Tuesday, November 7, 2017
10 THINGS I THINK I THINK FOR CAPITAL FLEET
2 - ODDS N' ENDS: The Roughriders' fourth-place record in the West is better than all four teams in the East ... Ottawa and Saskatchewan split their 2-game season series, each winning in the other's park, and each team scoring 50 total points! The match-up is razor-thin ... The forecast for Sunday at TD Place Stadium calls for snow flurries and +3 degrees ... These two teams haven't met in the playoffs since the 1976 Grey Cup (see: Tony Gabriel).
3 - KG VS TH: One disparity is at the quarterback position. The Riders' Kevin Glenn is 3-7 as a playoff starter while the RedBlacks' Trevor Harris is making his first career playoff start. No doubt, the competitive fire burns brightly for both. Glenn was spurned as Ottawa's expansion starting quarterback in 2014 but more importantly, he's still chasing his first Grey Cup ring in his 17th season. Motivation won't be a problem for him, nor will it be for Harris who wants to prove that he's a big game QB.
4 - D.C. CHILLIN': Riders leading receiver Duron Carter has been a particular thorn in Ottawa's side. In the 2-game season series, Duron has caught 16 passes for a whopping 320 yards. The flamboyant Rider MVP has flipped back-and-forth between offense and defense in recent weeks but it says here he'll pose the biggest threat for Ottawa at WR rather than at CB. Once the Riders begin the practice week on Wednesday, we'll start to learn the Riders' plans for DC.
5 - SPEAKING OF: Unfortunately injuries are a major factor leading into this game. The RedBlacks really are only missing WR Brad Sinopoli and DB Jerell Gavins while the Rider Injured List looks like an All Star team. What's the status of Brendon Labatte, Naaman Roosevelt, Nic Demski, Trent Richardson, Cameron Marshall, Derek Dennis, Sam Eguavoen, et al? We won't know until Day 1 of the practice week.
6 - SPINNER SPENCER: The Riders will have to be on the lookout for RedBlacks WR/KR Diontae Spencer. The McNeese State product recently set a CFL record for combined yards (496) surpassing the old mark of 474 set by Winnipeg's Albert Johnson III in 2001.
7 - ZALMER CHUBB: Chris Jones raised eyebrows last week when he referenced former high school football teammate Zalmer Chubb from South Pittsburg, TN. Jones said he's the greatest athlete he's ever seen, mentioning "He could dunk a basketball in Grade 6". Jones explained their head coach's style of coaching Jones and Chubb two separate ways to maximize each player's productivity. Zalmer Chubb still lives on Holly Ave in South Pittsburg, and I placed a call to him on Monday to see if he'd be willing to come on the SportsCage to discuss Chris Jones!
8 - BLACKING OUT ON BLACKOUTS: I casually mentioned on Twitter that the CFL could revisit blacking out televised games due to empty seats in CFL stadiums in Week 20. That was met with a tidal wave of bitterness from the Rider Nation but let me be clear: I'm not advocating blackouts. It was just a flippant comment. The Roughriders led the CFL in attendance in 2017 so there's no problem here.
9 - MOVIN' ON UP: Having said that, Saturday's conditions made for an unpleasant evening at Mosaic Stadium. We wussed out and left the windows closed in the broadcast booth in order to block out the teeth of the 30 km/h wind. The argument to move the CFL season up to a June 1 start has reared its head again but it's highly unlikely it'll happen on Commissioner Randy Ambrosie's watch. The cons are: bad summer TV ratings, low ticket sales, competition with the Stanley Cup Playoffs and bungling up the Labour Day "turn" versus the only pro: it's darn cold this time of year. Unfortunately there just doesn't seem to be an appetite at the league level to move the season up.
10 - WESTERN SEMIFINAL: The Eskimos are the hottest team in the CFL, carrying a 5-game winning streak into the playoffs. If Winnipeg starts QB Matt Nichols, he'll be nowhere near 100% due to a nagging calf injury. Coupled with injuries at a myriad of other key positions, it looks like the Bomber Grey Cup drought will hit 27 years. Meanwhile the Calgary Stampeders haven't carried a 3-game losing streak into the playoffs since 1957. Advantage Edmonton.