Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week Four Review

Week Four once again delivered for the Rider Nation, as a convincing win over the Hamilton Tiger Cats kept the Riders as the cream of the CFL crop for yet another week.

Elsewhere its shaping up to be an early season of concern, with struggles in Montreal and Winnipeg, injury concerns in Toronto and Calgary and a growing frustration in Hamilton and Edmonton.

Leaving but British Columbia at the moment as a team that may yet mount a challenge for the league leading Riders.

The reviews of the week that was below.

Toronto at Winnipeg

The Toronto Argonauts Ricky Ray put on a quarterbacking clinic in Winnipeg on Friday evening, highlighting a stats package that found him 19 of 20 and throwing for 286 yards on the night, connecting for two TD passes before and here's the more important fact of the night, before having to leave the game with an injury.

Joining him in the training room post game was running back Chad Kackert who also suffered an injury during the course of the Friday night game, twin injuries that make the two points collected at the expense of the Blue Bombers an incidental fact for the game.

The only silver lining in the twin injuries, the Argos have over a week off to heal up, time that will be required should the injuries prove to be of a serious nature, not enough time if they are of the variety that take a portion of the season to heal.

The Argos had an easy time of it against the Bombers, the 35 to 19 score perhaps a bit flattering to the home side, which once again delivered a bit of a smelly egg for the huge crowd at the shiny new ball park.

Injuries again stalked the Blue Bombers, with (stop us if you've heard this one before) Buck Pierce sent to the sidelines with an injury to his upper torso, leaving the Bombers offence in the hands of Justin Goltz for the remainder of the second half and while Goltz did put together some drives to keep the Bombers in the game, the ongoing concern over the QB position seems to be the never ending circle of hell for Bombers fans.

Toronto will continue to hold sway over the upper reaches of the CFL East as long as they can keep Ray, Kackert and their offensive weapons healthy for the entire season, the distance between first and last growing by the week while Winnipeg, Montreal and Hamilton continue to struggle.

For Winnipeg, the only salvation to what is already shaping up as a frustrating season is the fact that three of their four competitors for playoffs spots are equally woeful, not exactly a standard of excellence to thrill the fans with.

The review of the week four opener can be found at

Montreal at Calgary

For thirty minutes of football it appeared that the Montreal Alouettes had exorcised every one of their demons from the first few weeks of the 2013, the first two halves of football a showcase of all that many remember the Alouettes for.

Anthony Calvillo was on fire, the offence in sync with their leader and piling up the points on what appeared to be a shell shocked Calgary Stampeder defence, Montreal's defensive unit made life as miserable for Kevin Glenn all of which resulted in a 24 - 0 lead for the Als at the half.

And then... well, it would seem it's too bad that they took the break.

The second half provided for as epic a collapse as you could ever find in recent CFL history, whatever John Hufnagel said to his team at the half clearly resonated with the Stamps, the final thirty minutes of football providing for a turn around of 38 points.

Calgary sent the Als home seriously discouraged at their fate and perhaps at their future, the destruction of the Alouettes defensive unit in those final two quarters the strongest signal yet as to just how bad the Als are this year and a collapse that seems to have stirred on the demands that something has to change in Montreal quickly.

While the impressive comeback provided some push back for the Stamps, Saturdays victory did come with a cost,  Kevin Glenn was injured in the third quarter forced from the game, turning the ball over to the third spot on the Stamps depth chart at the moment, Bo Levi Mitchell, receiver Brad Sinopoli may want to take some reps this week as well, as you just never know who may be forced into action.

The Stamps are waiting to see how the recovery process moves for their QB position, original starter in week one Drew Tate is on the mend, though no one is sure if he's ready to take control again just yet. Glenn's injury is kind of a mysterious thing at the moment, the Stamps not inclined to say too much about it, all of which could make Mitchell the go to guy when the Stamps kick it off on Friday in Winnipeg.

The Stamps also found themselves in the midst of a bit of a CFL controversy as part of the Saturday night game, a field goal attempt, one that would have put him into elite record territory for placekickers in the CFL, was blocked, seemingly bringing his quest for most successful consecutive field goals to an end.

But, it appears that the CFL with a few quirks to their rules doesn't consider a blocked attempt as an attempt, a confusing little bit of rule making, that leaves the Calgary kicker still in the hunt for a record on Friday.

It was just one of the three main take aways from the Stamps and Als game, the others being the nature of an unexpected Stampeder comeback and Alouette implosion making for the bulk of the reviews of week four.

A recap of the Als and Stamps can be found at

Edmonton at British Columbia

The BC Lions went 2 for 2 in their back to back matches with the Edmonton Eskimos, Saturday night in BC Place providing for a powerful offensive display for the hometown fans and helping keep the Lions on the heels of the undefeated Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL West.

Travis Lulay had a strong night completing 18 of 24 passes for 284 yards, connecting for one TD on the way to the Lions 31 to 21 victory over the Eks, it was also another showcase game for Andrew Harris who carried the ball 17 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns for the Leos.

The Eskimos struggles on defence clearly were still there, the young team still seeking to find some balance in a season that is offering up a number of issues that need to be addressed before forward momentum will be found.

The Esks are at 1 and 3 on the year so far, and beyond the rebuilding woes for the team, on field discipline is proving to be a bit of a concern as penalties and untimely turnovers continue to prove troublesome for Edmonton.

A tendency to fall apart in the third quarter is also something that head coach Kavis Reed is going to have to address, for the majority of the Eskimos games this year, the third quarter has provided for the turning point in the wrong direction, it's in those fifteen minutes that the opposition finds its most success, in the most part putting Edmonton away before  the 4th even begins.

The Lions on the other hand seem to have begun to get the hang of their road ahead, a nice mix of pass and run spurs the offence on, while defensively British Columbia is making opposing teams work for each yard, pay the price for points that they may score inside the Lions redzone.

Considering the start that the Saskatchewan Roughriders have enjoyed, the early season games may just play as large a role in the rush for playoff spots as the final month of the season normally does, towards that theme the Lions are keeping pace and keeping their focus on a run for first place. 

The Esks on the other hand will have to review what's gone wrong and begin to claw their way back into contention, as things are shaping up after four weeks of play, the Esks may find that the only way into a playoff spot is via the crossover route to the East playoffs, where the woeful Eastern teams give some hope for Eskimo fans.

The Lions/Esks review can be found at

Hamilton at Saskatchewan 

They are the class of the CFL so far in 2013 and judging by the total dominance that they seem to employ on the field, the Riders may carry this momentum all the way through to the Grey Cup, which Regina hosts in November.

Week number four once again provided a total team concept from the Riders, who easily tossed aside the Hamilton Tiger Cats on the way to their 37 to 0 shutout of the Tabbies.

Dariant Durant who many thought would be on the sidelines for the game, instead put on yet another impressive performance, throwing 32 passes, connecting on 20 of them for 347 yards, putting four of them into the hands of receivers for touchdowns.

Kory Sheets, who seems to want to wrap up the Most Outstanding Player balloting before Labour Day once again rambled for over 100 yards, picking up 130 yards on 24 carries.

Even Geroy Simon got in on the action, the high profile Rider acquisition from the off season saw his first action of the regular season  grabbing 2 passes for 38 yards part of a strong aerial attack that features Rob Bagg, Weston Dresler and Taj Smith all of whom collected passes to roll up the stats.

Defensively the Riders are turning into a Legion of Doom, teams not only have troubles scoring, but just gaining traction is proving to be troublesome under a withering Rider rush. just ask Henry Burris for confirmation, the Ti Cat QB found that time was of the essence as the Riders flooded the TiCat backfield, much to the enjoyment of the Rider faithful who cheered on every moment as Burris scrambled for his life.

The TiCats offence continued to struggle to gain points, a recurring theme so far in 2013, but as worrisome as that may be, of more immediate concern is the nature of the TiCat defence which seems incapable at the moment of shutting down their competition, having surrendered a league leading 126 points.

For Kent Austin, the return to the field where he found some of his greatest CFL glory surely didn't deliver the kind of result he had hoped for, as it turned out he along with the 30,000 plus in the stands would be observers to a finely tuned machine in Green, one which heading into August is looking to be the CFL's team to beat in 2013.

The review of the week four finale can be found here.

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