Friday, 30 October 2015

Quick Update

Just wanted to update those who are looking for this Weeks Stampeders Primer that we put out on the day before every game.

We're going to put the Primer and 'Gotta Have It' Columns together tomorrow as my schedule has been chalked full of work today.

Today the Red Cross launched its Red Cross Pink Day campaign in anticipation of Red Cross Pink Day on February 24thI am heavily involved with that program as many of you know and the launch took up a large part of the day.  Feel free to click the link or contact me about how YOU can be more involved in the Red Crosses IMAGINE NO BULLYING program!

Anyway, I'm also headed to drop in on Football Friday and the Sportscage this afternoon, and then will be fortunate enough to do the Colour Commentary for the Rams vs. Huskies CIS game.  Head on in to Mosaic Stadium tonight as this HUGE Rivalry game plays out UNDER THE LIGHTS.

See you at MOSAIC!!!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

OFFSIDES...The PodCast. Episode 18

In todays PodCast we continue to delve into the CFL Playoff conversation, and address the question of whether or not some top tier teams in the CFL have gotten that much better, or could we argue that the other squads in this league have actually gotten worse?  Coach Etch's take on it is that the League is NOT improving, and talks about the CFL needing to be VERY concerned about this.
Another topic that may concern the league, that we touch on, is the fact the offensive schemes are not only ineffective, but the CFL should be embarrassed about this because the league has made sure that the rules heavily favour offenses and their quest to run up points.
As we continue on, Coach and I go back and forth about how to calm Riderrnation down amongst all the demands for change, and Craig Reynolds' outlook and who he may look to lean on during all the decisions that he has ahead of him.
We hope you enjoy the 18th Episode of our PodCast.  Don't forget that you can download the show by clicking on the title in the embedded link. 

See you guys out on the town, and thanks for stopping and talking ball!  Hit the jump...

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Picking Week 19 in the CFL

As the second last week of the CFL season opens up, everything that matters is still up for grabs and that’s just the way we want it as fans of this game.  Well…maybe not exactly the way we want it here in Ridernation. 
Speaking of that; now that the Riders have been knocked out of contention, I’m curious to know who the FAN-Favourites are in Riderville to win the Grey Cup.  ME?  I’m pulling for the RedBlacks.  What a story and what a job done by Marcel Desjardins and his coaching staff in the Nation’s Capital.  It’d be the perfect end to a dream season.  I still remember having radio conversations with those closest to the RedBlacks organization who would’ve taken a 4 win season as a small victory.  There was no way that anyone could have imagined that this team would capture our attention the way they have.  It seems that everyone had Ottawa written off, except the RedBlacks themselves.  WHAT A YEAR.
As always, I want to thank you guys for stopping by and continuing to talk ball with us, despite the CRAPPY year hear in Saskatchewan.
With the help of our great partners at CJ Evans Home Designs, here are our Week 19 CFL picks...
BC @ Toronto
Don’t look now but the BC Lions are showing signs of life!  The dismantling of a very good Hamilton TiCats squad was impressive AND BALANCED.  Under their stud rookie QB Jonathon Jennings, not only did Andrew Harris get his touches in, but the Leos also distributed the ball amongst their receiving corps nicely with a few guys registering big plays. 
I like BC in this one for a couple of reasons.  The first being that the Lions are starting to get their pass rush down, ESPECIALLY against QBs that aren’t necessarily comfortable moving around the pocket and extending plays with their legs.  The Lions racked up 5 sacks last week against Jeff Mathews, who isn’t much of a threat with his feet, and now get their shot at the legendary Ricky Ray, who isn’t going to be keen on running out of the pocket after taking what seems to be an eternity off.
The second reason I’ll take British Columbia is that they’re desperately trying to hold off the Montreal Alouettes for that final Western playoff spot, and the Als gets to finish the year against the Riders while the Lions last game is in Calgary…Now is the time, if you’re a player in the BC Lions locker room.  The guys will have done the math in their head all this week, and one NEVER wants to leave fate in someone else’s hands.
Pick: BC
Ottawa @ Hamilton
WHO HIRED THE COMMITTEE, or PERSON, RESPONSIBLE FOR DOING THE CFL SCHEDULE?  It’s a known fact that the division battles, and playoff races usually come down to the final two weeks of the season.  I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why the CFL has two WEEK 19 games scheduled as a double header on NFL SUNDAY.  I get that there are fans that like the CFL way more than the NFL, but that pocket of purists is small compared to the NFL hungry hoards...STOP IT…JUST DON’T DO IT.  You’re not doing yourselves any favours by running alongside big brother.
The thing is that this TiCats vs. RedBlacks game should be a priority in Canada.  It features the incredible journey of an Ottawa Franchise that nobody saw coming, and a team that is up against enormous adversity, but has the coaching staff that just may still get them to the dance.  It’s going to be a great game!
If you’re the RedBlacks, you have to like your chances.  Henry Burris is a valid MOP candidate, you’ve got weapons on both sides of the ball, and Hamilton is losing steam FAST. 
Here’s the thing with the Steel City.  They’ve got a terrific Defense, and unreal Special Teams potential but the problem is that if their offense isn’t clicking the way they need it to, the other two phases are going to be spending a lot more time on the field than they should heading into the most important phase of the year.  Now I have referenced the fact that the saving grace for Hamilton is their coaching staff.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more complete group.  Austin and Co. should mitigate some of the rough waters that the Tabbies find themselves in, and hopefully put together a scheme and belief that get the TiCats to where they expected to be before Collaros went down.  It’ll be a ton of work, but don’t write the TiCats off completely.
That being said; for this one…
Pick:  Ottawa
Montreal @ Edmonton
The second game of the worst scheduled Double-Header in the world features the Montreal Alouettes and the streaking Eskimos.
Same deal as the BC Lions here if you’re a member of the Angry Birds…ya gotta win to get in…Too bad it’s against a team that just learned the hard way to be ready to compete in every game, even if the opponent is significantly less talented.  We’ve all watched the film, the Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t GIVE that game away to the Esks…The Esks strong-armed it.  Edmonton looked great in the trenches; especially at the Oline position.  The Hogs there are putting the intent to bury opponents on film consistently.  I spoke with a couple of friends of mine that play in Edmonton after their victory, here in Sask, and you can hear the hunger to win a championship in their words.  Definitely not a team that anyone looks forward to having to seem especially Montreal.
There aren’t too many people that will give the Alouettes a chance in this game.  Although there won’t be too many people tuning in to find out either thanks to the NFL.  The Angry Birds best bet would be to have the Lions lose, and for their playoff hopes to hinder on week 20 where they get Saskatchewan, and BC has to go to Calgary…but that’s just an outsider’s perspective.  Nobody in the Montreal locker room will be looking ahead to the next week, they’re pros.  They’ll go into Commonwealth with every intent to win.  Unfortunately, that’s a really tough ask.
Pick: Edmonton
Saskatchewan @ Calgary
As everyone in Ridernation mills about playing Armchair GM and speculating on who should be doing what, and when they should be doing it, Jerome Messam and his new squad await the Riders in the second last opportunity of the season.  There may be some more changes, and we may see some more of the new guys that we got a glimpse of vs. Edmonton, but there’s no way I could possibly spin this one in Saskatchewan’s favour.  It is what it is…
Pick: Calgary

Monday, 26 October 2015

Mailbag Monday!

Someone asked me if I regretted starting this blog during such a sh*tty season as I was leaving the game yesterday...ABSOLUTELY NOT was the immediate response, regardless of conversation, as long as we're all talking BALL, we're all good!!!
Anyway...As far as "talking ball" goes, this column is the closest interaction point between us, aside from the Post game call-in shows that Mike McCullough and I sit in on, and it's been funny
 how the questions that we've been getting from you guys are all pretty similar.  Either you guys are really in-tune with each other, or this abysmal record hasn't gotten any of us thinking too deeply or too much!!!
Regardless, we press on.  The loss in Edmonton raised some eyebrows as far as depth chart and position groups go, and we'll get into them now.  Here are the questions (and the answers) for the questions we received over the past week...
Via Twitter
Why are the Riders rotating QBs like they are?  Why not just tell guys which Quarters or Halves they have?
I think the way the Riders rotated Smith and Price was good for both.  One of the main things it did was force them to be in tune to the game at every point, instead of just waiting on their designated time and taking whatever situation they got.  What the rotation also did was keep both accountable for the ENTIRE game vs. potentially saying something like "Brett Smith was up 21-3, and then when Price came in during the 2nd half, the Riders lost it all..."
Having both QBs play in every situation while the game went through all of its ups and downs allowed both Smith and Price to be evaluated at their highest points in a number of different situations that you wouldn't have seen them in had they been relegated to certain quarters of play.
Via Twitter
Can we give up on Connop and go get an EXPERIENCED CDN DTACKLE?
The Riders can go and get an experienced Canadian DT, like Keith Shologan, to man the Nose spot and it wouldn't mean they were giving up on Rory Connop.  It was such a tough ask to really expect Connop to man that key Nose Tackle spot without going through a few hiccups.  The first thing he has to do, as any tall guy in football is challenged with, is play with low pad level.  That alone will help him maintain, or play on the other side of the Line of Scrimmage. 
Having an experienced vet come in and show Connop what it takes to command a double team, and push the pocket consistently will be huge for his development.  The Rookie DT has so much potential, which is why everyone jumped on his bandwagon so early, but if he's not able to learn from all of his reps then they end up hurting instead of helping.  It was evident in the first few weeks that Connop needed some on-field guidance (not just in the class room and at practise from Mike Sinclair) and he really had nobody in the room, aside from fellow rookie Brandon Tennant, to help him through what is TRULY REQUIRED at the 1 technique where he is playing. 
It's very hard to find solid Canadian Defensive Tackles, and it's not their fault.  The coaching just isn't there.  If you look at the comparison between the CIS and NCAA, it isn't even close as far as developing D Linemen.  Even though we might get a guy like Eddie Steele, who was schooled at the CIS level every once in a while, they still need to develop and have teammates around them that can facilitate that growth.  Bringing a guy in here to play the Nose spot will only help Rory Connop and guys like Tim Agbaje.
Via Twitter
What's it like when players see guys on the field (like JR Mertile) just give up and put no effort into the game?
Plays like the one Mertile was involved in (where he backed off an tackle attempt) happen every so often, at every position group.  The one thing that I'll say is that one can never hesitate to pull the trigger in the game of football.  If there is a guy in your sights with the ball; you have to get in on the tackle.  It doesn't matter what's going on around you, or who you think already has the play made, you have to get in on the tackle until the whistle blows or the player with the ball goes to the ground.  There's actually a lot of teachable moments that can be taken from that play where Adarius Bowman scored his 1st half TD, like securing the tackle prior to trying to strip the rock, and leveraging your body position.  In the end one always has to pull the trigger and get in on the play.  There can never be a hesitation based on the fact that someone else is "probably" going to make the play.
Via Twitter
I was surprised we didn't see more of Dylan Ainsworth in on Defense.  Thoughts?
I'm in the same boat, I thought that we all might have seen Ainsworth on Defense a little bit more, but I wasn't shocked by any stretch.  The organization needs to see what they have in Markus White. No. 98 has been here for a few seasons now, and being that he's an International, the Riders may have a decision to make on him IF HE'S NOT GOING TO BE A STARTER.  White did some good things against Edmonton, but couldn't manage to finish a couple of plays that would have boded well, in terms of his involvement, as they continue forward.  I have a feeling that we'll see more of Ainsworth in the next two weeks.  What Dylan has to understand is that he still needs to be playing at a high level on Special Teams and that cannot change.  He also needs to be prepared.  Whether he only gets one rep, or he gets 100 reps, Ainsworth has to show the evaluators that he has his plays down and can be called on to execute at a moments notice. 
Being a back-up in this situation is tough.  You know that there is an opportunity coming up, and your practise reps might even start to increase, so the excitement starts to build.  One of the things that young guys tend to lose focus of, in these occasions, is their initial responsibilities in the kicking game.  Just because a guy may get a shot in one area, doesn't mean that it takes priority off of another area.  As long as Dylan Ainsworth understands that, and keeps pounding away and improving, he should see his reps increase over the final two competitions.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Wk 18 Eskimos Primer

The scene that’s going to play out over the last three weeks in the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization happens every so often, in every professional sport.  The Green and White have reached a crossroads…

Starting Saturday there are young guys that will get their first (and maybe only) opportunity to prove that they have the skillset to make it in the CFL, and perhaps beyond.  And then there’s the established vets that are counting down the days in which they have to spend in that hallowed locker room, with brothers that they’ve forged unbreakable relationships with.

Some have an incredible opportunity; for others, it’s the beginning of the end in Ridernation, maybe even the end of a career.

Football is a beautifully brutal game and it offers no condolences, or loyalty, to even the most faithful participants.  From crowd favourites to role players, one will eventually be forced to look into a future that is fogged with uncertainty.

Up until now, the locker room has been a united front where men have fought tooth and nail for the guy to the left, and the guy to the right.  They have fought hard for their brothers and have never given up.  There’s been enthusiasm that’s palpable, they could feel it.


On Saturday the team will take the field with a ton of extra-curricular thoughts in the back of their minds.  The will to compete will be at an all-time high, but it runs a risk of disappearing immediately upon the first sign of adversity.  How could it not with so much uncertainty surrounding every level of this team?  

The Riders should have gone dark on the media this week.  All the inquiries about who we’ll see, and who will sit,can’t be good for the locker room mentality.  Those type of questions are only welcome in June.  All they do now is ostracize certain players, and spotlight individual performance in what is the ultimate game. 


The worst part about the situation is that the Edmonton Eskimos walk into Mosaic Stadium with all the riches of the Persian Ruler Xerxes in the movie 300.  They’re now a legitimate Grey Cup Contender.  Edmonton plays a fast and physical brand of football, and they have one characteristic that eludes the Roughriders; Confidence.

Confidence is another tough ask of a team that is about to “take a look” at its younger talent.  Confidence requires leadership, and that’s not to say that there are no leaders in the locker room, but Brackenridge and George aren’t going, and Messam and Glenn were jettisoned to facilitate the future…That’s a lot of vocal presence that has been subtracted without being replaced.

We seem so far removed from the praises that we were heaping on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the beginning of the 2015 season.  It’s actually unbelievable to look at where the team sits now and think about the things that could have been.  There’s a bunch of wouldacouldashoulda’s that we can chomp on.  Maybe that will be the route we take on the Rider Pre and Post Game shows.

Ridernation feels like it’s been robbed of everything.  The fan base cringes at the recent past, can’t stand the present, and because of all the uncertainty, isn’t allowed to look into the future.  A tough pill to swallow for a nation that has been on an upswing since 2007…But fear not...every team eventually goes through this.  The Leafs have been going through it for as long as I can remember (laughs out loud) the Jays are looking like their finally coming out of it #23years, and the Craig Reynolds seems bent on getting out of troubled waters SOONER rather than later.

So as you walk the final 3 weeks of 2015, understand that whatever pains that you’re going through pale in comparison to the walk that some of your favourite players are starting to make.

All the sacrifice, all the blood and sweat, all the countless hours spent in the film room, are beginning to weigh on them.  One of the most important chapters in their life may be closing soon.  

Eventually all athletes will face this reality and we can’t always choose the way it ends.  I feel for every one of those guys that is staring the evident in the face.  I don’t envy the situation.

All one can do is keep pushing.  It’s the business that they’ve chosen, and all the brutality aside, nobody would choose a different route if given the opportunity...

Cups up to the boys going out and competing on Saturday!



Wednesday, 21 October 2015

OFFSIDES...The PodCast. Episode 17!

This just might be our BEST EPISODE YET, or maybe it was because we were just excited about todays content...

Either way, we had a blast taping this OFFSIDES episode because instead of talking about the unfortunate situation in Riderville, we talked CFL Playoff Football!

First we talked about the "Hot Potato" that has become the 3rd slot in the Western Conference Playoff picture, and shed light on the TEAM THAT REALLY HAS THE DRIVERS SEAT in that race; it may not be the team that you were thinking of folks!

After getting that settled we took a look at every team that has already clinched a berth in the dance, and analyzed what each team needed to do, in order for them to WIN the 2015 Grey Cup Championship. 

The conversation did me some good, because it got me excited about the CFL game again...We've been so caught up in the trials and tribulations of the Saskatchewan Roughriders out here, and it's really distracted us from the fact that there is about to be some really exciting football going on outside of our Green Bubble that is #Ridernation!

After spending the majority of the time in that realm, we jump out briefly to chat about whether or not the CFL needs to push its schedule up a bit, so old retired pros like me will stop complaining about the weather!  Coach and I also get into an interesting back-and-forth about how special this league really is, and one gets another glimpse of Coach Etcheverry's passion for the CFL, especially when it comes to things like player salaries, and the amazing effect that it has on Saskatchewns grassroots football programs.

We wrap up the show by talking about "OPPORTUNITY".  It's a word that is synonymous with professional sports and I felt it was a great way to conclude our show, and plug my recent stint with the Regina Thunder...

Hit the link folks, I think you're gonna like this one!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Picking Week 18 in the CFL!

Just missed going 4-0 last week, but the Montreal Alouettes didn't provide us with the upset special that we gave them credit for being capable of.
Oh well!  We're moving on to Week 18 (in my Bill Belicheck voice).
I know it's late, but better late than never...
Here's our Week 18 CFL Picks brought to you by our good friends at CJ Evans Home Designs!!!

Montreal @ Toronto

Who knows where this game is being played?  At this point the CFL may announce that things will go down in the parking lot of Canada’s Wonderland near Woodbridge Ont.  The disrespect that the Double Blue is FORCED to endure is a stain on this league, and the fact that the CFL and its commissioner seem to be turning a blind eye to the ordeal will surely be a blemish to the early tenure of Jeffrey Orridge.


We’ll go with Toronto in this one.  The reason is simple.  The Argos have the Head Coach and the right mix of vets to drive home the point that this is the time they need to start peaking, regardless of the ways that the Rogers Centre tries to bully them and the CFL.  As a matter of fact, one gets the feeling that the Argos are beginning to embrace the BS and use it as fuel for the fire as they head into their Grey Cup Run.  


For all intents and purposes, the Montreal Alouettes will be a formidable opponent for the Boatmen, so please don’t take this as a one sided affair.  As a matter of fact, if the Als play Defense the way they are capable of, they may find themselves in a position to win the game in the 4th Quarter.  At this point our prediction is based more on the fact that the Argos have been a contender from the start of the year, and when a team has that mindset early, and things comes to fruition, that team is playing with a total different set of expectations than a team that is just “trying to get in the dance”.


Pick: Argos, even if they have to play in Nunavit, which isn’t a stretch at this point.


Hamilton @ BC


We’re going with the BC Lions this week!!!

Yes, that seems like a huge gamble considering most of the media and CFL fan sees this game as an open and shut case for the TiCats, but the Lions have played some good football over the last couple of weeks that included a fun game to watch as they put the Edmonton Eskimos to the test in a nail-biter during week 17.


Special Teams is going to be the difference maker for the Lions.  They’re going to have to win the field position battle, and maybe even score or (at the very least) set up a score for their Jonathon Jennings-led attack.  On the flipside, they’ll have to smother Brandon Banks…I’m talking “white on rice” type of coverage.  


If the Leos can do that, one has to give them a fair chance in the other phases of the game.  It’s not like BC is THAT much further behind Hamilton, in terms of talent.  They’ll need a monster effort upfront with the Dline, and Jennings is going to have to make the correct reads QUICKLY against an aggressive Tabbies defensive scheme.  


There’s nothing like the opportunity to prove ones detractors wrong.  As professional athletes, these guys thrive in situations where there is a significant amount of doubt that’s trying to affect the teams focus.  With 3 weeks left, the backs of the BC Lions seem to be getting mighty close to the wall.  Hopefully they’ll react to being put into the proverbial ‘corner’.


Pick: BC


Ottawa @ Winnipeg

To my surprise, Vegas has the odds in favour of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  We’re going to go ahead and pick against Las Vegas and their greasy sports bookies.


Even after Ottawa looked like they were trying to give the Blue Bombers the game throughout the entire 2nd half, it doesn’t seem like Winnipeg possess that “next step” that all good teams are capable of taking.  The Bombers always seem to be __________ away from having a “W” in the win/loss column.  I use the ‘fill in the blank’ example because it always seems like the Bombers will find some way to lose the football game, as opposed to finding some way to WIN.


Don’t be surprised if Ottawa looks much better the second time around, even if they are going into IG Field.  The RedBlacks made some very correctable mistakes in the first game, and if those mistakes are remedied in the sequel, one can’t expect the home team to stand there and go punch for punch with a Hall of Fame QB that has games where he looks like he’s 28 again. 


Pick:  Burris…I mean Ottawa…Yes, the Ottawa RedBlacks


Edmonton @ Saskatchewan


Two great franchises headed in completely opposite directions.  Unfortunately for Ridernation, these next 3 weeks are going to be spent playing “Arm Chair Scouting Director” as the Green and White will be in fully fledged “evaluation” mode for the remaining schedule.

For all those who’ve been constantly saying, “We should get a look at so and so…” You’re wish is about to become true.  


It’s anyone’s guess as to what direction the Saskatchewan Roughriders are headed in.  There’s uncertainty in every phase of this proud organization, and for the time being, the foggy cloud that is the future of the Green and White doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon.


The only thing that is guaranteed right now, to anyone in the prairies, is that we’ll have this edition of the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders for 3 more weeks.  They’ll be a whole bunch of new guys getting an opportunity to put their abilities on tape, and as uninspiring as that may sound for the “Green Goggled Demanding Rider Fan” this may be the only pro opportunity that some guys will ever have.  As a former pro, I’m excited for the guys that get a chance to build their resume, but I understand that this perspective is a far cry from what the ENTIRE league thought in early June.


This has truly been a crazy year…and it’s not over...the opponent on Saturday is a legitimate Grey Cup contender.  There will be no feeling sorry for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Pick: Edmonton






Monday, 19 October 2015

Mailbag Monday!


Or maybe that was just me?  With the Rugby World Cup (ALL BLACK EVERYTHING) Baseball, CFL, College Football (Go STATE), PFC Playoff action (In Saskatchewan) and of course the NFL action that puts a cap on every weekend, I was literally catching up on my PVR'd events all of Sunday night!

The Green and White get back at it this week minus two integral parts of their locker room, Kevin Glenn and Jerome Messam, in a game that sees the ROLLING Edmonton Eskimos visiting Mosaic Stadium.  The trades that happened last week were the official announcement that the Saskatchewan Roughriders ship had set sail in a new direction.

Unfortunately the most alarming thing about this new direction is that we have yet to hear if the guy in charge of steering the ship right now (Jeremy O'Day), is going to be at the helm the entire way.  The President of the Green and White, Craig Reynolds is going to conduct a thorough procedure in order to fill the General Manager spot, so right now, there's still a fair amount of gray area that surrounds this franchise.

As players, all one can do is prepare for the next opponent, and put something on film that looks favourable in an evaluators mind.  The aspects of the game right now that ARE NOT in the players control are beginning to stack up, and it's going to be interesting to see how some guys are affected by everything that is going on around them on the weekend against the Esks.

Let's get into our questions for the week, shall we?

Via Twitter
  • What was your initial reaction to Glenn and Messam being traded?
I wasn't surprised at all.  I still look at this business from a players eyes, and the one thing that I know is that one can never be surprised by any moves at any point in time.  I built this immunity after watching deals like us (The Riders) shipping Kerry Joseph off after an MOP year and a Grey Cup victory in 2007.  It's something that a vet always used to tell me..."Never let this business surprise you."

Obviously the leadership that both guys brought over their time in a Rider uniform is unquestioned and, Mess especially, was one of the brighter points on this squad over the last two years.

The decisions were going to have to start somewhere in this organization, and if one looks at age, and opportunity, there was still some value in those guys that could be squeezed out before the team may have lost them for nothing at the end of the season.  I for one have championed Kevin Glenn, and still wish that he was in Green and White for the 2016 season but I'm really happy that he gets to go and compete for a team that still has an outside shot at getting into the playoffs.  KG is one of the good guys in this game, and I hope that he finds his way on to a championship squad before his career comes to an end. 

I'm also pumped up for Jerome Messam. He's got a shot to compete for a Grey Cup now and the CDN RB whose career used to be surrounded by questions refarding his maturity and character, has come a long way since getting a career reprieve a couple of years ago in Sask.  Guys grow up...its apparent that Mess has made some big strides off the field. Best of luck to him!!!

To finish...Never be surprised in this business.  You'll end up being disappointed every time.

Via Twitter
  • How LUCKY were your Spartans???
Luck had nothing to do with it.   Here's the bottom line.  It's a 60 minute game, and in that 60 minute game, which the Referees did their best to mess up, Michigan State led every category except rushing yards.  We won Time of possession, 1st downs, passing yards, overall yards and the TURNOVER battle.  I'll point out that if Michigan had actually won that game, they were the ones who would have been lucky.  NEVER GIVE UP...GO STATE!!!

Via Twitter

How hard will it be for Kevin Glenn to learn a new system in Montreal?

It shouldn't be hard at all! It's not like the Montreal Alouettes have a system in place that's set in stone. They've been juggling QBs all season long and trying to make things as simple as possible for the "next guy" stepping in to fill a void. The upside of having Glenn walk in to their dressing room is that he understands the basics of what CFL offenses need to accomplish in certain down and distance situations, and because he's been around the league so long, the terminology is the only thing he'll have to adjust to. When you play ball for as long as KG has, the X's and O's are all the same, the only thing that's different is the words by which they are delivered.
For instance: A route combination like running guys up the seams of the field may be called "Seattle" in Saskatchewan but a different coordinator may term it "Denver" on a different team.
They'll be able to install some pretty detailed concepts because of Kevin Glenn's experience moving forward in La Belle Province!


Thursday, 15 October 2015

OFFSIDES...The PodCast! Episode 16

Dropping Episode 16 on you today, and I don't have a ton of time to get into specific details of the Podcast as my schedule is JAM PACKED!
However...our discussion obviously looked at the latest happenings in Riderville (regarding the Glenn and Messam trades) and tried to angle things from more of an administrative outlook, than from a position in the locker room.
Todays episode also gets into the JOURNEY that is coaching, and the grunt work that one has to go through when they're not at one of the sexier positions of authority (like a Coordinator).
Everything from having a "one game at a time attitude" to Winnipeg having life, and ratio manipulation...right now, on the 16th episode of our OFFSIDES PodCast.
Hit the link!!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Picking Week 17 in the CFL

Fresh off the Kevin Glenn trade in the middle of a Saskatchewan Roughrider Bye Week, we hit you with our Week 17 picks brought to you by our great friends at CJ Evans Home Designs.  As the playoffs draw closer, one may be in for some surprises, as each team looks to solidify themselves for the Grey Cup run.  Even the teams like Saskatchewan can still wreak havoc on the playoff scene, so don't turn the dial at any point during the CFL week because you may miss something that changes the entire landscape as we know it!
As usual, we hope this helps your Water Cooler Convo's and your friendly wagers!
Be on the lookout for tomorrows PodCast episode which we'll drop in the afternoon. 
Also, keep in mind that there is still going to be playoff football in Regina, as the Calgary Colts visit #YQR and go head-to-head with the Thunder in PFC Semi-Final Action!  Let's pack the park folks, this game is going to be a physical 4 quarter battle.  Hit the link for more info:
Here's your picks for this week!!!
Winnipeg @ Ottawa
As far as the Bombers go, I can’t help but think of the Godfather III movie when Don Corleone realizes that he’ll never be able to shake his mob ties, in one of the many iconic quotes from that trilogy;
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!!!”
Everyone on the outside of the Winnipeg Locker Room had all but scratched the Blue Bombers off their bingo cards, when it came to the playoff scenario.  Now, low and behold, after a gritty victory in BC against the Lions, Winnipeg is back in the swing of things…WHAT A DIFFERENCE A KICKER CAN MAKE. 
I’m happy for the Bombers.  Hopefully the Blue and Gold can hold onto whatever momentum their comeback last weekend may have drummed up.  They’ll need it, as they head into another hostile environment in the Nation’s Capital to face the RedBlacks who are still in the hunt for their division, and were on the losing side of an offensive shoot-out with the Argos last week.
This game, on paper, is a personnel mismatch.  If there is one thing that we have all come to realize about the RedBlacks this year, is that they can score the football in droves;
Winnipeg…Not So Much.
Granted, the loss of Jeremiah Johnson for the rest of the year is a HUGE loss to what Ottawa has been trying to do offensively as of late, but the RedBlacks still have a bunch of weapons they can go to and a defense that is in the top percentile in the CFL.
With the odds on paper stacked against them, I’ll take the RedBlacks over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Pick: Ottawa
Calgary @ Toronto
After coming off a victory against Ottawa where it seemed both teams were playing 7 on 7 (no Dline/Oline) the Toronto Argos are looking more dangerous than ever.  If the Double Blue can get their Defense to play solid consistent football over the final weeks of the regular season, I don’t see why one wouldn’t have them up there with Edmonton as favourites to compete for the Grey Cup.
That’s the only thing that scares analysts, experts, and some current players about the Argos.  People still don’t trust Casey Creehan to get it done schematically, and their offensive prowess may be covering up some legitimate concerns.  In talking to a former teammate who has gotten the opportunity to prepare for Toronto a couple of times this season, he stated that “It’s all about slowing down their Offense.  They’ve got great guys on D but they’ll make a mistake or two defensively that will keep you in the game.”
I call BS, and I almost fell into that “analyst trap” last week when referring to Toronto…There’s no way that as a former player I’m going to doubt the legitimacy of a team that is currently tied for the top spot in their division.  As a pro, it doesn’t matter how the team gets it, A WIN IS A WIN IS A WIN…So far the Argos are winning games.  We can sit here and say “despite this” and “despite that” all we want, but the bottom line is that the Double Blue are winning football games. 
Now on to Calgary.  Another team that the CFL community is gossiping about.  The fact that their last two losses have been at the hands of their Alberta neighbour has seemed to take some of the lustre off of the shiny “Stamp Machine” rep. 
To some; it seems like little brother (Edmonton) is growing up, and the rest of the league is catching up.
What a perfect time to drop a PSA regarding the mindset of the Stampeders, and let everyone know that the Western Powerhouse still has some kick left.  If Calgary wants to be looked at as the benchmark of the CFL still, they’ll need to get a win against a Toronto team that may feel that Calgary lucked out during their first battle.
Last week T.O had to drop 38 just to get a win.  It’s tough to see any offense dropping that many on a Rich Stubler Defense that sits 2nd in the league against the pass, so the Argos are going to need their D to show up, and show out.  The question is, will the Toronto Defenders answer the bell…
Pick: Calgary
BC @ Edmonton
Jonathon Jennings made a couple of young mistakes in their loss to Winnipeg but for the most part played well in his 2nd full game as a starter.  His 3rd game is going to test his decision making skills like no other.  This is not Saskatchewan or Winnipeg.  This is the Chris Jones, get in your face D that makes no secret about how aggressive they are going to be.  Really, the team as a whole are a nightmare to play against in Commonwealth Stadium, so the entire Lions squad is going to have to manufacture a herculean effort to knock off the Grey Cup hopefuls. 
If BC wants to continue to hold onto the 3rd Western Playoff spot they’ll need their Oline to pick up everything.  It’s one thing to have to make quick decisions as a QB, it’s another thing for Jennings to have to make his reads under duress.  The Lions front needs to have their communication on point, and may look to “slide protect” in order to move their young QB to a different launch point that isn’t under as much stress.  Andrew Harris will have to get his touches in as well.
All in all, this game has the makings of a blowout if Edmonton can get to Jennings EARLY, but if the Lions can keep the rookie clean for a while, and he settles; we may be in for a better game than we thought.
Pick: Edmonton
Hamilton @ Montreal
I’m really curious to see is the Alouettes actually put Kevin Glenn in the game on such short turnaround after today’s trade.  For a team that is trying to crossover, bringing Glenn into the fold was brilliant seeing as they only had to give up a 5th round draft selection.
The problem I have with the Als, or anyone that “achieves” the 3rd Western Playoff spot, is that they’ll run head first into either the defending Grey Cup Champs (who may have Juwan Simpson back), or the Edmonton Eskimos…sheesh…some reward that is.
Anyway, this will be the 3rd start for Jeff Matthews who showed some improvement (albeit against the Green and White) in his last outing.  Matthews actually finds himself in a spot similar to what Jennings (in BC) is in this week, where he’ll be up against a D that is aggressive and will throw a ton of different looks at the young QB.
Don’t sleep on this game, even though it falls on an NFL Sunday, because it’s got the makings of a physical pride fight.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that Montreal gets it done with a good defensive outing, and maybe some help from their Special Teams unit.
Pick: Montreal

Monday, 12 October 2015

Thanksgiving Mailbag!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone...
At we have a TON of things to be thankful for, and it all pertains to you guys.  Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to add this blog to your daily reading rituals.  It's nice, as a former pro, to talk ball with all of you and continue to build into the CFLs Greatest Fan Base.
While you're recovering from your Turkey Coma's and family get-togethers, we took a look at the questions that have come in since the Riders last game, and funnily enough, all 9 of them had to do with the same question!
We'll take a brief moment to address your main concerns, and maybe we'll throw it at Rod on my weekly spot as a guest on his Thanksgiving Day Sportscage show today at 4pm on 620 CKRM.
Talk to you all soon!!!
Via Twitter
·         What side of the ball would you target Free Agents? O or D
First and foremost, the Saskatchewan Roughriders need to name a GM, and then a Head Coach.  It’s impossible to negotiate with any free agents without presenting a solidified front in the Football Operations department.  There isn’t a Free Agent in his right mind that is going to commit to a team that can’t honestly tell them him who his coach will be, what his Coordinator will be running, and how he fits into the overall plans. 
The second concern for the Roughriders is that there aren’t any quick fixes to the situation that they’re in because there were a lot of holes in this year’s 2015 team.  The initial order of business, AND MOST IMPORTANT, will be to figure out who is going to remain with the club moving INTO 2016, and then either fill those spots from within or look outside (Free Agency).
From an outsiders point of view, one of the areas of concern is the Saskatchewan secondary both ‘nationally’, ‘internationally’ and scheme-wise (I say that because players need to be put in positions to make plays just as much as they’re asked to).  One of the glaring discrepancies over the last two weeks was the fact that if the Defensive Line couldn’t get home (sack the QB) there was players WIDE open all over the field.  Whether they played zone or man, it seemed as though the Riders coverage was constantly out of position to defend against any underneath routes, and definitely struggled against the deep ball. 
People have to remember that the Green and White DBs were asked to go through a very tough philosophical transition with the new set of rules, as it applied to the coverage aspect of the game.  What made the Riders so good in the past couple of years was their ability to lock down guys in man coverage, and unfortunately a couple of those same players appeared to struggle with how they were being asked to defend this year.
Now we have to be fair.  It isn’t just on the secondary, but if we’re talking NEED, then that’s the spot.
If we were to play “Arm-Chair GM”, I would target the DB positions.
Any other situation that transpires, in terms of positional groups and Free Agency, is going to involve a fair amount of speculation on my end.  The team may look to sign one of the High Value Canadian D-Tackles that may be looking for a pay-day, or they might check out what type of Offensive Linemen are kicking around; who knows?  In talking to a couple of my friends who are agents in the CFL, there is going to be some special talent available in February, and thankfully Saskatchewan remains as attractive as ever despite this year’s slide. 
As soon as the Saskatchewan Roughriders name their GM (#TeamOday) and fill the Head Coach position, things will start falling into place…Nothing happens until the Front Office is taken care of.