The August long weekend has three games on the radar and my fervent hope is that offence is back from summer vacation.
One of the traditional strong suits of the CFL has always been lots of offence on a big field, but that element of the game has been missing and presumed bound for a milk carton in the early season.
CFL defences have gotten lighter and faster over the past few years as an adaptation to the speed of the game on a big field. Many of the outside linebackers are former defensive backs who are lucky to push 200 pounds on the scales. These guys can flat-out fly in cover schemes and are nimble enough to avoid annihilation by 300-pound linemen in blitz schemes.
Extra pressure comes from lighter and faster rush ends in the CFL.
These guys have more real estate in our league to avoid constant trench wars with the big offensive tackles who probably have at least 50 pounds on the defensive ends. It’s a little like trying to win a scrap with an older brother when you’re 10 and he’s 15. That’s when you learn the importance of foot speed.
The lesson was not lost on CFL defensive co-ordinators.
The downside to undersized defences appears when an offence starts to dominate the line of scrimmage and establishes a run game against the small guys. Size matters when a giant O-line smacks around the little defensive guys like bullies on a playground. The net result is a generous amount of fun for both the bullies and O-linemen, some of whom may have apprenticed as playground bullies.
The weekend games include a couple of early season grudge matches as B.C. travels to Hamilton and Winnipeg goes to Toronto.
I doubt whether B.C. is too happy these days after a humiliating loss to the Stampeders and an earlier loss to the Ticats, but is there much that they can do about their current situation? I think the correct answer is no because the Lions have slept through many nights already on the football field.
Toronto will be a stingy host for the hapless Bombers on Saturday.
Toronto is a pretty strong defensive team and the prospect of another game against Winnipeg must have the Argos thinking player of the week honours. The fact that Michael Bishop figures in the Bomber offensive scheme is solid proof that there is life after a clinically dead football career that should never have been resuscitated.
I guess that it doesn’t really matter that Bishop doesn’t know the Bomber playbook — he has never really learned any team’s playbook.
Last but certainly not least, the Roughriders will visit Cowtown and meet the rapidly improving Stampeders. The Stamps have turned into killers on defence with pressure from rush end Odell Willis and assassins like Brandon Browner in the secondary.
Joffrey Reynolds is a monster in the run game behind a solid O-line that likes to whack defences while they open up run lanes.
The ’Riders have a pop gun offence and the worst run defence in the league. This appears to be the biggest mismatch of the weekend. It isn’t — the ’Riders are better than their record and the Stamps are not. ’Riders win this one.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose CFL column appears Tuesdays and Fridays in the Advocate. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com