Thursday, July 2, 2015
- We are waking up to sunshine and mostly clear skies today. It's hard to believe the forest fires from Northern Saskatchewan blew smoke this far south but now there are reports the smoke has drifted as far south as Mississippi. What an interesting summer. We think the Riders are in a crisis, but 4,000 Saskatchewanians have been evacuated from their homes up north due to the blazes.
- The past five days are what keeps us coming back in sports. At least it does me anyway. If you'da told me a week ago that by July 1 Kevin Glenn would be the Riders' starting quarterback and Paul McCallum would be our kicker, I would have been booking you a spot in the looney bin. But that's where we're at and if you missed any of the latest Canada Day news, see the post below. To make a long story short, Chris Milo is out and Paul McCallum is in for the Riders' field goal department.
- In his 22nd CFL season and at the age of 45, Paul McCallum has heard all the jokes. Put it this way: McCallum's new teammate Nic Demski wasn't even born when Paul began his CFL career in 1993. Demski, the Riders' first round pick this year, was born in December of 1993.
- McCallum told the SportsCage on Wednesday that he'll be wearing #15 with the Riders, and will be staying at Carm Carteri's house.
- Paul Woldu wasn't out there running around on Day 1 of the practice week. It seems the Riders and Woldu couldn't come to an agreement suitable to both sides' liking. Things can change in a blink however, as we saw on Wednesday.
- Regardless, this is quite a dog's breakfast of a roster. It wasn't planned that way, but that's how it's turned out. It will be infinitely interesting to see how it all unfolds. Injuries have certainly evened the playing field across the West Division and there's still no reason to doubt the Riders will challenge for the 2015 Grey Cup.
- They still have to play much better on defense however. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had ZERO two-and-outs on offense in last week's 30-26 win at Regina which is a franchise first. The Bombers are also the first CFL team to do it since Hamilton in 2012. That was 001 B.K. (Before Kent).
- Drew Willy's 88% completion rate was also a Blue Bombers single-game record as well.
- Swaggerville. Willypeg.
- The CFL is keeping track of a new statistic, called "targets". It's fantastic and the NFL has been doing it for years. For instance, Bomber slotback Nick Moore was 100% last week because he was targeted six times and caught six passes. Meanwhile Rider receiver Jamel Richardson was 50% as he was targeted 12 times by Rider quarterbacks, but caught six passes.
- A train was running along Saskatchewan Drive on Wednesday, cutting off my usual route to Mosaic Stadium. So I cut through the Brandt Centre parking lot and weaved around towards Elphinstone Street. My jaw dropped when I saw the progress that's been made on the west side of the New Mosaic Stadium. It's simply mind-blowing how quickly this project is coming along. I'll get some pics for the MMG.
- If you haven't already, you'll be hearing a false rumour about the Riders moving into the new facility early because surely it'll be completed well before August of 2016. However a high-ranking Rider official told me they can't move in early. It's an impossibility because of contractual restrictions between the team, PCL and government. I'm trying to stay on top of this because I'm hearing it a lot.
- Week 2 in the CFL will be history-making so we should all stand up and take notice. When rookie Brandon Bridge starts at quarterback for Montreal Friday night when they host Calgary, he'll be the first Canadian to start a game since Giulio Caravatta of the B.C. Lions in 1996. As noted here a few weeks ago, Giulio is a champion of Canadian quarterbacks and is happy to see the watermark fall. Bridge isn't the first Canadian QB since Caravatta to appear in a game though. The Argos' Danny Brannagan did it in 2010 and Calgary's Brad Sinopoli did it in 2011.
- Bridge will be a ways behind Russ Jackson for the most starts by a Canadian QB in a CFL career however. Rusty's at 137.
- PARITY? All three non-playoff teams from last year won in Week 1: Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto. Meanwhile all 2014 semifinalists who played in Week 1 lost: Saskatchewan, Edmonton and Montreal.
- So far this season net offense is up 7% from last year. From 652 yards to 697.
- If the CFL wanted offense and points with these new rules, they got it. They got penalties too. There are an average of 30 penalties per game in 2015 compared to 2013 when it was 18.4.
- 11 of 13 single point convert attempts from the 32-yard line were made in Week 1.
- I've got to say I'm very impressed with the Calgary Stampeders. Just before their game-winning drive last week against Hamilton, Stampeders colour commentator Greg Peterson said on the radio, "We're going to see if these are still the championship-calibre Stampeders or if they're just another team." We found out they're still the class of the league. That's fine. November is when it matters.
- The way Stamps coach John Hufnagel was stomping down the sidelines Friday night to find Buddy Jackson - who took a 10-yard O.C. penalty from the bench to potentially take them out of field goal range in the last minute - he looked like my Dad trying to find me when I stuck a piece of paper in a Jack-o-Lantern on our kitchen table at the age of 10, and almost burnt the house down. Had the Stamps lost the game, a similar type of corporal discipline may have been administered.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers seemed to like the Riders' marketing slogan of 2013. The Cavs had the phrase "ALL IN" plastered across the entrance of their home stadium, Quicken Loans Arena. The Riders should be flattered.
- SAY WHAT #1? Weird quote from Phil Housley who was announced as part of the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame induction class on Monday. "Every year I've waited around by the phone waiting for a call from the Hall. Today I finally got it and I can't tell you how shocked I am."
- SAY WHAT #2? Rookie Rider receiver Devin Wilson was interviewed for the SportsCage about making the team in 2015. "I can't wait to get my ears wet in the CFL," Wilson told me. Say what?
- Congrats to WHL warhorse Lorne Molleken who was hired as coach of the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday. He was truly beaming over the phone when we had him on air on Tuesday. "Mooner" beat out Ryan McGill for the right to be Vancouver's sixth head coach in franchise history. But he's got a tall order getting the Giants back to the front of the pack.
- Regina's Boyd Gordon is back with the Arizona Coyotes. He was traded back to Phoenix from Edmonton in exchange for Lauri Korpikovski this week. Boyd will be on the SportsCage today.
- The nightmare is over for both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phil Kessel. As of Wednesday, he's a Pittsburgh Penguin. Now what to do about Phaneuf ...
- And finally kudos to the Regina Pats for doing the right thing and hiring Graham Tuer has a scout and liason to Hockey Regina this week. Graham's worked for the Warriors and Rockets since leaving the Pats but admits he always had a Pats tattoo on his butt. Welcome back Graham!
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!