Thursday, August 22, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 9

As the summer winds down and Canadians turn towards some fall football ahead, some key match ups highlight the schedule for week number 9.

A Grey Cup rematch places at the top of the watch list, with the Stamps looking to make life difficult for the Defending Grey Cup champs when they meet on Friday night in Toronto.

Montreal will get another test this week, as they look to turn around a rather horrid start, the task not made any easier by a visit from the high flying BC Lions.

Two teams that need to figure it out quickly match up on Saturday as the Bombers travel to Hamilton to take on the Tiger Cants and the wrap to the weekend provides us with the always interesting match up of the Eskimos and Riders, one which can find almost as many Rider supporters as Eskimo fans up in the stands.

The West has proven to be a tight race as we move towards the fall, with Saskatchewan, Calgary and BC all offering up the prospect of a tough long haul towards the playoffs and positions in the standings.

A look at week nine can be found below.

British Columbia at Montreal (Thursday, August 22)
7:30 PM ET, 4:30 PT

The struggling Montreal Alouettes will be looking to turn around their rather horrid start on Thursday as the British Columbia Lions bring their well rounded attack into Montreal, looking to build on the momentum of last weeks huge victory over the Stampeders.

The Als head into the game without the services of Anthony Calvillo, the Als starter and team leader suffered a concussion last weeks game in Regina, as he seeks to return to full health, the task of finding some holes in the Lions offence most likely set to fall to back up QB Josh Neiswander, who was thrown into the mix early in the second quarter, took a bit of time to find his balance, surrendering two interceptions along the way.

Still, considering the circumstances, things probably went as well as they could have, with the Als still in contention for the win heading late into the game.

The Als recently signed one time Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL QB Troy Smith, a player the Als had been pursuing since 2005, but the prospect of him having picked up the nuances of the Canadian game in but ten days probably won't find him calling the signals just yet.

For Nieswander the task ahead on Thursday is pretty tough, he's going up against a B. C. Lions team that plays hard, tough football, making life a tad miserable for QB's, running backs and receivers alike.

On the Defensive side, the Als will have to contend with Travis Lulay, who has been a bit inconsistent at times (currently leading the league in interceptions), but for the most part can put together long running and in the end successful drives when the count the most.

The Lions play every game in the right mind frame, where each game could make the difference when it comes time to develop the playoff hosting rights, and considering the competitive nature of the West once again, that's probably a pretty smart strategy.

Keeping pace with the Riders and the Stamps is key to the road out of the West in November, adding two points in August against an injury riddled team in Montreal could be on the horizon for BC on Thursday night.

Some previews of Thursday's game can be found below.

Vancouver Sun-- Lions get big returns by following the blue print
Montreal Gazette-- Nobody's panicking on Alouettes team. Yet British Columbia/Montreal preview

Twelve men on the Field Lions page
Twelve men on the Field Als page

Calgary at Toronto (Friday, August 23)
7:30 PM ET, 5:30 MT, 4:30 PT

Friday Night Football features a rematch of the 2012 Grey Cup, with the Calgary Stampeders looking to change the score from that late November game, while keeping their eye on the path to the 2013 version of the National championship.

Calgary heads into Toronto however, a bit more than a little beat up, big gaps have suddenly appeared with the Stamps offence, Nik Lewis, who was injured against the BC Lions is gone for most if not all of the year.

Jon Cornish suffered some ill effects of his bruising running attack agains the Lions as well and will miss the Friday night showdown with Toronto and the Stamps still have QB concerns, Drew Tate is out for the foreseeable future, leaving Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell to carry the team offensively into the fall.

The Stamps of course are not alone when it comes to injuries, pretty well every CFL team is facing some key injury to the lineup as the CFL preps for the Labour Day push and on to the playoffs.

In fact, at the moment, the Argos may be the healthiest of the bunch and playing fairly good football to go with it, as Ricky Ray continues to show how important he is to the Double Blue, week after week he adds to the stats tables, the Argos picking up the wins to go along with their QB's success.

The West is so far this year the stronger of the two divisions, which would have probably had the Stamps with the edge heading into Friday night, however, their injury parade more than likely makes them the underdog heading into tonight.

Leaving the Argos, currently on a four game winning streak, with a good chance to pick up another two points on their Easter competition, building on a lead that could secure them with a Grey Cup return in November.

Some thoughts on the Argos and Stamps can be found below.

Calgary Herald-- Stampeders limp into defending champions' house
Toronto Star-- Red Hot Argos saying all the right thins ahead of rematch with Stamps Argos/Stamps preview

Twelve Men on the Field Stamps page
Twelve Men on the Field Argos page

Winnipeg at Hamilton (Saturday, August 24)
1 PM ET, Noon CT, 10 AM PT

Two teams still trying to find their way in the 2013 season take to the field in Guelph on Saturday, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who have shown some signs of reversing their early season woes, take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a squad still mired in the midst of a rather unsettled year.

For the Bombers, Saturday brings a change in the playbook as newly installed Offensive Coordinator Marcel Bellefeuille seeks to create an atmosphere to gain success, something that has escaped the Bombers for most of the year.

The 2013 season has careened a fair bit off the road thus far, major changes took place in upper management at the start of the month, a sign to the fan base that the sliding squad was eager to address its many issues.

The move of Bellefeuille into the active play decision making provides some past CFL experience to a team that at times has seemed confused about the nature of three down football, that it will turn around the struggling Bombers this year seems unlikely, but to at least lay a foundation for next year would seem to be progress in a year when much has gone wrong.

And while many in Manitoba may be thinking that it's time to plan for next year, the Tiger Cats haven't written off the current campaign and there are signs that Kent Austin's team is beginning to get into the swing of what he wants accomplished this year.

The Cats have clawed their way back from the horrid start to the year, a win on Saturday would move them to a .500 record, something that most in previous weeks probably didn't think would be a fixture any time soon.

Two wins in a row have moved Hamilton towards the upper reach of the CFL East, the most recent against the very same Bombers last week in Winnipeg, in their recent wins, Hamilton has clearly begun to put into motion the offensive attack that Austin has created for his team.

A worrisome thing for the eastern competition, a collective most likely preferred the more confused version of the Cats, as they improve, not only will Winnipeg and Montreal feel the heat, but so to will the Argos who up until a few weeks ago, surely believed that the East was theirs to rule this year.

Hamilton seems on the cusp of making all of their efforts just a little bit harder moving into Labour Day and beyond.

A few glimpses of the first of the Saturday double header can be found below.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Time for an About Face
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats try to even record, as Bombers try to even scores Bombers/Tiger Cats preview

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

Saskatchewan at Edmonton (Saturday, August 24)
2 PM MT/ST, 4 PM ET, 1 PT

The wrap up to week nine will play out on the field at Commonwealth Stadium, as the Eskimos, still trying to find their way in this 2013 season will take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a team that a few weeks ago was the talk of the league but since their bye week has taken a few steps backward.

That break from the intensity of the early season has served the rest of the West nicely, cooling off a very hot Rider team, the Riders post break struggles started with Calgary where the Stamps overpowered Saskatchewan 42 to 27.

The next week brought the Riders a win, but not a very convincing one over the Alouettes, a team which with a bit better management of the game plan could have taken the Riders down, a feat that they nearly accomplished despite themselves.

Week Nine provides an opportunity for Saskatchewan to get their game back on, as they look for a return to offensive dominance that the first six weeks of the year brought.

For Edmonton, this is quickly turning in a year where evaluation is still going to be the focus, the repercussions of the Ricky Ray trade still looming large on the team, a squad that does not yet seem to have recovered from that seismic shift in their cohesion.

Eventually they have to move on from that now dark day in Green and Gold history, more to the point this current group needs to find the ability to not only remain in a game, but to grab the opportunities to win that have been their in the past, ones that slipped through their fingers.

The finale to the week will provide both teams with measuring sticks of different visions, one team looking to see if they can return to their dominating form of but a few weeks ago, the other seeking to find if they have enough to get back in the hunt, either in the West or through the crossover to the Eastern semi final.

Some pre game impressions can be found below.

Regina Leader Post-- Beware of the lesser lights
Edmonton Journal-- Rivals learn to fear Rider's awesome Kory Sheets Eskimos/Riders preview

Twelve Men on the Field Roughriders page
Twelve Men on the Field Eskimos page

This weeks schedule with Reviews from can be found below

August 24-- Saskatchewan 30 at Edmonton 27 (41,868)
August 24-- Winnipeg 14 at Hamilton 37 (13,138
August 23-- Calgary 35 at Toronto 14 (21,157)
August 22-- British Columbia 38 at Montreal 39 (22,465)

All Games on TSN

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gibson's Players of the Week: Week Eight

Ricky Ray once again was featured on CFL highlight packages after week eight came to an end, the Argos QB found much success against his old squad on Sunday evening.

And when it came to handing out the Gibson's awards for week eight, it would be a case of the last images holding the attention of the panel, as Ray's efforts against the Esks, placed him atop the Gibson's listings for the week.

The panel did explore other match ups from the weekend, finding much to like from Saskatchewan's Tyron Brackenridge, the Lions Tim Brown and Montreal's Marc-Olivier Brouillette, all of them named to the Gibson's roster for week number eight.

A review of the the Gibson's panel selections can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Ricky Ray, QB, Toronto Argonauts

Defensive Player of the Week
Tyron Brackenbridge, LB, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Special Teams Player of the Week
Tim Brown, KR, British Columbia Lions

Canadian Player of the Week
Marc-Olivier Brouillette, LB, Montreal Alouettes review of the Players of the Week

Video review of the Players of the Week

Top Ten Plays of Week Number 8

Ultimate Replay for Week Number 8

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Players of the Week Listings for the 2013 season

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

Bomber command restaffs the Flight Deck

With the Blue Bombers season quickly spiralling out of control, the Board of the Winnipeg football club made a decision last Friday, one that for some was long overdue.

The Bombers dismissed President/CEO Garth Buchko and General Manager Joe Mack, stating that the time for change had arrived.

As the Bombers season unravelled, even the attraction of the CFL's showcase ball yard could not stem the call for change from those paying the bucks to sit in the stands of Investors Group Field.

Beyond the Bombers woeful on field record, there was a growing feeling that the team was more than just divided, but clearly veering into the world of dysfunctional.

With that theme coursing through the avenues from the neighbourhoods of Old Kildonan to St. Vital and out beyond the ring roads leading east, west, north and south to the far reaches of Manitoba, the time for change arrived on August 9th with the clearing of the Bomber flight deck.

Right man for the job
Five things Bombers new CEO needs to deal with right away
Who's next for Bombers GM?
New CEO given complete authority
Teammates, business partners weigh in on Miller taking over Bombers top job
Blue draft Miller
Bombers Acting CEO has good reason to be nervous in new job
Bombers board chair vows there won't be any more leaks
Blue Bombers clean house: Garth Bucjko, Joe Mack out and Wade Miller in
Buchko and Mack fired from Bombers, Wade Miller named new acting CEO
Plenty of Blame in Bomberland
Buchko asks Bombers board to sack Joe Mack: Reports

Tabbed to pick up the pieces of the Blue Bomber mess was Wade Miller, named as the new Acting CEO of the team.

He in turn, has selected Kyle Walters to address the many issues within the team itself.

Walters was named Acting GM and tasked to rebuild the confidence of the team on the field (not to mention the fans in the stands) a challenge that may require more than the last half of a CFL season, but one that probably won't give him much more than that to make some progress.

The first task it seems is to get the Bombers locker room back on the same page, the last few weeks have been akin to the era of Watergate, with whispers (and some loud declarations as well) that things were out of control for the Blue and Gold.

Head coach Tim Burke, who survived the Friday dismissals, will now have to try to rebuild the team's core, keep everyone on the same page and start to provide for some winning football.

And while many might think the 2013 campaign a write off, the nature of the CFL East suggest that with a sudden surge of success, the struggles of July and August could give way to a more rewarding finish by the end of October.

At least, we imagine that's the thinking for the Bombers Board, which made the changes of August, finally taking the action that many had been seeking for the last few seasons now.

Perhaps 2013 is the Bombers mulligan year, a chance to do it all over again, the new stadium and all its wonders enough to keep the Bombers fan base in place for a year of rebuilding.

The novelty of the new stadium however will wear off, without success on the field, some of the 30,000 in the stands may start to find something else to do on a Manitoba weekend.

The building process for the years ahead is now clearly underway, a long delayed project that now seems to be in motion with a wee bit of urgency.

The Bombers need a long term plan in place quickly, if the Acting GM isn't the one for the job, the Bomber's Board should be indicating that this is indeed just a stop gap and move quickly to secure a plan for the future.

If not just a bridge to the future,  then giving Walters the reins to do what is required should be the first order of business moving on.

Otherwise, Bomber fans may find a lot of Groundhog day is coming into their lives and we're not talking about any visits from Gainer...

Time for talk is over, now it's time to win
Bomber acting CEO on reasons for taking a seemingly impossible job: "I can make a difference'
Blue a Gong show, Miller a go-getter
Bellefeuille addition could help Bombers break Simpson loose
Help on the way for Bombers struggling offence
There's still hope Bomber fans, but a home win would be nice
Blue Bombers name Kyle Walters acting GM after Joe Mack firing

Gibson's Players of the Week: Week Seven

It was a double dip weekend for Jon Cornish, as the Calgary Stampeder claimed two of the four Gibson's Player of the Week Awards for Week Number 7.

His outstanding game of Friday night which saw him run for 175 yards on sixteen carries and score 4 touchdowns against the Saskatchewan Roughriders propelled him to the front of the pack for the week Seven Gibson's.

For his efforts at McMahon on Friday, Cornish was awarded both the Outstanding Player and Canadian Player of the Week awards.  If only he played defence and took a spell on special teams and he might have provided for a four for four sweep and the way he played Friday it probably could have happened.

Two Argos grabbed the other two awards as Alonzo Lawrence and Chad Owens represented the Double Blue in fine style over week seven.

A review of the the Gibson's panel selections can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary Stampeders

Defensive Player of the Week
Alonzo Lawrence, LB, Toronto Argonauts

Special Teams Player of the Week
Chad Owens, KR, Toronto Argonauts

Canadian Player of the Week
Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary Stampeders review of the Players of the Week

Video review of the Players of the Week

Top Ten Plays of Week Number 7

Ultimate Replay for Week Number 7

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Players of the Week Listings for the 2013 season

Thursday, August 08, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 7

The CFL's reduced work load hits its second half, as the bye week breaks continue for four of the league's eight teams.

For the four CFL teams back at work this weekend, the work week will be over and done with by Friday night, as the week 7 schedule features a game on Thursday and the wrap to the week on Friday.

While the Lions, Eskimos, Bombers and Cats enjoy their extended break in the first week of August, the Argos, Als, Riders and Stamps get back to work.

Toronto at Montreal (Thursday, August 8)
(7:30 PM, 4:30 PT)

The latest instalment of the Jim Popp Chronicles kicks off in Montreal on Thursday, as the Als GM takes over from recently dismissed head coach Dan Hawkins. In a strange twist to the usual dismissal of a head coach, Popp takes over after an Als win, a victory that wasn't enough to buy a little more time for the beleaguered import from the US college game.

The promise to Als fans has been that a return to "Alouettes football" is at hand, winning Alouettes football we imagine is the goal.

To head towards that prospect, the Als will require that Anthony Calvillo return to his All-CFL form, while we've seen glimpses of the old Anthony, he did struggle under the offence in place under Mr. Hawkins, a frustration that occasionally seeped out beyond the locker room doors.

The Als however, will face a bit more adversity as they seek to regain some momentum in the CFL east, star receiver Jamel Richardson is gone for the season, Running Back Brandon Whitaker also is on the injured listings, pushing Jerome Messam back into a CFL spotlight, another opportunity to put his troubles from past CFL teams behind him.

While the Als reconfigure their offence, their defensive unit which has played fairly well all things considered this year thus far, will have some challenges of their own on Thursday.

Ricky Ray is back at the helm of the Argos offence, the week long bye of last week for Toronto helpful to his rehabilitation process, his damaged knee of a few weeks back, deemed ready to go for Thursday.

The Argos currently hold the advantage in the CFL East with a 3 and 2 record, though even the most devout of Double Blue fans most likely realize that the accomplishment is more due to the nature of the rest of the east than in any sense of the Argos being a juggernaut.

In fact, the Argos have struggled just as much as their lodge brothers in the east, the only difference being they have managed to turn a few near disasters into positive moments, still by not having put a bit more space between themselves and the rest of the pack, the division is still a tight race, all be it one of  the march of the turtles it seems.

They can add a bit of breathing space with a win in Montreal Thursday night, or they can surrender some ground and offer some hope to the Als who will be eager to show the hometown fans that the season is but a bit of race.

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

Toronto Star-- Ricky Ray's return bad news for Alouettes coach
Montreal Gazette--  Popp putting his stamp on the Als Argos/Als preview

Twelve Men on the Field Argos page
Twelve Men on the Field Alouettes page

Saskatchewan at Calgary (Friday, August 9)
(7 PM MT, 8 PM ST, 9 PM ET, 6 PM PT)

The Calgary Stampeders get back to the CFL Seek 7 work schedule with a tough task ahead of them on Friday night, playing host to the undefeated Saskatchewan Roughriders, a team that it seems is already playing in championship form, the only thing slowing them down, the mandatory bye week that the first of August brought to them.

The Riders have been the team to beat since July 1st, with outstanding performances in all facets of the game, offensively they have been piling up the points and setting the stage for record breaking performances from the very first kick off.

Defensively, the Riders are playing some punishing football, making points to come by hard and leaving opponents with a full appreciation for physical football, which has made opposing training staff a most overworked group after Rider encounters.

Looking to pick up where they left off prior to the bye week, the task will be simple, put more points on the board and yet further distance between themselves and their CFL West competitors.

To stop them the Stamps will have to not only beat them on the field, but perhaps in their own stands, as is the case wherever the Riders travel, a huge contingent of Green clad fans will be cheering them on, a phenomenon that seems to bring out larger numbers whenever the Rider caravan rolls into McMahon Stadium.

Those fans there to see the Stamps will be looking to see  this is the weekend that the chase of the Riders pays off, Calgary has kept pace with their cousins to the east a 4 and 1 record keeping them but two points behind the Riders, a victory on home field Friday night will move them into a tie for first in the very competitive West.

A fairly impressive thing considering the injury woes that have dogged the Stamps in the first five games, though with adversity comes strength it seems, as the Stamps can now seemingly count on three strong players at the QB position, Bo Levi Mitchell having passed his audition with more than flying colours two weeks ago.

For Friday it will be back to clipboard for the Stamps youngster, though head coach/GM John Hunfnagel can now rest a little easier knowing that which ever QB he has to turn to, can get the job done.

Though we imagine, that going up against the Riders in this Friday Night Showdown, he might be hoping that the requirement to wander down the depth chart will be required.

Some thoughts on Friday night's match up can be found below.

Regina Leader Post-- Riders looking for a repeat of July 5
Calgary Herald-- Are you ready for the CFL game of the year, to date?

CFL. ca Riders/Stamps preview

Twelve Men on the Field Riders page
Twelve Men on the Field Stamps page

This weeks schedule, with Reviews from can be found below

August 9-- Saskatchewan 27 at Calgary 42 (35,637)
August 8-- Toronto 38 at Montreal 13 (22,068)

All games on TSN

Gibsons's Players of the Week: Week Six

It was a Cat fight for the Gibson's Players of the Week awards, as the Lions and Tiger Cats snared all four of the weekly awards for Week Number Six.

The Lions workday withe Blue Bombers provided for Offensive and Defensive player awards on the week, as Travis Lulay and Solomon Elimimian were recognized for their efforts in the Lions 27-20 victory.

The Tiger Cats grabbed the remaining two awards, with Luca Congi picking his up for his Special Teams work in the Cats win over the Eskimos, while Samuel Giguere had a stellar game, one which secured the Canadian player of the week award.

A review of the the Gibson's panel selections can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Travis Lulay, QB, British Columbia Lions

Defensive Player of the Week
Solomon Elimimian, LB, British Columbia Lions

Special Teams Player of the Week
Luca Congi, K, Hamilton Tiger Cats

Canadian Player of the Week
Samuel Giguere, WR, Hamilton Tiger Cats review of the Players of the Week

Video review of the Players of the Week

Top Ten Plays of Week Number 6

Ultimate Replay for Week Number 6

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Players of the Week Listings for the 2013 season

Monday, August 05, 2013

Jim Popp's mess to fix

When the Montreal Alouettes fired Dan Hawkins on August 1st, the term we seem to have heard the most was that the Als were now turning to Jim Popp to lead the team.

We suggest that it isn't so much a case of "turning" to Popp, but rather, having him fix a mess that he created in the first place.

The Montreal GM went against conventional wisdom in the off season, seeking to replace Marc Trestman who had moved on to the Chicago Bears in January.

Popp, hoping we imagine that lightning would strike twice, went with an untested CFL coach to lead the Als, a team that clearly is in decline from their halcyon days of the last decade.

Our Twelve Man short list of last January, featured a number of possible candidates, many of them not only with experience in the Canadian game but of the Montreal market, the eventual choice came from about as far off the grid as we might have imagined.

Enter Mr. Hawkins, well known in college circles and through his work in US broadcasting, but as the first five weeks quickly showcased, a man a little out of his depth in understanding the nature of three down football on a wide, long field.

His pained expressions on the sidelines through the first four weeks told us much about how big a hill he was pushing that rock up, add on the looming spectre of a legendary CFL QB clearly unhappy with the nature of his offence and the direction his team was heading and it's not hard to see how the over/under on coaching shelf life quickly changed.

The fact that the Als made the change after a WIN and well, what do you have to do to succeed in the CFL is probably running through the mind of the now departed Hawkins.

Such was the state of the Alouettes heading into August, that the GM felt he had no choice but to dismiss his chosen coach and push the reset button, looking to recapture the winning spirit that once was considered a given in Montreal.

Popp is now in charge, he most likely will be through the current season when the search will start again, providing he is still part of the Als picture by seasons' end.

There was much speculation in the off season, that Popp was going to be the one leaving the Als camp for greener pastures in the NFL, however, his head coach beat him to the NFL payroll, some may wonder if perhaps Popp's heart may still be longing for a shot with the league to the south.

The only problem for his ambitions however, the fact that Trestman for the most part parlayed the use of Anthony Calvillo's skills and knowledge of the game to buff up his resume, his replacement didn't seem to make the best use of his QB who on most game days is pretty well a coach as well, such is the respect he commands on the field.

The Hawkins' experiment, the latest in the CFL of a high profile name from the US not finding his feet in the world of three down football may prove to have been more than expensive for Popp, tarnishing his reputation as a good judge of CFL coaching qualities, something that execs south of the border may just make a mental note of.

The redemption of the Alouettes season starts August 8th with Popp on the sidelines as the Als host the Argos, the vow to the fans, will apparently be a return of Alouettes football as it once was known.

With a five game stumble through the early portion of the season, the one saving grace for Popp is that the east is such a weak division, that even with almost a third of the season gone, the Als could very well still make a run up the standings to catch the Argos.

If they do, the horrors of June and July will be long forgotten by November, or at least the GM will we imagine be hoping that's the case.

Some of the reviews of the Montreal turmoil can be found below.

August 2-- He want's to win, "Als' Brandon Whitaker says of Popp
August 2-- Als look to reboot offence after Hawkins firing
August 2-- Montreal's Jim Popp on Dan Hawkins firiing: "Hopefully we can get ourselves back to the Alouette way'
August 1-- Jim Popp to bring back the 'Alouettes' way as head coach
August 1-- Hawkin's has only himself to blame
August 1-- Als GM's luck runs out with Dan Hawkins hiring
August 1-- Alouettes fire coach Dan Hawkins after five games; GM Jim Popp takes his place
August 1-- Alouettes axe head coach Dan Hawkins
August 1-- Montreal Alouettes axe coach Dan Hawkins after five games
August 1-- Alouettes give coaching job to Popp after firing Hawkins

Friday, August 02, 2013

CFL Regular Season: Week 6

The August long weekend bye games arrive, with but two CFL matches to book end the High summer long weekend.  The Stamps, Riders, Als and Argos all get first crack at the extended break, an opportunity for Montreal to re-work their playbook in the wake of the departure of the now fired head coach, Dan Hawkins.

For Edmonton, Hamilton, Winnipeg and British Columbia however, it's a work week and the first of two games for week six kicks off on Friday night.

Hamilton at Edmonton (Friday, August 2)
(7 PM MT, 9 PM ET, 6 PT)

We're not sure which of these two teams has the most to lose with a poor performance, though just by a glimpse of the standings would suggest that a win is perhaps more of importance to the Eskimos than the Tiger Cats, if only to stay in the CFL West playoff race, a strange declaration for the first week of August.

Yet that's the fate for Edmonton, which has struggled so far in the 2013 season, as inconsistent  play and far too many untimely penalties have made life quite difficult for head coach Kavis Reed.

With the remainder of the Western teams already pulling away, the Eskimos may already have to start working on their record to try and claim a cross over spot in the clearly weaker Eastern division, the back door that they may need into post-season play.

Towards righting their ship, the Esks will once again call on Mike Reilly to try and put enough points on the board to withstand any defensive shortcomings or penalty calls that may cause trouble. That and playing a full four quarters will be reward enough for coach Reed, who has seen his team come close a few times this year, only to let the comeback slip away in the late stages.

Hamilton, as well has its own troubles, an eastern mirror to their hosts on Friday night, it's been a tale of inconsistent play, penalty trouble and lapses on both offence and defence that have so far resulted in the Cats having but one win on the season.

Hosts to a league worst Points For at 99 (tied with Edmonton there) and a league worst Points Against at 158.

Kent Austin's return to coaching with his added duties as GM has made for a frustrating year thus far, the Cats, a team that look impressive on paper, haven't quite measured up to the press clippings and so far have not been able to appear to be on the same page regardless of where you look.

It's safe to say that someone is going to win tonight, the victor leaving the loser to dwell at the CFL bottom. Friday night may provide a good measuring stick for both as to the work still to be done to get back on track, before it's too late.

A quick look at the Friday night match up can be found below.

Hamilton Spectator-- In Edmonton, a fight for momentum
Edmonton Journal-- When Stamps gets the ball, good things happen to the Edmonton Eskimos Eskimos/Tiger Cats preview

Twelve Men Eskimo page
Twelve Men Tiger Cats page

Winnipeg at British Columbia (Monday, August 5)
(4 PM PT, 7 ET, 6 CT)

One thing about a BC Lions game, it seems it's always a homecoming game for someone, tonight, it's a chance for Buck Pierce to reconnect with old friends and fans as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers arrive in Vancouver to take on the Lions.

And if the rumblings in Winnipeg are correct, there may be a fair amount of time for the former Lion QB to reconnect, there appears to be a changing of the QB guard in Winnipeg as we head towards the end of week six, Pierce giving way to Justin Goltz, who seems to be the one to get the ball, the Bombers perhaps mindful that the rather fragile nature of Pierce means that his starting days are all but over. In fact heading into the BC Day matchup, Pierce is listed at number three on the Bombers depth chart.

It's not sitting well with the competitive Pierce, but with injury stalking him almost every game, consistency is now more important for the Bombers than name recognition. Thus Goltz is the new starter, the hope that he can put in a full game at the office and with it, find a way to build up some momentum for the Blue and Gold.

Winnipeg has struggled through the opening third of the CFL season, with one win and a current three game losing streak about all they have to show for their efforts thus far.  With a bye week beckoning at the end of their work against the Lions, the Bombers will be hoping to head into it on a positive note.

The task may be a tough one however, the Lions coming off a rather lacklustre loss to the Argos last Tuesday, will be looking to nip some of the bad habits that seemed to pop up on the radar in that game.

The offence could find no traction against the Argos, the defensive unit was uncharacteristically picked apart by Zach Collaros, filling in for the injured Ricky Ray, something that we're pretty sure no one anticipated heading into kickoff last week. The only one on his game it seemed was Paul McCallum who accounted for all of the Lions scoring.

Penalties proved costly for the Lions, as they took a string of discipline orientated punishments, providing the Argos with valuable field position and more importantly control of the clock, which they made good use of.

It's a focus that head coach Mike Benevides will have had to address in a short practice week, the Lions back in action six days after the Argos game.

His one advantage is that the Lions for the most part are a veteran club, they will be seeking to address their errors in all departments of last Tuesday, that more than anything else is probably not a good thing for the visitors from River City.

A preview of the week six finale can be found below.

Winnipeg Sun-- Blue Bomber keeping positive outlook
Vancouver Sun-- Lions' Lulay 'blocks out the noise' in wake of stinging defeat Bombers/Lions preview

Twelve Men Bombers page
Twelve Men Lions page

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

August 5-- Winnipeg 20 at British Columbia 27 (26,856)
August 2-- Hamilton 30 at Edmonton 29 (31,006)

To all the teams he's loved before...

Runako Reth, the recording artist also known as Arland Bruce III, has been one of the more colourful of CFL personalities to arrive across the 49th in recent years, sure he seems to have a lifespan of only a couple of seasons per team (sometimes less), yet he's cobbled out almost half a decade of employment and provided for more than a few background and stories along the way.

Drawing on his CFL road map over those years, Bruce has taken to the recording studio, providing a collection of songs dedicated to all of those teams that have let him hang his uniform in a locker during his CFL journey.

Bruce records for MMR Worldwide a under his now preferred name of Runako Reth, with a hit already under their belts with Loonies and Toonies.

The full roster of MMR Worldwide work can be found from their YouTube channel.

So far in the can as they say are tributes to the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Interestingly enough his current team the Alouettes has yet to be turned into musical gold.

While the Eskimos and Blue Bombers also have not been provided with the Arland Bruce touch just yet, but well the season is young we imagine, who knows where the double threat (receiver and warbler) could end up next and should he want to go one more cut deep, there's always Ottawa in 2014.

While Arland works out the Greatest Hit's package and accompanying videos, we thought we'd like to point out, he too has been the subject of a musical salute...

. .

A look at Arland Bruce's/Runako Reth's CFL musical road map can be found below. Q & A with Bruce
Calgary Sun-- Arland Bruce III records songs for CFL teams, including Calgary Stampeders

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Gibson's Players of the Week: Week Five

Un, deux, Trois, the Alouettes picked up three of four possible Gibson's for week number five.

Only the stellar debut of Calgary's Bo Levi Mitchell, changed the potential of an Alouette sweep, as the  Calgary pivot threw for 376 yards, three touchdowns and offered up poise and stability as the Stamps went to the depth chart owing to injury.

The Als, who have been the league's soap opera squad thus far in the season, picked up their pace a bit over the week, holding off an Edmonton Eskimo late game charge, with an impressive defensive stand (all be it assisted by some questions on officiating).

Still the Alouettes D squad showed off it's skills and that, along with Special Teams and Top Canadian proved good enough for three out of four Gibson's for the Als.

A review of the the Gibson's panel selections can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Calgary Stampeders

Defensive Player of the Week
Kyries Hebert, Safety, Montreal Alouettes

Special Teams Player of the Week
Sean Whyte, K, Montreal Alouettes

Canadian Player of the Week
Shea Emry, LB, Montreal Alouettes review of the Players of the Week

Video review of the Players of the Week

Top Ten Plays of Week Number 5

Ultimate Replay for Week Number 5

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Players of the Week Listings for the 2013 season