struggles for Austin and his team, that and the turnovers, concerns that have provided for untimely interruptions to drives and taken away from scoring possibilities. Perhaps just the nature of a team learning to get on the same page early in the season, or maybe indicators of a larger issue to come.

Week three will tell Austin much about his squad and their ability to get back on track.

For the Bombers the third week of the season offers them to take yet two more points from their Eastern Division competition, a placement in the standings tables that will provide for benefit in October when it counts the most.

The Bombers were full value for their win in Montreal last week, their defensive unit made life quite difficult for Anthony Calvillo, no doubt a theme they will wish to revisit as they seek to make for another long and frustrating day for Henry Burris.

Last week produced an effective game for Buck Pierce, even if he wasn't involved in the two key offensive pushes that resulted in the Bombers win, for much of those drives it was Pierce at the helm leading the Bombers down field, the short yardage game (and subsequent touchdowns) turned over to back up Justin Goltz.

Perhaps a little frustrating for the starter to not get the final drive in, but clearly effective in the short term, mixing up the offence and with causing a bit of confusion for defenders, it may not be a long term plan (CFL defences will figure it out sooner rather than later) but in the early weeks, it's providing points and for a Bomber squad looking to build up some momentum, it's working.

Some observations prior to kick off can be found below.

Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers ready to roll up Ticats to win
Hamilton Spectator-- This is not a must-win game, but it sure comes close to that Bombers/TiCats Preview

Twelve Men Bombers page
Twelve Men TiCats page 

British Columbia at Edmonton (Saturday, July 13)

It's a reunion of sorts as the BC Lions arrive at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, a chance for some of the Leos to catch up with their former back up QB Mike, who is on a steep learning curve with the Eskimos as he takes the helm of the struggling Edmonton squad.

Reilly acquired the starters job in the pre-season when injury to Matt Nicholls reduced the competitive nature to the Eskimos camp, since then the Esks have been Reilly's team, though not without a few bumps along the way.

The quest to try and help the Eskimo fans get over the departure of Ricky Ray last year (the chorus of damn you Eric Tillman can still be heard in the stands Commonwealth) has been a hard one for the Green and Gold, the fond memories of Ray's time in Edmonton still part of the football culture in the Alberta capital.

A rough start to week one at the hands of ever present rival Saskatchewan didn't help matters, but an impressive bounce back in the monsoon rains of Guelph last week provides hope for Eskies fans that all may not be lost this year after all.

It may still be a rebuilding year for the Esks as the various pieces attempt to move in sync, but there are signs of both offensive and defensive units are beginning to find their place in Kavis Reed's big picture.

The task Saturday however isn't going to provide for a true test for Edmonton, the Lions roll into town with an impressive victory of their own under their belts from last week where they schooled the Argos (and that Ray fellow) for the majority of the game.

Injuries however are starting to provide for an impact on the Lions roster, both Adam Bighill and Shawn Gore will be out of the lineup owing to injury from last week's Argos game, Paris Jackson fills in for Gore, so there is some veteran comfort for Travis Lulay to call on, filling the shoes of Bighill will no doubt be the larger of challenges for head coach Mike Benevides.

With Saskatchewan running up to a 3-0 record, the pressure is already on the CFL West to try and keep up with the pace of the Riders, BC will be looking to keep nipping at the Riders heels with a victory at Commonwealth.

The winner of Saturday will be keeping the Riders in sight, the loser slips a little in the CFL West, a place where a few bad weeks in a row can prove fatal by November.

Some pre game thoughts can be found below.

Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos young-gun quarterback out to shoot holes in the B. C. Lions' defensive game plan
Vancouver Sun-- Lions turn once again to receiver Paris Jackson Lions/Eskimos preview

Twelve Men Lions Page
Twelve Men Eskimos Page 

The week two schedule, with Reviews from can be found below:

July 13-- British Columbia 17 at Edmonton 3 (31,310)
July 13-- Winnipeg 20 at Hamilton 25 (Guelph)  (13,085)
July 12-- Calgary 22 at Montreal 14 (23,184)
July 11-- Saskatchewan 39 at Toronto 28  (18,211)

All Games on TSN

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