Friday, August 06, 2010

The Whole 110 Yards: Maciocia left holding the bag

Edmonton Eskimos' fans wear paper bags during a CFL football game against the B.C. Lions in Edmonton July 30, 2010.  REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber (CANADA - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Photo: Some Edmonton Eskimos fans resorted to the ever-popular "bag on the head" look last Friday against the B.C. Lions. The Eskimos came away with a 28-25 win, their first of the season, but general manager Danny Maciocia was fired after the game anyway [Dan Riedlhuber, Reuters]

Welcome to another edition of The Whole 110 Yards! Here's my breakdown of all of Week 5's CFL action and previews of the coming week.

Game of the week: Edmonton 28, B.C. 25

This was a surprisingly interesting Friday Night Football clash between the 1-3 Lions and the 0-4 Eskimos. There wasn't a lot of offence at first, but there was a little juice added after a lightning storm forced an early halftime break.

B.C. took a 25-21 lead with eight minutes to go when Yonus Davis (San Jose State) returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, but Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray (Sacramento State) found Kelly Campbell (Georgia Tech) for a 46-yard gain on the ensuing drive and then hit Andre Talbot (Wilfrid Laurier) on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Trailing 28-25, the Lions had an excellent chance to win or at least tie the game on their final drive, but quarterback Travis Lulay (Montana State) fumbled the ball and Edmonton recovered and ran out the clock.

For B.C., it was a very disappointing performance offensively, especially from Lulay. After a promising debut as a starter the week before against Toronto, where he completed 26 of 40 passes for 330 yards (but was picked off twice), Lulay's production fell off a cliff this week. He finished with 16 completions on 26 attempts for 134 yards, was picked off twice and fumbled three times (only losing one, however). He did get things done on the ground, though, rushing seven times for 62 yards and a touchdown, and he could have picked up a win with a little more luck, but he'll need to be better to be a serviceable starter in the CFL.

For Edmonton, their quarterback looked like the Ricky Ray of old, not the Rachael Ray version that's shown up more frequently this season. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, although he was picked off once. He also spread the ball around: Fred Stamps (Louisiana-Lafayette) had five catches for 118 yards, while Campbell had eight for 97 and Talbot had six for 75.

Despite the win, though, Eskimos general manager Danny Maciocia was fired the next day [The Province]. It's tough to question the decision considering that the Eskimos have struggled mightily in recent years, and an 0-4 start is never good for anyone's job prospects. Moreover, the Eskimos' problems this year have been more thanks to personnel than scheme or coaching in my mind, so it makes sense to axe Maciocia before he could fire head coach Richie Hall in an attempt to save his own skin. The timing is very curious, but this may be a good move for Edmonton.

Other games:

Calgary 23, Winnipeg 20:
Both teams have had their share of struggles this year, but this was still surprisingly close. Calgary has a talented roster that just hasn't produced the way they can, while Winnipeg's in more of a rebuilding mode after the disastrous Mike Kelly era, but the Bombers kept this very close and could have come away with the win. Stampeders' pivot Henry Burris (Temple) had his best game of the season so far, completing 28 of 38 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, but the Calgary running back tandem of Joffrey Reynolds (Houston) and Jon Cornish (Kansas) was held to only 39 yards on 11 carries. For Winnipeg, RB Fred Reid (Mississippi State) was the key figure, rushing 12 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Saskatchewan 37, Hamilton 24:

It was a night of individual efforts for Hamilton. Wide receiver Arland Bruce III (Minnesota) tied a CFL record with 16 catches for 272 yards, quarterback Kevin Glenn (Illinois State) threw for 425 yards and three touchdowns (but was picked off twice), and slotback Dave Stala (Saint Mary's) delivered the touchdown celebration of the year so far:

Still, the Tiger-Cats fell in a game that wasn't even close. Saskatchewan may have lost the statistical battle, but they won the scoreboard one, and that's what really matters in the end.

Montreal 41, Toronto 10: Not too much you can really say about this one. Montreal's still a dominant force, and Toronto isn't, despite their improvement this year. The Alouettes look to still be the class of the East Division.

Matchup of the Week: Saskatchewan at Montreal (7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific tonight)

This rematch of last year's Grey Cup has the potential to be one of the best regular-season games so far this year. Montreal and Saskatchewan have both found their form from last campaign after slow starts, and they again have looked like two of the league's strongest teams. If they both come out to play, we could see some fireworks tonight. Montreal's impressed me more to date, though, so I think they take this.

Pick: Montreal

Other games:

Toronto at Edmonton: (tonight, 10 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Pacific)

Look for the Eskimos to build off last week's momentum in this one. Can Toronto rebound from a thumping by Montreal to come away with a road win? My guess is no.

Pick: Edmonton

Winnipeg at Hamilton: (tomorrow, 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific)

It's another battle of two of the league's most inconsistent teams. Both of these teams have looked very good at times, but very weak at other times. Much will depend on who gets the stronger quarterbacking performance, and I'd bet on Kevin Glenn ahead of Steven Jyles.

Pick: Hamilton

Calgary at B.C.:

The Lions are feeling the heat, and they'll have to start producing some wins soon. This isn't going to be easy, though, as Calgary finally lived up to their potential last week. However, if the Lions get a boost from the home crowd at Empire Field and a half-decent quarterbacking performance, they just might be able to come away with the upset win.

Pick: B.C.

Thanks for reading The Whole 110 Yards! Tune in next week for more.

1 comment:

  1. Can't say I am too sympathetic with Edmonton football fans.
    So you've got a 1-5 does that taste?
    You think this is miserable?
    Try being a CFL fan in Ottawa.
    20+ seasons of losing football before the team folds.
    Then the Renegades arrive with new hope that seemed to last all of five minutes.
    It quickly became apparent the Renegades were the old Riders with a different name.
    "Meet the new boss....same as the old boss"?
    In the Renegades case, it was true when the Gleeb Dweebs bought the team again!
    Not surprisingly, football in Ottawa died again shortly thereafter.
    So forgive me Eskimo fan for caring not a whit for your current plight.
    A last place team?
    Half empty stands?
    Missing the post season ever more frequently when that never happened before?
    Well... now you know how the other half lives...or should I say, LIVED!