By: RodPedersen.com Staff
The calendar just flipped to June and it’s crazy to think that there are already five pre-season games in the books. If the first week of pre-season action is any indication, this will be a crazy season that will probably be the tightest we’ve seen in years.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders had the luxury of a rare pre-season bye week and spent it by being great provincial ambassadors. Saturday was their annual Green and White day at SMF Field in Saskatoon and Sunday was a fantastic day in Humboldt.
Now it’s back to business and the final pre-season game Friday night as the Riders host the Calgary Stampeders (7:30 pm, 620 CKRM Rider Network, No TV).
Both teams have a pre-season game in the books and both have some things to work through. Calgary’s biggest one revolves around anyone behind Bo Levi Mitchell throwing the football. It will be interesting to see how long Mitchell will play before any one of the combination of the four other pivots they have in camp.
For the Green and White, here are a few things to watch (or listen to on the mighty Roughrider Football Radio Network):
- With the 1-2 combination of Collaros and Brandon Bridge, the battle for the number three spot will be fun. Both David Watford and B.J. Daniels played alright in Edmonton a week ago, which was enough to make Marquise Williams expendable. This pre-season has been the first time both have taken live reps at quarterback since their college days (Daniels at South Florida and Watford at Hampton/Virginia) so it’s a race to see who adapts first.
- The offensive line was solid against Edmonton, but the Eskimos didn’t blitz very much or mix things up with stunts and twists. Friday will be a little different, the starting five will see a combination of everything from the Stampeder defensive front.
- We finally get a great look at the newly acquired Tre Mason, and Jerome Messam in pre-season action. This will more than likely be the running back rotation beginning week one.
- Tackle better. This was one of the more glaring deficiencies of the Rider defence against Edmonton last Sunday. It’s not a knock against the Riders, it’s a matter all defences have to work through during the pre-season. With the lack of full contact sessions in training camp, it always takes a little time to knock the rust off.
- What kind of pressure can the front four get? The addition of Zack Evans and Charleston Hughes along with Willie Jefferson gives the Riders the luxury of sending just four and not having to blitz on every play.
- Where the Canadians will play? The rotation of Evans, Eddie Steele and Makana Henry at defensive tackle is set but watch at linebacker between Cameron Judge and Sam Hurl to see how many reps they get and at what position. Also keep a keen eye on the defensive backfield where Mike Edem and Marc-Olivier Brouillette will battle it out.
Finally, and we know it’s tough to do, but try to stick around for the third and fourth quarters. This is where things get incredibly interesting. Football careers are extended or ended on those precious few snaps in the waning moments of a pre-season game. In addition to that, see who stands out on special teams, that is also a make-or-break proposition for the fringe players.
Other Pre-season Notes:
- Johnny Manziel looked like he belonged in the CFL with his first handful of snaps for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Ti-Cats kept the offence very simple and familiar with his college offence. Most of the plays were of the play-action variety with the option to run or pass out of it (hybrid RPO). Now let’s see if he can progress, and if he can, it should be great for the CFL.
- When Trevor Harris went down with an apparent knee injury on Thursday night, it looked awful. He was rolling around like it was bad, but after later examination, it’s deemed that he should be able to play in Week 1.
- Finally, because of a myriad of reasons (availability of talent, availability of HD truck and crew, or a desire to not want to go head-to-head with NHL/NBA playoffs) CFL fans are deprived of seeing all of the pre-season games on TSN
TSN is very particular with their CFL broadcast rights (how many highlights have you seen on social media?), they have paid a lot of money to be the official CFL broadcaster and to release these games to another network would be insane.
So, the next step would be to allow the member clubs to stream the game. Seems simple, right!? Not so much.
When TSN/CFL does release the pre-season games to be streamed, the host team will incur all the expenses (talent fees, equipment, outside production crew, graphics).
There are a couple of reasons why teams are leery of producing a streaming broadcast:
The first is time. To do a bare bones broadcast is simple, but to do a good broadcast -- well that is incredibly hard.
It’s easy to stream the in-house feed (to which the quality varies from stadium to stadium) with the radio broadcast. This is rough because the in-house is geared towards the stadium experience and shows too many promos and fan shots, not enough game action for broadcast and the radio play-by-play never matches what is on the screen.
Teams also don’t have the internal manpower to do even this simple broadcast.
Which gets us to the second reason, expenses. To do a solid broadcast you need: a production crew, cameras, equipment and announcers. This is a heavy bill that almost all teams are not willing to swallow. If a team is willing to pursue this option, they would want to recoup their money.
That leads to the third reason, sponsors. If a team wants sponsors to spend money on the game, they need to receive permission from CFL/TSN to do so on a sponsor by sponsor basis.
An example would be a Ford dealership buying ads on the pre-season streaming of the game but when GMC and Nissan are CFL on TSN sponsors this would be denied.
Thus reducing the potential sponsor pool exponentially.
With this myriad of roadblocks, you can’t blame a team for not pursuing a streaming broadcast.
So, if a team does stream a game for their fans, please support it in full. If the numbers are large enough, this could bring some sort of change.