Tuesday, July 16, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week Three Review

Week Three gave Rider nation one more week to strut across the land, Saskatchewan remaining undefeated as the third week of CFL play came to an end, elsewhere the fans perhaps are a little more concerned.

Montreal continued to struggle, Toronto's defensive unit clearly needs a bit of work and those Edmonton's fans that sat through the monsoon rains at Commonwealth probably had wished they'd stayed somewhere nice and dry when week three came to an end.

The reviews of the week that was below.

Saskatchewan at Toronto

The Riders remained the CFL's sole undefeated team at the end of week number three, registering a convincing 39-28 victory over the Toronto Argonauts, in front of a small crowd at Rogers Centre that at times seemed to feature a fair amount of green among the mix.

It was the Darian Durant show for Saskatchewan as the Rider QB put on an impressive display, one that serves to remind the CFL and perhaps more importantly TSN, that there are other quarterbacks in the league not named Ricky Ray.

Durant was 14 for 19 for 245 yards, tossing three TD passes before injury sent him to the sidelines, giving way to Drew Willy for the remainder of the game in the fourth quarter.

When CFL fans weren't marvelling at the passing accuracy of Durant they were mesmerized by the running of Kory Sheets, he had his third straight 100 yard game picking up 2 touchdowns in the 26 times he was handed the ball, by games end Sheets had accumulated 178 yards rushing.

The stats package for Durant and Sheets alone tells you much about the dominance of the Riders over the Argos, who held their own for the first quarter but the Riders grabbed control of the game in the second and built upon that through the third and fourth quarter.

While the scoreboard didn't indicate it much, Argo QB Ricky Ray had some decent numbers, though the finishing aspect in the end zone was lacking for the Argos on Friday night.

With the Riders building up their lead as the game moved into the final stages of the fourth, the Argos turned the final moments of the fourth quarter into a learning situation.

The Argos building a bit of confidence in the final frame to bring the score a little closer as backup QB Zach Collaros led an impressive drive downfield. Though we imagine any thoughts of usurping Ray as the Argos starter probably don't last much beyond the day dream stage for the young understudy.

The Riders head home for week four the talk of the CFL, the only issue of concern the status of Durant, the most recent diagnosis being that x rays had come back as negative, with rehab on the schedule for the Riders Starter with hopes of being ready for Sunday's home game with the

You can review the CFL.ca recap of the game here.

Calgary at Montreal

Week two offered up a bounce back week for two CFL teams but only one found some bouncing in Montreal, as the Calgary Stampeders took advantage of another struggling performance on the offensive side of the ball for the Alouettes.

The Stamps surrendered an early lead to Montreal who gave the appearance that they had solved their offensive woes with an impressive first quarter drive that propelled them to  the end zone and the early lead, however, the Stamps quickly shored up their defensive ways, making the rest of the night a most miserable experience for Anthony Calvillo and the Als.

There was a bit of rust for Kevin Glenn to shake off after taking charge of the offence for Drew Tate who was injured last week, but once he found some pace Glenn had a successful outing in his return to starters duties.

When the final gun had sounded Glenn had put together a nice stats package for review, 22 of 28 in passing, with 268 yards in the air and most importantly his team featuring 22 points on the scoreboard as opposed to the Alouettes 14.

While the Stamps QB was busy getting his game plan in place, the Als were going in the other direction, Montreal's offensive line clearly had troubles holding back the Stampeder attack, when Anthony Calvillo wasn't being sacked (twice), he was busy scrambling for his life, something that does tend to make the playbook options rather limited.

Even more concerning than the lack of protection, was the inability of Montreal to keep their drives alive, at one stretch recording three consecutive two and outs, the Als QB fumbled once and was  intercepted once in a frustrating sixty minutes.  Overall, the Als turned over the ball four times before the Stamps went home with the win.

The Als QB touched on that inconsistency in his post game comments, though he was more measured in his commentary after game two than he was in game number one, however, many of his concerns of game one were reprised against the Stamps, showcasing the work ahead for the Als to try and turn around what is shaping up to be a rather tough year.

You can pick up the full review of the Stamps victory over the Als from the CFL.ca recap.

Winnipeg at Hamilton

The weather was certainly more agreeable for the crowd (and the players for that matter) last week's torrential rains that washed through Guelph long gone, giving way to a bright sun filled afternoon at Alumni Field, all that was missing was a win for the home side Ti Cats and the day would be a perfect family outing, by the time sixty minutes had passed the temporary home side team had delivered.

Henry Burris shook off the disappointments of the past two weeks with a rather impressive performance Saturday as his Ti Cats held off the Blue Bombers, claiming the first victory of the young CFL season for the Guelph based Cats a 25-20 victory over Winnipeg.

Burris through for 362 yards and ran for another 47 as the Cats battled the Bombers back and forth through four quarters, a half time score of 13-12 for the Blue indicative as to how close the two teams were through the first thirty, with the second half providing much of the same.

The Bombers built much of their success on the day on the legs of Chad Simpson who rambled for 100 yards on five carries in the first half alone, yet for all the passing and the running, it would be the kickers that provided a fair amount of the entertainment, as drives stalled and field goals exchanged.

Things finally broke in the third when Henry Burris altered the CFL history books,  with  a third quarter passing play to fullback John Delahunt for a touchdown, beyond the seven points on the board for  25-13 lead, the touchdown moved Burris into a tie with Matt Dunnigan on the all time TD passing list, both Burris and Dunnigan have 306.

The Bombers launched a bit of comeback, narrowing the lead to five points, but the Stamps would seal the win with some great clock management and successive first downs, the Bombers reduced to spectators by the end of the game.

The full review of the Bombers and Cats can be found at CFL.ca.

British Columbia at Edmonton

The Eskimos training and equipment staff are probably wondering if perhaps a mega order of water wings should not be in the budget for Eskimo football this week, with the Eskimos playing their second game of the year in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable for July.

With the Esks perhaps not even dried out from last weeks deluge in Guelph, they took to the field at Commonwealth in a driving rain storm, one which didn't seem to let up until the late stages of the fourth quarter, not good for an offence that has struggled much this season and as the first half stats showcased not good for the usual high octane offence that the CFL is known for.

The poor weather played havoc with the game plan for both squads, indicated by the 3-1 half time lead that the Esks carried into the dressing room after thirty minutes.  Those three Eskimo points a gift of sorts from the Lions who had attempted a third and short gamble only to have the ball come lose giving the Eskies some fine field position which they translated into their three points, as things would turn out the only points they would have on the night.

The Lions finally generated some offence in the third quarter with Travis Lulay leading a nine play drive down field capped by a toss to Emmanuel Arceneaux for 12 yard touchdown pass, the Lions followed up that drive with another shortly after with Andrew Harris taking a backfield pass into the end zone  building up the Lions lead to 15-3, the Lions picked up two more points with a safety late in the fourth, marking the final score of 17-3.

It was another frustrating night out for Esks QB Mike Reilly, who with nasty weather proving to be as large an obstacle as defending units, though the Eskimos offensive line will need to provide better protection should the Esks hope to keep their offensive unit on the field for any length of time.

And considering some of the defensive woes of late, giving the Defensive unit some rest would be most beneficial for the Green and Gold. The Eskimo defensive unit is spending far too much time on the field, getting worn down and making mental mistakes.

Another concern for head coach Kavis Reed will be the undisciplined play of some of his players, once again untimely penalties proved troublesome for Edmonton, moving them out of field position and giving the Lions opportunity to keep control of the ball.

With the Esks 1 for 2 in back to back monsoon games, we imagine they are looking forward to Saturday night in Vancouver, where the field will be dry and the opportunity to return the favour of a home field loss will present itself in week four.

The CFL.ca review of Saturday night's week three finale can be found here.

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