Friday, May 27, 2016
SCRUFFY'S THIS 'N THAT
The hashtag #isitjuneyet can be replaced by #junehasarrived. CFL training camps are starting, and I think it is safe to say no team is happier to put the 2015 season in the rearview mirror than the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a new season is here. In 2013, no one wanted training camp to come because Rider Nation wanted to keep celebrating the Grey Cup victory. In 2016, Rider Nation wanted training camp to start December 1 after a miserable 3-15 season. As camp begins, every team has questions including the Riders. Here are my top ones:
1. IS BRETT SMITH THE BACKUP QB?
Knock on wood Darian Durant's injury problems are behind him and he can play a full season. If that happens, we won't need to see the backup get meaningful time under center. After a 2015 which saw Smith elevated from 3rd string to be the starter after Kevin Glenn was hurt. He managed to throw for almost 2-thousand yards and 15 TD's which really wasn't that bad on what was a bad team. At the end of last season, he believed he had done enough to show he could come into 2016 as Darian's backup. Did he show Chris Jones he has what it takes? I would have to think Smith gets the number 2 spot because there is no experience there should Durant suffer another injury. BJ Coleman is the only other QB on the roster right now, but you would have to think another arm or two are coming in. There is also talk the Riders wouldn't mind getting Rakeem Cato from Montreal. A Smith-Cato battle would be interesting.
2. WHO IS THE STARTING RB?
It would appear Curtis Steele gets that honor, but I am guessing that isn't written in stone. Matt Walter did a great job in Calgary when he had to take over for Jon Cornish, but can he be the number one guy? Having a Canadian starter at running back would free up an American elsewhere so he could very well get the spot becaue of nationality. I also wonder where Kendial Lawrence fits in. Could he be a Corey Holmes type player?
3. WHO IS THE KICKER?
This might be one of the best battles in training camp. Tyler Crapigna was no slouch in the CIS, and once he was given his shot the McMaster product made all 4 of his field goals. The team then went out and drafted UBC's Quinn Van Gylswyk who was likely the best kicker in the CIS in 2015. I have seen this guy play enough to know he has CFL written all over him. I was surprised to see the Riders take him in the draft because of Crapigna. You can't keep both. Van Gylswyk can punt too, so he could have a leg up(no pun intended) going in,
4. WHAT WILL THE SECONDARY LOOK LIKE?
What will the secondary look like? The bigger question might be what will the starting 12 on defence look like. Yes, it will be a lot better than last year which shouldn't be hard. Shawn Lemon and Justin Capicotti will be the ends. Greg Jones and Jeff Knox Junior will be two of the three linebackers and I would think your secondary will include Ed Gainey, Matt Webster and Otha Foster, although Foster could be one of the starting linebackers.
With the exception of Knox and Webster, that starting 12 will have a whole new look to it. Is it too much change back there? After last year, one would say no, but how long will it take for this group to be a cohesive unit.
5. WHAT ROLE DOES JOSIAH ST. JOHN PLAY?
While the CFL's number one draft pick has not signed a deal with the green-and-white yet, one has to think he will and that he will be ready to go for the start of camp on Sunday. Is there a thought he could be a starter after his career at Oklahoma? Ben Heenan started after being selected as the #1 pick overall didn't he? The Riders had their choice at offensive line and they took St. John for a reason and I am guessing that reason was they thought he could contribute immediately.
Isn't it great to talk Riders in earnest again?
-- ESPN's Stephen A Smith apologized to Canadians after the Raptors won Game 4 of the NBA East final against Cleveland. The Raptors should apologize to Canadians for laying one great big dinosaur egg in Game 5. WHAT WAS THAT? I think this basically summed it up....
Is "embarassing" even the word to use for what happened in Game 5? How can a team that was so good at home, be so bad on the road. Even if Toronto should win Game 6, does anyone have confidence in them pulling out a Game 7 win? By the way, was that George Yannitsos yelling at Dwane Casey in Game 5. My eyes had to be playing tricks on me!
Still with the Raptors, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph are taking a lot of heat for being at a Cleveland casino (which was attached to their hotel) until 2 AM on the night of Game 5. Did they have a curfew? If not, there is no problem, but if there was, there's a big problem. If there wasn't a curfew, someone should ask coach Dwane Casey why that was. Hey, Carroll and Joseph could have done worse and it isn't like they were far away from their hotel. However, the message it sends is somewhat wrong---especially when you are the only two who have really been playoff tested.
-- Is it just me or was the Weyburn KFC buffet story that broke this week something you would see in a Corner Gas episode? How Saskatchewan!
-- The Penguins and the Sharks in the Stanley Cup final. YAYYYY!!!
-- It is a mock draft, but the website draftsite.com has Pats forward Sam Steel going 52nd overall to the Flyers. Teammate Adam Brooks is slated to go in the 5th round to Boston at pick 134. This same draft has Warriors forward Brett Howden going to Florida at 23 and if that holds true, he would be playing alongside his brother.
-- Is TSN televising CFL exhibition games? If they are, I missed the memo.
-- I wasn't able to attend the Glen Johnson visit this week as he showed everyone his rules presentation video. Some say the "eye in the sky" isn't going to be as big a problem as first thought, but I need to see a game before I make any decisions on this initiative.
-- The Regina Red Sox open things up Sunday afternoon at Currie Field against the Weyburn Beavers as another WMBL season starts. Let's hope for a decent afternoon for ball and let's see a good crowd for the season opener.
-- All the best to "Tragically Hip" lead singer Gord Downie as he goes through his battle with cancer. I find it unbelievable he is going on tour, and I find it disappointing that tour won't stop in Saskatchewan. I am not as big a Hip fan as others I know, but there is no denying what he is on the Canadian landscape and what he means!
Have a great weekend everyone!