The Whole 110 Yards is back! Here's analysis of Week 2 in the CFL, and previews of the three games still to come in Week 3. Also, I'll be running the Friday Night Football live chat for tonight's game between Winnipeg and Hamilton game over at CFL.ca, with Jann Shreve of BCLionsDen.ca.
Game of the Week:
Toronto 36, Winnipeg 34
Last week's Friday night game showcased the high-scoring action we've come to expect from the CFL, but that was perhaps surprising given the teams involved. Both the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been known for inept offences in the past few years, but they put on an impressive show Friday. The Buck Pierce Era appears in full swing in Winnipeg, as the former New Mexico State and B.C. Lions quarterback has settled in nicely under centre for the Bombers. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns despite being picked off once. Perhaps more impressive were his seven scrambles for 103 yards and a touchdown; Pierce never had much of a reputation as a rushing QB in B.C., but that may have been thanks to the offensive scheme and his frequent concussions. He was running well and running smart on Friday though, often sliding to avoid big hits, and was named the league's offensive player of the week as a result.
Oddly enough, Pierce's performance wasn't good enough to beat the Argonauts. Toronto's offensive ineptitude has meant that hanging 34 points on them is usually a guaranteed win, but it wasn't this time around. Quarterback Cleo Lemon, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and Arkansas State Red Wolves, turned in an acceptable performance, completing 15 of 23 passes for 162 yards without an interception. The real offensive star for the Argos was running back Cory Boyd, though, a former South Carolina Gamecock who's also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos, continued his campaign to become the most popular "CB" athlete in Toronto Friday, rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. If he keeps that up, maybe it won't be long before Toronto forgets all about CB4's exit [Eric Koreen, National Post].
Calgary 23, Hamilton 22
It certainly wasn't the prettiest game, but Calgary got it done against the Tiger-Cats. Their offensive woes continued, though, with quarterback Henry Burris (Temple) only completing 24 of his 37 passes for 257 yards. He threw two touchdowns, but fumbled once, was picked off once and could have been intercepted several other times. Kevin Glenn (Illinois State) was much better for Hamilton, completing 26 of 34 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown, but the difference in this one was the kickers. Sandro DeAngelis (Nebraska), the former Stampeders' star Hamilton signed in the off-season, struggled against his old team, only making two of four field-goal attempts. His replacement in Calgary, rookie kicker Rob Maver (Guelph), continued his impressive start to the year with a three-for-three performance on field goals, including the crucial game-winning kick.
Saskatchewan 37, B.C. 18
B.C. opened their new stadium to almost uniformly positive reviews Saturday night. There were some issues, including transportation and lineups, but those were largely overshadowed by the beautiful setting and the novelty of outdoor football in B.C. Unfortunately, those great things couldn't overshadow the home team's lacklustre on-field performance. The Lions were in the game for most of the first half, and were trailing 13-10 near the end of the first half when quarterback Casey Printers (Texas Christian) left with a thigh bruise. The team fell apart without him; backup Travis Lulay, formerly of the Montana State Bobcats and the Berlin Thunder, completed nine of 15 passes for 197 yards and a TD, but most of that came on a long TD pass late in the game. It was the defence that really let B.C. down, though: Darian Durant (North Carolina) picked it apart with short passes to the tune of 252 yards and a touchdown. Saskatchewan's looking very good early on, and the rest of the West appears to be struggling to catch up.
Montreal 33, Edmonton 23
Montreal struggled a bit early on in this one, and even trailed going into the fourth quarter, but in typical Alouette fashion, they took care of business. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo (Utah State) looked more human than usual, and even threw a pick, but he got it done in the end, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Ray (Sacramento State) threw for 340 yards and a touchdown for the Eskimos, but he was intercepted twice. Edmonton also couldn't get it done in the red zone and had to settle for field goals, which hurt them in the end.
Off-field story of the week:
The Winnipeg beer snake!
This inventive way for Winnipeg fans to display that they were getting bombed was pretty impressive. It got media coverage all over the place. Unfortunately, Winnipeg shortly reverted to No Fun Allowed mode and subsequently banned the snakes, citing safety concerns.
Matchup to watch: Montreal at B.C., 10 p.m. Eastern Friday
Both of these teams haven't performed up to expectations so far. Hopefully, that will change for one team tonight. Montreal hasn't won in B.C. since 2000, but they've looked much better recently than the Lions, and they don't have to contend with the crowd noise of B.C. Place any more. Can they snap the slump?
Winnipeg at Hamilton (on now)
Saskatchewan at Edmonton (Saturday, 4 p.m. Eastern)
Past games: Toronto 27, Calgary 24
Predictions: BC over MTL, HAM over WPG, SSK over EDM
Last week: 2-2
Thanks for reading! Tune in again next week for more of The Whole 110 Yards!