The past weekend answered a few questions and provided a few surprises about the 2010 CFL season. Let’s have a look back at the four games.
Toronto hosted Hamilton on Friday night and the biggest surprise was the size of the crowd. Over 25,000 people attended the game; an astounding number for a CFL game in the kingdom of the Maple Leaf. One can assume that the extra bodies were there to cheer on the guy at halftime, and his attempt to win a million bucks. He literally fell short from 50 yards, but he won a sports car from 30 yards.
He was the highlight of a dull game in which Argo quarterback Cleo Lemon proved that old NFL passers cannot learn new tricks like the CFL pass game. An injury to Toronto tailback Cory Boyd and savvy Hamilton special teams meant zero chance of an Argonaut victory.
And Toronto lived up to the bargain.
The Saturday game featured two desperate West Division teams in a battle for third place and a playoff spot.
The biggest surprise of this game was the transformation of current Eskimo pivot Ricky Ray into former Eskimo quarterback Tracy Ham.
Ray ran for well over 100 yards and threw for slightly more yards than he ran against the Lions. He was a one-man balanced attack.
Nobody expected Ricky Ray to look like George Reed on a football field, but it helped Edmonton win a crucial game that had a large body count by the last buzzer. Football is a violent way to earn a living, and both teams lost players for the rest of the season.
The best 4-11 team in pro football lost to the best 11-4 team in the CFL on Sunday as Winnipeg bowed to the Alouettes.
The best quarterback in the CFL is Anthony Calvillo, and one of his strengths is to spread the around the love with his receivers. Calvillo uses everybody on offence that is eligible to catch a pigskin, including his fullbacks and tailbacks.
Great quarterbacks know that an attack-style defence like the Bombers possess can be exploited with play action and pressure release to his running backs. He worked his pass game like a magician against the Bombers. Meanwhile, the Bombers failed to capitalize on an Alouette high-risk style of defence and lost another close game. The culture of winning is still a mystery to Winnipeg.
The final game of the weekend was a western showdown for first place between Calgary and Saskatchewan.
When the smoke cleared, only one team was still standing, and they deserved the win. Calgary was the best gunfighter in this shootout, despite a closer score than evidenced by the actual game.
The Roughriders are a small team on defence that is supposed to rely on team speed to make the play. Welcome to 2009, because the 2010 Rider team is too small to defend against the run. The bizarre Gary Etcheverry defense puts 225-pound tackles like Kitwana Jones against 300-pound plus interior lineman.
The Riders are too small across the front seven. They can’t handle a run game and they put little pressure on quarterbacks with stunt schemes. This is a slow-moving disaster for the team that forgot how to tackle. See you on Friday.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose columns appear on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com