Thursday, July 25, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 5

The usually compact schedule of weekend football that the CFL normally features gets a bit of a stretch for week number five, with games stretching from Thursday through to next Tuesday, the Alouettes hosting the week five kick off, while the Argos will bookend the week on Tuesday when they host eh Lions.

The previews of the six day work week can be found below.

Edmonton at Montreal (Thursday, July 25)
(7:30 PM ET, 5:30 MT, 4:30 ET)

Two teams that really need to sort things out quickly meet in Montreal on Thursday, night as the still trying to find their way Eskimos meet up with the imploding Alouettes, the loser set to hold title as team in most distress after five weeks of football.

The Eskimos have proven to be their own worst enemies at times, miscues, mental mistakes and very untimely penalties have wreaked havoc on any of head coach Kavis Reed's plans, his now Internet famous slow burn on YouTube indicative as to just how concerned the head coach is at the focus of his players.

Montreal as well has a problem with keeping things moving in a forward momentum, a sudden glimpse of hope last week in the first half of their visit to Calgary all came crashing down to earth in the final thirty minutes when Calgary not only swarmed back to erase a 24 point deficit but seemed to crush the will of the Alouettes to compete, perhaps a more dangerous thing than any account on a score board.

So, it's with that narrative that week five will get underway, two teams trying to find their way, already falling behind in the early stages of the CFL season and showing no indication that any kind of turn around is imminent.

Once upon a time a Montreal / Edmonton match up was a thing of legend for CFL fans, past Grey Cups a historical point in the CFL's archives, 2013 offers up a very different vision of that storied rivalry, which for now isn't so much about the past as it is about where the two teams wish to go in the immediate future.

A quick look at the key points for Thursday night can be found below.

Montreal Gazette-- Much penalized Als facing big test
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos, Alouettes find themselves in the same sinking boat Eskimos/Alouettes preview

Twelve Men Eskimo page
Twelve Men Alouette page

Calgary at Winnipeg (Friday, July 27)
(7 PM CT, 8 ET, 6 MT, 5 PT)

What's needed for the Friday night football showcase is someone with a Ouija board, so as to better advise us as to which Quarterback will stand behind a centre once the Bombers and Stamps kick it off at Investors Group Field.

Both the Stampeders and Bombers are working their way down the depth charts (and in some cases back up again) as they try to fill in holes at the pivotal position for any offence.

The Stamps have seen Drew Tate go down in the early stages of the 2013 season, followed by Kevin Glenn last week, sending us to scour the listings to find Bo Levi Mitchell,  who took on the quarterback duties last week for Calgary and may be the go to guy Friday, depending on how the convalescence of Mr. Tate has come along.

Across the field the Bombers spent much of the week trying to figure out if the already much injured Buck Pierce has another game, half, oh maybe even a quarter perhaps to give in week five.  Late this week Buck said he was ready to go, the coach seemingly not quite on board, so it is anticipated that Justin Goltz gets the nod to carry the Bombers hopes and desires for a home field win to christen the new stadium in victory for the home town fans.

So far in two regular season starts, the home town fans have gone home disappointed and a little bewildered at the state of their squad and how 2013 is starting to resemble 2012 in any number of ways, the majority of them on the injury lists.

Caught up in the sub plots of the quarterback concerns is the fact that Rene Paredes, the Stamps field goal kicker has a chance to grab a share of the record books tonight with but one field goal, a record that is back within his grasp despite a blocked kick of last week against Montreal, by quirk of CFL rules, a blocked kick is not attempt so Paredes is good to go for the record, strange as many seem to find it all.

Beyond that, the themes of holding a lead, or at least not surrendering too many points will be of concern to both squads, Calgary's remarkable comeback last week should not deflect focus on the fact that they gave up 24 points in the first half, a trend that head coach John Hufnagel will wish to bring to an end we imagine.

Likewise, the Bombers will be looking to adding points to the scoreboard, while holding the Stamps back, defensively the Blue are holding their own,  about middle of the pack of defensive stats. Offensively thought they need to pick up the pace, at the moment hosting the second worst points for record in the league, with only the struggling Hamilton Tiger Cats to keep them from the CFL basement.

The Stamps will be looking to keep pace with the Saskatchewan Roughriders,  who currently rule the roost in the CFL West with a perfect record of 4 and 0.

Calgary holds a 3 -1 record heading into week five, the Bombers 1 and 3, the task of reversing that trend the main focus for Friday night.

Calgary Sun-- Simpson, Cornish should see ball plenty in Stampeders-Bombers tilt
Winnipeg Free Press-- Goltz gets the ball -- we knew that -- but the question is, will he keep it? Bombers/Stampeders preview

Twelve Men Bomber page
Twelve Men Stampeder page

Saskatchewan at Hamilton (Saturday, July 27)
(7:30 PM ET, 6:30 ST, 4:30 PT)

The second half of a back to back for the Riders and the Cats arrives on Saturday, the hometown Tabbies (well as home town as a trip down the road to Guelph can provide for) looking to make amends for their performance of last week in Regina.

Week four was not kind to Hamilton, the Riders laid bare all of the Tiger Cat shortcomings for 2013, a defensive unit that is struggling to say the least and an offensive unit that while loaded with talented players, has yet to make its mark where it counts in points on a scoreboard.

Saskatchewan enters week five looking to not only carry forward their momentum thus far, but to secure undefeated status for yet another week.

The Riders have simply been the Best of the CFL in their early season work, dominating on both sides of the ball, Darian Durant even when hobbled by injury has been simply amazing in his ability to pick apart opposing defensive units. When the time for a run arrives, which in the first four weeks has been fairly regular, Kory Sheets takes the rock and runs it and runs it and runs it, his stats package for 2013 setting the pace for trophies by November.

For the Riders, the pieces are such, that those that step in when required, just carry on with the overall plan, a process that may be in place on Saturday as concerns over Durant continue with Drew Willy ready to fill in if required, with hardly a blip for the Riders game plan expected.

Hamilton on the other hand is once again an enigmatic squad, while they rebuild a new stadium in Steeltown, the product on the field appears destined for renovation as well. Kent Austin looking to find the right combinations that will begin to turn a growing sense of unease in Hamilton that rather than going forward, the Cats are heading backwards.

Perhaps understandable with a new GM and coach at the controls, but for TiCat fans whether in the stands in Guelph or back home in Hamilton, the omens thus far suggest that 2013 may be a year of frustration.

Trying to turn it all around is tough enough at the best of times, but having to go back to back against what has become the CFL's signature squad for 2013, is a task that may be a little beyond the grasp of the Cats at this point.

Maybe by November they'll have more to say, but they'll have to make it that far to stake out a playoff spot, the one thing in their favour a once again quite weak Eastern Division where second place is still within sight and with a quick retool and some forward momentum first may yet be a possibility.

The road there however will require focus and delivery on the field, something which has been inconsistent to say the least thus far.

A look ahead to a Saturday evening in Guelph can be found below.

Regina Leader Post-- Taman's critics silenced
Hamilton Spectator-- Time for Ticats to make a 'statement' Riders/Tiger Cats preview

Twelve Men on the Field Riders page
Twelve Men on the Field Tiger Cats page

British Columbia at Toronto (Tuesday, July 30)
(7:30 ET, 4:30 PT)

The Lions and Argos bring the curtain down on week number five, an extended deadline for the fifth week of football, a rare Tuesday game which has provided the Lions with a ten day break as it all turns out, making them well rested for the game.

Providing the Lions offence a good opportunity to continue to work out the few mis-communications over the first four weeks, Lions QB Travis Lulay has looked very comfortable at the helm of the BC offence, gaining confidence in young receivers and making a good mix of his running and passing game.

The task will be on the Argos defence Tuesday, to make sure that the Lions don't gain any early momentum, getting to Lulay on a regular basis and disrupting the Lions full approach to the Tuesday game plan.

The Bad news for the Argos, who in addition to taking on a refreshed Lions squad will have to do so without starting quarterback Ricky Ray, who sits out tonights game, providing Zach Collaros with his CFL debut as a starter.

A tough road for the Argo youngster, going up against one of the CFL's top defensive units.

It has been a week for the understudies across the league, Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan all used the number two spot on the depth chart to fill in for injured starters, with Calgary and Saskatchewan having particular success with back up plans in effect.

Watching carefully as all the understudies have taken to the field will be the scouting and managerial staff of the Ottawa RedBlacks, who will be looking to fill out roster positions next year, judging by the recent success of the number two's (and in some cases the number three's) the QB spot may be one of their lesser concerns for 2014.

Toronto Sun-- Argonauts' QB Collaros faces tough odds in debut
Vancouver Province-- Rich Stubler: Lions defensive genius mutes his praise

Lions/Argos preview fro

The week five schedule, with Reviews from can be found below

July 30-- British Columbia 12 at Toronto 38 (20,064)
July 27-- Saskatchewan 32 at Hamilton 20   (13,002)
July 26-- Calgary 37 at Winnipeg 24 (31,567)
July 25-- Edmonton 27 at Montreal 32 (23,021)

All Games on TSN

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