Friday, August 16, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 8

It's back to work for the full congregation this weekend, the CFL bye weeks now complete, the rush towards the first benchmark of the CFL season, Labour Day is now on.

Week eight debuts with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the home of controversy in the first half of the CFL season turning a new chapter in this season's playbook, having dismissed their GM and CEO last week, the new era for Blue Bomber football begins Friday night.

Elsewhere week eight offers the Saskatchewan Roughriders a chance for a bounce back from last week's loss in Calgary, as the Alouettes (a team with their own bit of drama) arrive in town.

Saturday, a western showdown brings Calgary into Vancouver to take on the Lions in what could be as important a CFL west game as there has been thus far in the years.

The weekend wraps with the struggling Edmonton Eskimos taking on the Argos in Toronto, the Double Blue looking to keep pushing their lead atop the CFL east, no doubt keeping a watchful eye on their fellow Easterners as they travel the west this weekend.

A look at week eight can be found below.

Hamilton at Winnipeg (Friday, August 16)
(7:00 PM CT, 5:00 PT, 8 PM ET)

The house cleaning is underway in Winnipeg, as the Bombers Board started to make changes that have been long considered overdue by much of the faithful.

The new era is revealed tonight, when the Bombers play host to the Tiger Cats, two teams with rather similar story lines this season, though in Hamilton there doesn't seem to be any danger for GM/Coach/Lord of All he Surveys  Kent Austin, who no doubt will be given a few years to figure how to turn around the Tiger Cats.

For the Bombers, Turn around day came last week with the dismissal of the teams CEO Garth Buchko and General Manager Joe Mack, leaving head coach Tim Burke to deal with all of the fall out for the rest of the season, while Acting GM Kyle Walters looks to stem the discontent, show a new direction and maybe secure the GM's job as a full time gig once November comes to an end.

The Bombers are a team in serious disarray as the 2013 campaign moves into the key months of September and October, whether the firing of upper management  will be enough to change the culture quickly remains to be seen, still for many of the fans in the seats it's a good start.

While the Bombers all try to get back on the same page, the Tiger Cats their opposition on Friday, will be looking to take advantage of all that baggage, looking to turn around their own season which would seem to be the dictionary definition of inconsistent.

For a team that many felt was ready to take the next step in June, the first two months of the CFL season have clearly been a disappointment, missed opportunities have highlighted the Cats season thus far.

One which has seen Hamilton's offence misfire at key times, while the defence has likewise not been able to shut a door when required most.

A look at the rosters of the two teams should give the Cats fans a bit of hope, if Austin can ever get everyone wearing Yellow and Black in sync, then the 2013 season could yet provide a reward for the Ti-Cats fans.

Friday in Winnipeg would seem to be as good a place as any to get that process underway.

A quick look at the debut of week seven can be found below.

Hamilton Spectator-- Blue Bombers desperate for a win after tumultuous week
Winnipeg Free Press--  Time for talk is over, now it's time to win Hamilton/Winnipeg preview

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

Montreal at Saskatchewan (Saturday, August 17)
(2 PM ST, 4 PM ET, 1 PM PT)

If the Riders first loss of the season last week in Calgary shook a bit of faithful of the gathering of Mosaic Field, it won't be seen on Saturday, as the Riders announced that their Week 8 match up with the Alouettes is already a sell out.  All 40,637 seats will be filled when the Riders take to the field, anxious to get back on the winning track and with a struggling Montreal Alouette team as the opposition, the home fans may just go home happy by dinner time.

The Al who launched the latest of the Jim Popp eras last week with a less than successful effort against the Argos, will find the work load that much harder as they take on the CFL's best team in the first seven weeks of CFL action.

Montreal's troubles are a lengthy list of items, offensive woes, defensive struggles, special teams miscues, there's not much on the bright side for the Als to focus on so far in 2013.

And for those Montreal fans who channel surf, watching Marc Trestman's successful debut with the Chicago Bears is surely only making the season of turmoil that much more difficult to watch.

That's a situation that is the complete opposite of what the Rider Nation is focused on so far in 2013, though last week's loss to the Stamps should serve as a handy wake up call for the Green machine that focus needs to be directed each and every week.

The chase for the perfect season came to an end at McMahon last week, the Stamps more than convincing as they (or to be precise) Jon Cornish ran all over them, a moment for teaching perhaps that the Riders staff will no doubt have made the most of in the week leading up to today's Montreal match up.

And while that loss did show that the Riders are indeed mortal, there should not be any sense of concern just yet in Riderville, theirs is still a pretty solid team, equally effective on both sides of the ball.

Combine that with 40 thousand plus of the league's most involved fan base and Montreal's trip west this weekend may be yet another disappointing journey through the schedule of 2013.

A look ahead to Saturday afternoon on the prairie can be found below:

Montreal Gazette-- Doug Berry's work to turn Alouettes' offence around continues
Regina Leader Post-- Riders' Chris Getzlaf making most of chances

CFL. ca Alouettes/Riders preview

Twelve Men on the Field Alouettes page
Twelve Men on the Field Riders page

Calgary at British Columbia (Saturday, August 17)
(6 PM PT, 7 MT, 9 ET)

The marquee showdown for week 8 will be found at BC Place, as the Lions and Stamps get set to renew acquaintances with BC looking to pick up two points on the Calgarians and grab their own share of second and maybe first (depending on events in Regina earlier in the day).

The CFL West is once again where the action is, the Stamps, Riders and Lions among the top of the CFL this year so far, with only Toronto in the East looking for a share of the accolades this year.

Calgary heads into BC Place with a fair bit of momentum on their side after their convincing victory over the Riders last week, a win which derailed the Riders domination of the West for a week, offering an indication to both Calgary and the Lions that the west will most likely go right down to the final week of the season for playoff placement.

The Lions have found their groove with Travis Lulay directing the Lions attack that makes use of a number of options, defensively thee Lions have been rather stingy this year with the third best defensive record in the league heading into week 8.

It's a defensive unit that will be tested by a Stamps attack that clearly hit its mark last week, making use of Jon Cornish's running skills, Calgary provided a mixed offence that still allowed Cornish to pick up an astounding four TD's against the Riders, the team that has the best defensive record in the league.

Calgary found the holes in the Riders D and on Saturday, they'll no doubt be looking for a similar entry into the Lions backfield.

The Lions will be mindful of their previous experience with Mr. Cornish and the Stamps, which saw the Calgary squad dominate the Lions on the way to 44-32 victory at McMahon Stadium, that will be something that the Lions will be looking to reverse in front of what is expected to be a large crowd at BC Place on Saturday night.

Stopping Cornish will be a key to the game for the Lions, the Stamps running back is having a pretty good run of it (pardon the pun) this season thus far, challenging Kory Sheets in Saskatchewan almost step by step, yard for yard for the Most Outstanding Player title by season's end.

The Stamps running back, one of the most explosive threats in recent CFL history will be looking to keep his remarkable running game on a roll, as tough a task for a CFL defence as there is.

The Lions head into Saturday with one change to the roster and a sad note for fans of facial hair, as kicker Hugh O'Neill was released this week, the man with the best beard in football (and one who surely could make a few dollars with a Shick endorsement) struggled with his time in the Lions den and is now a free agent, the Lions and O'Neill were not able to come to terms on an option year.

The move means the Lions will be relying on Paul McCallum for all aspects of the Lions kicking game.

The look ahead to Saturday night's showdown with the Stamps can be found below:

Calgary Herald-- Soaring Stamps prepare to face hungry Lions
Vancouver Sun-- Lions will have some defensive 'wrinkles' for Stampeders Stampeders/Lions preview

Twelve Men on the Field Stamps page
Twelve Men on the Field Lions page

Edmonton at Toronto (Sunday, August 18)
(7 PM ET, 5 MT, 4 PT)

The Argos look to increase their lead in the CFL East as week number eight comes to an end, with the Double Blue taking on the Eskimos at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

A game that offers up the opportunity for Eskimo fans to once again, shake their fists at the sky and issue the ultimate of curse words for football fans in the Alberta capital, that of Tillman...

The  east-west match up once again, brings us the always present reminder that Ray does seem to enjoy playing his former squad of late. A topic that still haunts the Eskimo fan base, who still have many questions regarding his departure from Edmonton. Each return match a reminder for one and all,  that it wasn't his idea to make the move east, but now that he's in Toronto, well, one Grey Cup ring later he's surely making the best of it all.

The defending Grey Cup champs have had a fairly easy go of it so far in the East, the competition in the division hasn't been particularly efficient in the first eight weeks of play, the Argos easily building up a lead atop the East compared to their division mates.

Add into the mix that Argo QB Ricky Ray is looking as though he's already in post season form and it's a formidable task for anyone heading into Toronto these days to try to knock off the champs.

This week that task falls to the Eskimos, a team that has it's own set of worries, rivalling the concerns of such teams as Montreal and Winnipeg, with the first seven weeks already passing them by, the Esks have watched the Western Division seemingly disappearing up the horizon, should they have designs on Post Season play this year, it will most likely come by way of the crossover method, which will see them challenging the Bombers and Als for that final third spot in the CFL East.

Considering how inconsistent those two teams have been of late, that isn't too wild a concept for fans of the Green and Gold, though winning these inter-divisional games would be helpful to the cause, making Sunday's game one of key importance to Edmonton.

Kavis Reed is still trying to get some consistency with his own squad, a team that seems to self-destruct at key moments of every game, something that they can't afford to do against the Argos, who know how to capitalize when opportunity presents itself.

The final game of week eight is going to be a measuring stick of sorts for Reed, who will be able to get a read on his squad, hopeful we imagine that some of the lessons of the last few weeks have been received and that Edmonton will be in position to make some movement as we head towards the Labour Day mark of the season, where the real push begins.

A look at some of the themes for Sunday's game can be found below.

Toronto Star-- Red Hot QB Ricky Ray leads powerful offence into tilt with 1-5 Eskimos
Edmonton Journal-- Edmonton Eskimos set for another awkward dance with Argos' Ray Eskimos/Argos preview

Twelve men on the Field Eskimos page
Twelve men on the Field Argos page

This weeks schedule, with Reviews from can be found below

August 18-- Edmonton 33 at Toronto 36 (19,656)
August 17-- Calgary 22 at British Columbia 26 (29,201)
August 17-- Montreal 21 at Saskatchewan 24 (40,637)
August 16-- Hamilton 37 at Winnipeg 18 (32,409)

All games on TSN

No comments: