Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Picking Week 15 in the CFL

Presented By


If you can’t beat em…join em!!!  
Right now Mike McCullough is separating himself from the pack in our CFL Alumni Pick-Em Pool (which I’ll update everyone on this week).  The 2-Time Grey Cup Champ is currently 34-18 this season, in picking the winners of each CFLweek, and that’s 5 or 6 games ahead of the 2nd place guy.  I’d love to be able to say his record is just dumb luck but unfortunately it’s not.  McCullough was always one of the smartest guys on the field during his stellar 11 year career (JUST ASK HIM) and his football IQ carries over to things like this Pick-Em Pool, and the analyst work that he does on the Rider Pre and Post Game shows with Micheal Ball and I (on 620 CKRM).  

I wasn't surprised at all when McCullough agreed to help us with our selections this week.  Throughout his tenure as a Roughrider, Mike was always the first to help his teammates AND the community.  He has spent countless hours investing his time into various Provincial initiatives that have done so much good throughout Saskatchewan, and he continues to contribute to the province through fundraising efforts now that he has hung up his cleats.  He's an all-around good dude with a pension for helping others and I think he viewed this opportunity as another way to lend a hand!

I caught up with Mike earlier this morning, and had a brief discussion about the upcoming slate of action in the CFL, and got his thoughts and predictions for what may transpire in Week 15.  I’m glad that we had this opportunity to pick the brain of a former teammate and good friend, and I trust that this will help you guys with your water cooler conversations and personal bets…

Here’s your Week 15 CFL Picks straight from the ProPerspective of 2x Time Grey Cup Champ and former Saskatchewan Roughrider  Great Mike McCullough!!!

Montreal @ Ottawa

Mike is going with the Ottawa RedBlacks here.  He pointed out that more often than not, he wouldn’t go against a match-up that involved a starting QB versus a back-up.  In this case that starting QB is Henry Burris, at home, against a Montreal teamthat seems like to be in flux after struggling terribly against the 1-11 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

I like this pick.  Montreal disappointed many, including myself, over the weekend with their lacklustre play.  If they have any hope of crossing over into the West, where their opponent will be tough as nails, then they need to find an offensive identity and get consistent on D.  Hopefully their pending game against their conference rivals stirs up enough emotional juice to where they come out and compete at the level CFL fans are used to seeing them.  Otherwise it could be a LONG 5 weeks in La Belle Province

Pick:  Ottawa

Calgary @ Hamilton
This is definitely one of the more intriguing match-ups of the week.  I’ve stated that Hamilton is going to be just fine considering that the make-up of their team did not centre solely on Zach Collaros, despite him having an unreal year.  One would expect Hamilton to still compete for the top spot in their division seeing as they possess the best Defense in the league, and Brandon Banks will always be a threat that puts them around the top of the CFL on Specials.
McCullough agreed with my sentiments regarding Hamilton however he brings up a good point when picking the winner for this clash.  Mike cautions us all by reminding everyone that Calgary is also pretty dam good defensively, and their Special Teams isn’t a shabby unit.
The way our guest analyst, and 2 Time Grey Cup Champ, sees things is that both teams are evenly matched on D and in the kicking game.  What may put Calgary over the top this week is Bo Levi-Mitchell, and that’s why Mike is going to go with the Stampeders.
#45 expects the Calgary Stampeders to come out in Hamilton and be the team that they expect themselves to be.  Led by their cerebral QB, take Calgary to bounce back after a close one in Winter-Peg and hand the TiCats their 2nd loss in the Coffee Grounds of the Steel City.
Pick:  Calgary 
Edmonton @ Winnipeg
This was a snap decision to Mike.  He immediately yielded to the fact that last week’s loss to the Stamps may have done that team in.  “They’re down” as McCullough puts it, when referencing Winnipeg, and Edmonton is a different team with Mike Reilly under centre.  
As a player, the former Rider got his fair share of the Edmonton Eskimos and when he looks at them right now, the Esks seem to be clicking in his eyes, which could be bad news for the rest of the Western Conference.
It doesn’t look good for the Bombers, even though they’re at home.  Take the Eskimos as they continue to build their momentum towards the playoffs and a possible Grey Cup berth.
Pick:  Edmonton
Saskatchewan @ BC
The Quarterbacking situation is key here and for that reason Mike is going to go with the Kevin Glenn led Riders over the BC Lions.  This scenario is the same as the Ottawa Montreal situation that we spoke about at the top of this column.  What makes things more favourable for KG is the fact that the Lions Defense has struggled all year.  They’ve shown some bright spots, but there isn’t any consistency about them as yet, and we’re coming down to crunch time.
Our guest analyst keeps his sense of humour about him while looking at this game and admits that this is a bit of an upset amongst two upsetting teams.  McCullough also predicts that the Riders could steal 2 of the next 5 games, this week and against Montreal again, but abruptly puts an end to any chances of beating Hamilton, Edmonton, or Calgary.  In turn this also closes the door on any playoff opportunity.
What will increase the chances of a Roughrider victory is the absence of Andrew Harris which could happen.  Going with a back-up QB against a Defense that is starting to play better and not having your best weapon is like being a one-legged man in an ass-kicking competition…BC is in tough.
It’s a shame that the Riders don’t control their own destiny when one looks at their faint playoff hopes.  What Ridernation saw out of Kevin Glenn and the Green and White against Montreal is the team that we’ve been waiting for all year.  The Coaching staff and Jeremy O’Day have been spot on in keeping Kevin Glenn at the QB spot and as long as #5 is there, the Green and White will always have a chance.  It’s too bad that their fate is in the hands of others.  
Pick:  Saskatchewan


Monday, 28 September 2015

Mailbag Monday!!!

The OFFICIAL PLAYOFF PUSH is underway in the CFL, and we find ourselves looking at the potential playoff scenarios with a lot more questions than answers.  

Here in Riderville, the nation is thrilled at what transpired here against the Alouettes and we’re all hoping that that was just a glimpse of the things to come over the next 5 weeks as far as the Green and White are concerned.

Once again we’ve truncated a couple of the questions that we’ve been asked to talk about in order to avoid speaking on the same topics but here are the inquiries that came up during (and after) Week 14 in the CFL…

As always, thank you guys so much for the questions, keep em coming in the comment section or via Twitter (@lucmull95)

Let’s get into it!!!

Via Twitter

Should we buy into the hype that there is still a post-season opportunity?


Absolutely.  Let the analysts be the realists hereWhen you’re a loyal supporter of your favourite club there should always be a ray of hope.  As a lifelong Dallas Cowboy fan, there have been years where veiled hope is all that we have as a fan base, and that’s just enough to keep us coming back, week after week, despite what the experts say.  If you’re a fan, keep believing in the boys because their optimism has not yet subsided, and the way in which they played Sunday revealed the type of character that exists within the team walls.


Any glimmer of hope right now is a valuable bar of gold to the guys in the Saskatchewan Roughrider Locker Room.  No matter how slim their chances are; they’re still chances nonetheless.


We talk about the need to control the things that you can control all the time on air, or on this very blog, and right now the Green and White are in “Win now and let the rest play out”mode, which is fuel for any competitive fire that the Roughriders have.

That mantra is also far better than the alternative, “We’re playing for our jobs” line that everyone outside the locker room is attaching this season to.  

Football is all about the competition, and as long as there is a reason to compete, that reason needs to glorified and harnessed because it’s one of the big reasons why this team is still capable of playing at a high level.


Once the mathematical chances of a post season berth is taken from the organization then it will be time to find another motivational factor, for the guys to use, in order to get up for the remaining games.  Ridernation can’t give up now.  The team hasn’t and neither should its supporters.


Via Twitter


Since Greg Quick took over as Defensive Coordinator, the Defense has played much better.  What can this be attributed to?


If I could summarize the defensive improvement with one word, it would be “CONSISTENCY”.  The Roughriders have chosen one formula, and stuck with it.  


If we take a look at their scheme, specifically upfront, the Riders have backed off getting fancy, with their substitution packages and groupings, and have relied on their 4 man front to provide the QB pressure.  Sure, Greg Quick been more aggressive with their blitz intentions as well, but the Riders are letting the guys upfront (who are coached by one of the best in the biz, Mike Sinclair) be the foundation for what they do.


It looks as though the Overall game plan on Defense is a lot more consistent as well.  There doesn’t seem to be any MAJOR changes in scheme from week to week, and the players aren’t having to install a new defense with every opponent.  This goes a long way in terms of continuity, and the consistency of the scheme allows guys to get comfortable with the things they are being asked to do, and allows them to play with confidence and speed.  The turnovers and sacks have gone up, and so has the speed at which the team is playing.  It’s a testament to Greg Quick knowing his players and simplifying things in order to allow them to play to the heights of their ability.  


Consistency has gone a long way in changing the way the defense has attacked their opposition.


It is also a worthy side note to add that I absolutely love the energy level at which Coach Quick operates.  He’s constantly going up and down his bench when the offense is on the fieldtalking and making sure his guys are alright, and on the same page.  Coach Quick is also the first one there celebrating a big play as the players come off the field, and one can tell that the guys appreciate his enthusiasm.  


Attitude reflects leadership, and Greg Quick has stepped up to the plate when this team has needed him the most.  #Salute


Via Twitter


What’s your outlook on the final 3rd of the year?


I’m pretty excited about the way the Eastern Conference finishes out.  It’s going to be a dogfight (excuse the terminology) for all three of the Conference playoff spots, and with Hamilton having some adversity thrown at them as of late, it’s going to make for a dramatic ending.  


It’s a two pony show as far as the West is concerned, in my opinion, and watching Calgary and Edmonton fight for playoff bye week rights will be nice because they’ll have to deal with other teams trying to throw every wrench into their plans as they can.  Obviously the situation at the bottom of this conferencelooks far more intriguing right now.  After watching Montreal lay an egg at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, there’s no telling what is going to happen with that final playoff spot here.  It’s been odd watching BC, Winnipeg, and Saskatchewan flounder, while giving the 4th place Eastern team hope, but now one has to figure that a Western team should still get the nod for that last rung.  That battle (for the 3rd spot) may end up being a lot more entertaining that we thought headed into this weeks slate of games.


Realistically, the entire Canadian Football League is one major injury away from having its entire post season outlook rocked so one will be hard pressed to find any fan base that will be overly confident in their squad.


The mantra around here has been that “No Lead is Safe” perhaps we should change that to “No Team is Safe”…It would definitely sound more appropriate.






Sunday, 27 September 2015

Gameday GOTTA HAVE IT!!!

Everyone is looking at this game like its the beginning of the end for the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders.  With 6 games left in the regular season, it looks like the unfortunate narrative is going to be that the Green and White have "Nothing To Play For".

If you're a follower of this blog (and we appreciate every one of you) we all know that there are PLENTY of reasons to play hard so don't subscribe to the wrong people when it comes to Sask.

Today's victory is going to be as tough to come by as any opponent.  The Montreal Alouettes have the ability to play GREAT Defense, and with Gun Slinger Jonathan Crompton manning the helm on Offense, the Als have the potential to run up the score if we're not on our Ps and Qs.

All eyes on the Montreal D vs. The Saskatchewan O today. When the Montreal defenders take the field, one of the things that has made them successful in the past is the way that they use their Dline and Linebackers.  The Defensive Coordinator in La Belle Province, Noel Thorpe, is going to throw 3 Dlinemen out there and then use the rest of his talented LB core to round out their front 7.  The Alouettes will stunt and move around, challenging the Offensive Line to be on top of their communication and protection assignments in order to create pressure on the QB.

Here's the key...

While the Alouettes front 7 (in whatever form that comes in) is creating chaos, the secondary for the Angry Birds has a propensity to play Man on Man Coverage behind their big guys.
The Saskatchewan Roughrider slot backs, Dress, Bagger, and Rossevelt, MUST WIN THEIR 1 on 1s today as KG probably won't have the time to get the ball deep to his Wider Pass Catchers. 
If guys like #7 can win their intermediate routes against talented vets like #17 Billy Parker the Roughriders have a great chance to upend the crossover hopefuls from the Eastern Division...


Friday, 25 September 2015

The Ole 96er!!!

"Football is a house of memories that you build over time to live in once you're older..."

One of my coaches used to remind us of that every now and then because he too had been on that journey. 


Some of my favourite football memories involve my dawg Scott Anthony Schultz, and I can't tell you guys how cool it is to see him take his place amongst the elite in the Saskatchewan Roughriders Plaza of Honour ceremony tonight.


Make no mistake.  Being inducted into the Plaza of Honour with Rider Great Tim McCray is a recognition of indelible on field contribution, and Scott Anthony Schultz was as tough as they come.  A TRUE BLUE COLLAR, KICK YOUR ASS NOSE TACKLE that poured every ounce of energy he had into protecting his A-Gap. 


#96 didn’t care for spin moves, or fancy footwork.  He knew his strengths and he played to them better than anyone else.  Get off the ball, and knock your opponent back…

It was that simple; but it was incredibly detailed at the same time.  

As soon as an Offensive Lineman would think that he had withstood the brunt of the attack, Schultzy (who used his hands incredibly well) would lift a wrist or centre a BULL RUSH that would eviscerate one’s Center of Gravity, and before one knew it, #96 would be in the backfield.  #WhoYouWit

But we all know that!!!  The Moose Jaw Stomp, the sound bites after the games, the intensity at which Scott played; all of that was a weekly occurrence, everyone got to witness that

It’s what you guys didn’t get a chance to see, and hear, in the locker room that made Schultzy so unique.  

That home of memories that I mentioned at the top?  Some of the best ones come from hanging with #96.  He was the ultimate locker room character…every team needs one.  We had one of the best; on and off the field.  


From letting a fart noise out to break the awkward silence of a coach cussing us out in the locker room for poor play; to telling the same joke 6 times just because one person laughed (politely) at it the first time, Scott was ALWAYS on.  


I sat beside him for 6 years!  Front row seat…You couldn’t get away with anything around #96…


I pulled out my cell phone once to make a call, and I overheard Scott scoffing to someone and rolling his eyes, “Hey, Hey, Pffft, look at JOHNNY TORONTO with all of his cell phone technology…Biiig Deal!”



Upon starting my first professional football game, nervous as hell, Scott leans over to me as we’re about to hit the field with a suspicious look on his face and goes, “Hey…This is a pretty big opportunity for you…DON’T F*CK IT UP!!!”  #NoPressure


We had thought we had seen it all as a team in 2005, until Scott broke up our Championship O vs. D Ping Pong Tourney Final by Streaking hilariously up and down the locker butt naked…#ThisIsA300PoundDT


Impressions of coaches??? Go ask Scott to do his Gary Etcheverry impression, or to give you a Ron Estay quote; then try not to fall out laughing…THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF MY MEMORIES…THAT I CAN ACTUALLY TELL YOU.  

You guys will get a chance to hear some of his other former teammates talk about Scott, and the recollections will always be the same...They’ll be funny, and they’ll always brings a smile to a guy’s face!  


For those lucky enough to play this game, at any level, one will run into distinctive individuals that leave a mark on one’s career.  It’s uncanny.  One may not even like the person at times but when one’s football days have ran their course and one sits back to reminisce about all the amazing things that they’ve experienced, there will always be one or two guys that will stick out.


Scott Anthony Schultz was that guy…From crashing around the mosh pit right as the team ran out of the tunnel, to sitting in his locker drinking beer in his pads long after the clean-up crew had left, Moose Jaw Saskatchewan’s finest left an unforgettable impression on teammates and opponents.  The guy was a BEAST on the field, and a GREAT teammate.


He’s probably nervous about tonight’s ceremony…I guess I can now return to him the same advice he extolled on me when I was a young pup…


"This is a pretty big opportunity Schultzy…Don’t F*ck it up!!!" #YAASSS


All kidding aside. Congratulations to Scott Schultz and his entire family.  This is a weekend that they'll never forget…For a guy that provided so many of us with some many memories, it’s only right that #96 gets to enjoy a moment for himself!








Thursday, 24 September 2015

Picking Week 14 in the CFL



On a week where we induct two new members to the Plaza of Honour, including my good friend Scott Anthony Schultz, the CFL schedule hits the final 1/3 of the year.  This is the phase of the season where one isn’t bothered as much by the aches and pains that come along with the grind of the game, and teams need to playing their BEST football if they’re going to have a shot at playoff success. 
As a former player, this was by far my favorite time of the year.  Everything gets turned up a notch, and if teams aren’t at their best on any given day, the aftershocks have the potential to be devastating.  Every year the divisions are decided in the last couple of weeks, and this year looks to be the same.  IT ALL STARTS IN WEEK 14.  Buckle up CFL fans, this is going to be a good finish.
Hope this helps!!! Here’s our CJ Evans Home Designs weekly CFL picks…

Calgary @ Winnipeg

I woke up Tuesday morning to a flooded timeline of Twitter updates involving the ONE AND ONLY Gary Lawless...To my surprise, low and behold, Gary seemed to be lobbing grenades into an organization NOT named the Saskatchewan Roughriders!  He was actually speaking on the potential exits of Kyle Walters and a couple of other prominent figures in the Winnipeg BlueBombers organization.  It was great to see Ole Clueless breaking news about something closer to home, and it was really the only thing that is keeping the Bombers in the news right now.  Sure they signed Ian Wild, but as CFL great Doug Brown tweeted a couple of days ago, “I hope Ian Wild can also play WR, LG, QB, cover kicks, because LB is not a pressing need at the moment…”  Signing Wild wasn’t something that is going to pay immediate dividends. 
Here’s another thing Gary Lawless and the Winnipeg press need to talk about, since they’re into the grenades…Since they threwtheir Special Teams Coordinator under the bus, the Winnipeg Special Teams has been worse…#fact #JustSaying
The obvious money is on the Stamp Machine here after beating the BC Lions despite having a couple of Special Teams issues themselves.  One can expect Calgary to start turning it on now that the playoff push has started, especially at the QB position manned by Bo Levi-Mitchell.
Pick: Calgary 
BC @ Edmonton
Edmonton is really taking some impressive steps in their efforts to be recognized as a Grey Cup contender in 2015.  Earning a split in the Battle of Alberta series was the first eye-opener to anyone not in the Eskimos locker room, and then putting on a defensive masterpiece against Hamilton has really catapulted the Eskies into the Championship conversation.
We’ve made no bones about how tough it is to win at Commonwealth Stadium, but don’t count the Leos out whatever you do.  It seems as though the Lions have been tagged as the team responsible for keeping the Western Division pride intact and not allowing an Eastern Team to crossover.
In order to compete, the Lions will need to continue to win the Special Teams phase like they did against Calgary.  (Football IQ 101:  Winning 2 out of the 3 phases in football gets you the W).  BC will also need to step up defensively in a HUGE way because the Edmonton O isn’t exactly a juggernaut.  Finding a way to keep the Eskimo drives short and dominating the kicking phase of the game will let BC try and chip away at that vaunted Edmonton D; from there it’s a crap shoot.  This game may be closer than some expect.  Let’s go with the home of Canada’s Greatest Hockey Player EVER (according to everyone)…
Pick: Edmonton
Toronto @ Ottawa
Even though it’s the last place on earth that wins and losses are earned, I’m not sure how anyone could justify a Toronto victoryON PAPER.  Along with Henry Burris the Ottawa RedBlackshave completely eviscerated the expectations that “experts” had for them at the beginning of the year, and all of a sudden they’re poised to challenge for the DIVISION!  If you would like a pragmatic look into this clash, one could peruse most of the CFL statistical categories to find that the RedBlacks have the distinct advantage.  If you’re a flash and bang sort of fan, then one could easily spot the wave of momentum that the RedBlacks are currently surfing on as the key to victory.
Me?  I like both…
The RedBlacks seem to be on a high right now and using it to play some great football.  On the other side of the coin, Toronto just keeps getting kicked around by the CFL and the city that they call home.  The Double Blue just found out that they have the privilege (said sarcastically) of getting to play their home games out of…OTTAWA, while the Blue Jays continue their MLB magicial run.  What a kick to the groin!!!
Take Ottawa in the Nation’s Capital.  It all seems to be coming together for the RedBlacks right now.  Be warned though, as I write all of this, I literally see myself as an Argo player reading it and smirking with that “We’ll show your stupid a**” look of disdain that is often reserved for the media.  Putting the Argo’s in the corner and prodding at them won’t go over well, so like BC, don’t expect them to just lay down.
Pick:  Ottawa
Montreal @ Saskatchewan
Where has the time gone?  Rewind the clock to a few years back and this game would be the highlight of the CFL schedule being billed as the “Clash of Champions.”  The CFL panel would have set up shop in Regina, the anticipation that would be building up would be unreal, and the streets would be flooded with Green and White all week.  The whole league would be tuned in this Sunday…
2015 paints a VERY different picture unfortunately.  It’s almost surreal.  Montreal vs. Saskatchewan now seems like a side note in the league schedule.  Even with Montreal pushing to become a crossover team come playoff time, this game hasn’t been talked about much.
I would expect attendance to be right around where it was during last weeks Ottawa game despite the lukewarm anticipation.  Ridernation will never abandon their beloved Green and White, and for those of you who do pack Mosaic, you’ll be in for a good game.  
It’s a very winnable game for the Roughriders.  The Alouettesare going to try and throw off the Offensive Lines communication by looping and bringing guys in from different places on the field, but our Hogs (lead by the re-signed Dan Clark) should handle their scheme upfront.  If our protection holds up, they’ll be plenty of time for KG to make throws against the Man to Man strategy the Als tend to employ in their secondary.  
That may be the key, albeit a tough one if Montreal is on top of their game.
The Riders have to win their one-on-one battles, in the slots especially.  Lucky for us we have two of the best in the league in Bagger and Dress, and the addition of Naaman Roosevelt, with the things he brings to the table, look favourably towards the home team.  Lining up against the likes of Billy Parker and Chip Cox is no easy task, but if our slots can free themselves up before the pressure upfront gets home, the Green and White should be able to move the sticks.
As for the defensive side of the ball, Montreal presents a bit of an enigma.  With Anthony Calvillo calling the plays and Jonathon Crompton slinging the pill, there’s no telling what the ALs are capable of.  And that has to be uncomfortable in a sport where information gathering is crucial.  There’s so much potential for success AND failure there.  
It’s a toss-up here.  Both teams are a safe bet to win, and one could make arguments for both sides easily.  Maybe the difference in the game comes down to outlook.  If Montreal wants to crossover, this game is a must-have.  The question is do they have an extra gear versus a team that doesn’t have a whole lot going for them.
Pick: Montreal.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

OFFSIDES...The PodCast Ep 13

Lucky Number 13 Folks!!!

Hopefully not a bad omen because we certainly enjoyed the topics of discussion today!

From the onset we get into Etch's view on Hamilton losing Zach Collaros, and hopefully draw a close to that chapter.  We also get into the unreal performance of Henry Burris up to this point of the CFL season where I also try and get Coach to give Jason Maas a little bit of credit for his play calling...I'LL GIVE YOU ONE GUESS HOW THAT WENT hahaha!

As we get into the meat of the PodCast I have Etch give us some insight as to how a coach would look at their situation if they were part of a 1-11 team, and he hits us with a similar situation that he went through with a past coaching staff.  There's some good value that you guys will get out of it, and maybe it'll allow you to put yourselves into Coach Dyce's shoes (and anyone else for that matter).

Episode 13 falls on the point of the schedule where the final 3rd of the season begins, so it was a great chance to do some heavy forecasting into what may transpire over the final stretch run in 2015.  The more we talk about the potential playoff scene, the more I'm hearing talk of the possibility of an Eastern Crossover, that would be historical, and Etch drops some knowledge there as well...

As we continue to try and get better every week, keep in mind that we're always open to ideas and ways to improve.  Just let us know what you guys want, and if it's within our reach, we'll get it IN!

Hope you enjoy the discussion folks, it was funny because today I thought I caught Etch going wildly off topic and I was quickly schooled in the art of drawing the bigger picture, so check out the link below, click on it to download for later, and we'll give you Episode 14 when we pick up next week.

Preciate all your love folks.  We'll talk soon!!!