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Monday, September 18, 2017

OUT OF THE TUNNEL


THE QB EDITION

With injuries, poor play, and articles on future Canadian quarterbacks, it seems like a good time for a quarterback edition of Out of the Tunnel.

We’ll begin in Hamilton where a pair of backups faced off with Brandon Bridge and the Riders grinding out a 27-19 win over Jeremiah Masoli and the Ti-Cats on Friday.

It was a tale of two halves for Bridge in his first start for Saskatchewan in place of the injured Kevin Glenn. The first half was a lights-out performance, going 16/21 for 178 yards and two touchdowns, putting the Green and White up 20-10 at the half.

In the second half the Mississauga, ON product was a very pedestrian 5/10 for 53 yards and one touchdown. Bridge was sacked twice and seven of the eight second half drives were two-and-outs.

In the end, the third year quarterback out of South Alabama did what he had to do for the victory and, with that win, the Riders took over fourth in the West Division and a potential playoff spot.

There are a couple ways to look at this Rider victory:

1) Is this a great team building its way, grinding out road wins that binds a team even more? Or...

2) With injuries piling up and nearly giving up a huge lead to a struggling Hamilton club, is this a harbinger of things to come?

Next week at Mosaic Stadium will answer some of these questions when the Calgary Stampeders come to town to meet the Riders (2:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).

CFL Notes (QB Edition):

- Darian Durant’s time in Montreal is starting to turn dark. He saw the bulk of his coaching staff fired last week, and he followed it up going 0/6 and was sacked twice in the Alouettes 29-11 home loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Sunday. Drew Willy took over in the second quarter and didn’t fare much better.

The Redblacks started backup Drew Tate in place of an injured Trevor Harris but Tate was crushed near the end of the first half and a well-travelled Ryan Lindley took over in his first CFL action.

- A great ground game won the day for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday in their 34-26 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos. James Wilder ran for 190 yards on just 11 carries and a touchdown for the Double Blue in the victory, while Mike Reilly was solid in the loss with 323 yards and a pair of scores for Edmonton in their fifth straight loss.

- Jonathan Jennings was intercepted three times by a stout Calgary Stampeder defence in the B.C. Lions 27-13 defeat at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Saturday night. Bo Levi Mitchell didn’t have to do any heavy lifting for this one with a couple of touchdown passes and no interceptions for the Stamps.

- Heading into Week 14, the QB position will dictate the final seven weeks of the season.

Teams with no questions:
Edmonton - Reilly
Calgary - Mitchell
Winnipeg – Nichols
Toronto – Ray

Teams with question marks:
Saskatchewan – Will Kevin Glenn return to the lineup for a huge West Division showdown against Calgary?
Montreal – Is Drew Willy the new starter over Darian Durant?
Hamilton – Looks like Ti-Cats will ride Jeremiah Masoli the rest of the season over Zach Collaros.
Ottawa – Drew Tate and Trevor Harris look like they will be out for a long stint, so hello Ryan Lindley.
B.C. – Jonathan Jennings has not played well since returning from injury and has taken some big hits. Will we see Alex Ross any time soon?

The Canadian QB Debate

 A pair of great articles by CFL.ca’s Chris O’Leary here heated up the conversation about Canadian quarterbacks and the future of homegrown talent at that position. One focused on a current Canadian CFL quarterback in Brandon Bridge and the other on a potential future CFLer, Noah Picton (University of Regina Rams) and the recent history of Canadian quarterbacks.

Sparking these articles is the success of Brandon Bridge and the Stampeders, Andrew Buckley. Bridge became the first Canadian born quarterback to start and win a game in over 30 years (last one to do so was Greg Vavra for Calgary in 1985) and proved that he belongs in the CFL at quarterback. While Buckley has solidified himself as the backup to Bo Levi Mitchell.

The next crop of Canadian quarterbacks is waiting in the wings, but will they get a shot and are they any better than their American brethren?

There are a lot of roadblocks in the way for U-Sports quarterbacks. Mainly is the quality of play in Canada. While it has improved leaps and bounds in the past 20 years, in the eyes of most CFL scouts, it’s only equivalent to mid-level Division Two play in the U.S.

The skill-set is there at the quarterback spot across the country, but the jump from USports to the CFL is an incredible one. It’s not impossible, it just needs time and patience by CFL teams. Both are usually in limited supply. Which is why young Canadians who have the potential at the high school level, are starting to drift to finishing their prep career in the U.S. before heading to either a junior college or the NCAA.

Justin Dunk had it right. There needs to be an influx of QB specific camps and year-round training (very much like goaltending) before quarterbacking in Canada can get to a consistent level. Only then will you begin to see a few more pivots carrying the flag.

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Canada West Diary

In the only second half points by either team, Sam Varao recovered an Atlee Simon fumble in the end zone to secure the Regina Rams' (2-1) second win of the season 28-18 over the Alberta Golden Bears (0-3) on Saturday. Noah Picton found seven different Ram receivers in his 334-yard passing effort with Mitch Picton catching both touchdown passes.

Michael O’Connor broke out for the first time this season. He had over 400-yards passing and a pair of scores in the Thunderbirds' 31-10 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies. What may be more impressive is almost 10,000 fans attended Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

The Calgary Dinos continue to flex their Canada West muscles, going on the road and smashing the Manitoba Bisons 76-17. The Dino defence was front and centre again forcing five Bison turnovers and collecting eight sacks.

This Week:
Saturday, September 23rd:
UBC at Alberta (1:00pm)
Manitoba at Regina (2:00pm)
Saskatchewan at Calgary (4:00pm)

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PFC Wrap

The top of the PFC has become a three-horse race. The Edmonton Huskies continue to lead the way with their fifth straight win to begin the season, knocking off their cross-town rival Wildcats 40-7.

Victor St. Pierre Laviolette ran wild over the Winnipeg Rifles on Saturday as the Regina Thunder needed every one of his 214 yards on the ground and two touchdowns for the 29-24 victory. The win upped the Thunder record to 4-1 keeping track with the Saskatoon Hilltops for second in the conference.

The final game of the weekend saw the Hilltops go on the road to Calgary and roll to a 41-9 win.

The top four teams in the PFC will face off against each other this weekend, while the Edmonton Wildcats and Calgary Colts welcome OFC teams to town.

This Week:
Saturday, September 23rd:
Hamilton Hurricanes (OFC) at Edmonton Wildcats (7:00pm)
Sunday, September 24th:
Winnipeg Rifles at Saskatoon Hilltops (1:00pm)
London Beefeaters (OFC) at Calgary Colts (12:00pm)
Regina Thunder at Edmonton Huskies (1:00pm)

Canadian to Watch in the NCAA

Nathan Rourke – QB
Ohio University
6’2” 209lbs.
Hometown – Oakville, Ont.
Class – Soph.

Keeping with the QB edition of Out of the Tunnel, we will focus on Ohio Bobcat, Nathan Rourke. He is one of the examples of QBs heading to the United States to finish high school at a big-time academy. Rourke played high school in Alabama before a conference all-star season at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.

Rourke is currently in a quarterback rotation with another sophomore, Quinton Maxwell but got the start this past weekend in a 42-30 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

(By RodPedersen.com Staff)

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

QB's & injuries will dictate the final 7 games. Riders are without a bye the last 11 weeks & that will test them mentally & physically. Bombers just had a bye after 12 straight weeks & O'Shea admitted the team was mentally spent. With 9 players coming out in Hamilton, how many are going to miss some games? How many play nanged up? Injuries can occur over a long stretch like this - Riders may be seeing the start of this. We'll have to see how it turns out. Some of the teams with questions @ QB are likely looking @ changes there next season which should quell the talk about Franklin having to go to Regina. There'll be bidders. I feel for Durant - I honestly can't see him as a starter next year & if he's still wanted somewhere, he's in for a big drop in $$$.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Justin, but why does not the CFL have specific QB camps in the States, there's a lot of kids down there that would love to get into pro camp and have the atheltic ability for our league.

With that said and with our rules if they get the training before hand it wont be a shock when they get here and it will build foundation for teams to upgrade.

D in YEG but a RIDER PRIDER

Del Litke said...

Rod, there must be a logical reason why a Canadian QB is not included in the import ratio. I just cannot figure out what it is. Jon Cornish became a ratio buster at running back and now Canadian running backs are pretty common. In fact, on Saturday the Riders had three Canadians in their offensive backfield on a number of occasions. If your Canadian QB is one of your top five Canadians, you will play him more rather than plugging in your 10th best Canadian somewhere - particularly in injury situations. Please explain the rationale for the exemption and how it develops young, Canaidan QB's. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

One difference I see from Calgary D is constant pressure (ie) NOT giving the QB any time to get in a rhythm or have time to get comfortable in the pocket. Are you listening teams that employ a 3 man rush? A 3 man is different from a 3-4 D where the 4th rusher is a linebacker usually a different one each time not everyone drop into coverage ala prevent defence. Can you tell I hate the 3 man rush?
Durant was most successful when he had Cory Sheets a big threat all the time. Think back to all the other years. Not nearly as successful. Durant really hasn't played much in the last 3 years. I am surprised he is not injured. Maybe there is a loss of desire? Time to hang 'em up Durant.
Jennings is not the same QB he was before the injury. BC doesn't have Lulay to come in and challenge so could be in trouble going forward.
Bridge's fast start couldn't be continued all game long. OC may have become less aggressive, loss of edge or Hamilton may have figured the game plan and made adjustments.Should be an interesting fall.

Anonymous said...

James Franklin isn't leaving edmonton. If you followed closely you would know that. The rumours can go away.

Anonymous said...

It is funny how everyone questions the Riders right now, whether they are good or bad. Well for my dollar they are the third best team in the CFL. They are better than edmonton who has lost five straight! Does BC really scare anyone? The east division?

The Riders are getting betetr each week, regardless of what happens this Sunday. No team in the CFL has measured up to Calgary so why would the Riders fate be dicatted on this single match.

For the record, I think the Riders win 28-24.

CM said...

Riders cant beat Calgary playing 10-12 Canadians like they had to against Hamilton. So depends who gets healthy will dictate how competitive the game Sunday is. Would like to see an import running back that can convert on 2nd and 2. They really miss Marshall. Ask Jonesy who his backup import DB's are. You will lose everytime if Hecht has to cover McDaniel.

Anonymous said...

So Reilly is on the way out then?

Anonymous said...

And you are who? Franklin's agent? You don't know squat!

Anonymous said...

Not enough good Canadian quarterbacks! PERIOD!

Anonymous said...

Anyone out there who had predicted that the Riders would appear in the power rankings at #3 at any point in the 2017 season? Rebuild worked and the tweaking continues. Time is ripe for Chad Owens to get into action!

Anonymous said...

In 2018 Edmonton will see one of these two scenarios:

1) the departure of Mike Reilly through an off-season trade and the signing of Franklin to a new contract as the starter or

2) the departure of Franklin to either Sask or Montreal via free agency.

Rationale: the Eskimos cannot fork over a large part of their salary cap for two QB's and Franklin will want to make some good coin.

The dilemma for the Esks is whether to go with a young QB as their future franchise leader or stay with the Great Reilly as he ages. The gamble on a young QB can be seem by what has happened in BC.

Anonymous said...

Notice how the CFL ranks 2 current Rider QB's (at 3 and 7) ahead of Durant (10th.) Bridge is no Durant (yet) but it is interesting.
LF

Anonymous said...

Montreal is on the cuff for $400k for their awesome, off season QB signing. Franklin is not going there.

Anonymous said...

Franklin has a connection with Chris Jones. How close, we don't know but who wouldn't want to play in an awesome stadium cheered by Rider Nation. I would want to get out of town and away from that unhinged Maas!

Anonymous said...

DD looked awesome in 08, 09 and 10, before sheets arrived. Just sayin - get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

U do realize CFL player contracts are not guaranteed right? MTL could sign Franklin and dump DD the next day with little to no salary implications.

Anonymous said...

Two things that the Riders need to look into:

The policy in Atlanta's new stadium to keep their concessions prices very low such as popcorn, Nachos and pop & water at $2.

The use of a trained dog from a local dog club in a team jersey to grab the kick-off tee as done at Boise State football games.

Anonymous said...

For the Riders to beat Calgary, it will have to be an outstanding performance by the defense. If they get that they can compete with Calgary, and the Riders always show up at home. In the last 5 games Calgary's offense is averaging 27 points per game, Riders averaging 37. Calgary's defense last 5 games is allowing an average of 15 points, the Riders 26. Unless Calgary's defense has an off day, look for a low scoring game. 24 - 20 RIDERS!!

Anonymous said...

Franklin won't make top dollar yet as he really hasn't played that much, but he won't want to sit around another year behind Reilly. He'll sign as a free agent in Sask, MTL or HAM. Sask has the edge with his relationship with Jones.

Paul Owens said...

Could we List Bridge as starting receiver and an american receiver as starting QB and then just line up differently? I understand that is not the point of getting "credit" for starting a Canadian QB argument, but at the very least it would help our ratio...

Anonymous said...

The Franklin "connection" with Jones is overrated. Note Bowman, Sewell, Sherritt & other big Eskimo free agents in 2016 didn't go to Regina despite talk @ that time that Rider receivers better pick up their game when Bowman comes. Franklin ONLY played after Reilly got hurt AND Nichols didn't play well & got traded. And then he ONLY played while Reilly was injured. The Eskimos WILL trade him before he gets to free agency just like what happened with BC trading Reilly & Jones trading Durant. It's alteady been suggested that Argos, Als as well as Riders are interested as will be Hamilton. If you think he's coming to Riders it is far from a sure thing.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who believes the Eskimos will let an asset like Franklin get to free agency w/o trading his rights is dreaming. Do you think at minimum a team wouldn't give up a draft pick to get 1st crack at signing him? When that happens when wad the last time that free agent didn't sign with his new team? Name one. A new stadium is nice but means very little. Calgary has the worst stadium now & has no problem signing free agents. If the money is there, they sign. As a QB who would you rsther play for - Trestman or Jones? Don't forget Jones has burned some bridges with a lot of ex-Riders like Getzlaf, Lawrence, Steinhauer, Korrey Jones who all play with Franklin. Don't think players don"t talk. And Franklin chats regularly for advice with ex-Eskimo Warren Moon. Jones hss no sdvantage in the Franklin situation. Unless he can convince the Eskimos with a very good offer to trade his rights to the Riders, they'll want to trade him to an Eastern club.

Anonymous said...

A lot of fuss over Franklin who has not really proven himself as a starter or finisher.