Redblacks Lose Battle of the 417

By: Santino Filoso

Ottawa Redblacks v Montreal Alouettes

On Friday night the Redblacks headed to Montreal to avoid becoming the worst team in the CFL in a battle of two 1-7 clubs. Unfortunately, despite it once again being a one score game in the 4th quarter, the Redblacks comedy of errors caught up to them and cost them a win, dropping their record to a dismal 1-8.

Pre-Game:

– In a surprising move, the Redblacks come out for warm ups sporting their black home jerseys

– The CFL’s twitter feed continues it’s trend of digging up obscure Ottawa facts

– Redblacks lose the coin toss, writers would call this foreshadowing

– The Al’s stadium looks shockingly empty at kick off

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks come out of the gate sharp, marching the ball down field with catches by Henry² (Marcus Henry #16), Dobson Collins (#80), and Marter (Matt Carter, #85) but are forced to settle for a FG after they can’t overcome three penalties and a Burris sack

– Brett “Money” Maher’s (#3) 29 yard FG triples the amount of points the Redblacks scored all of last week

– The Al’s first possession ends in a punt after a few stuffed runs and heavy pocket pressure causes Jonathan “Sunshine” Crompton’s passes to fall incomplete

– Henry Burris (#1) and company go two and out courtesy a Patrick Lavoie (#81) drop

– The defence plays tough but Jerrell Gavins (#24) is flagged for illegal contact on 2nd down, giving the Als a second chance

– Jermaine Robinson (#32) grabs a piece of face mask when trying to make a tackle on 2nd down and gives the Als a free 15 yards

– Facing 3rd and 1 on the Redblacks 1 yard line, the defence stands tall and stuffs the Als, but Bradon Lang’s (#91) pinky is a fingernail over the line and he’s flagged for being offside, giving the Als a fresh set of downs

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All for naught

– After being stuffed on another run play, Al’s back up QB Tanner Marsh “Madness” caps off the 11 play, 75 yard drive with a 1 yard TD pass to SJ Green

Not in the bread basket but it still counts
Not in the bread basket but it still counts

– Redblacks go two and out again after Chevon Walker (#29) picks up 3 yards on the ground and Henry² catches a 5 yard screen pass

– A face masking flag on the ensuing punt sets the Als up near mid-field

2nd Quarter:

– Sean Whyte booms a 52 yard punt through the end zone to extend the Alouette lead by 1

– TSN cuts to an awesome pre-game speech delivered by last minute healthy scratch Moton Hopkins (#95)

– The offensive woes and penalty flags continue as the Redblacks go two and out and are flagged for procedure on the punt

– Sunshine gets into rhyme as the Redblacks defence struggles with the roll outs, play fakes, and misdirection thrown at them

– Deep in the red zone, Travis “Sticky Fingers” Brown (#43) steps in front of Brandon Whitaker to pick off Crompton and ends the Al’s scoring threat

Climbing the ladder
Climbing the ladder

– A direct snap to Walker goes nowhere fast and despite an 11 yard catch from Collins, an illegal block and a 17 yard sack force another punt

– Duron “My Dad’s A Hall of Famer” Carter makes a 19 yard catch and Brown gets flagged for roughing the passer

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– Continuing to show a nose for the ball, Antoine Pruneau (#6) forces a goal line fumble which Gavins recovers

– Taking two steps forward and one back, a Collins catch is sandwiched by a pair of offsides

– Wallace Miles (#84) and Khalil Paden (#13) haul in passes to move the Redblacks within range for an end of half end zone heave but Chip Cox knocks the pass down

– 8-3 for Habs after 30 minutes

Half-time:

– When asked what he said to the guys in the locker room, Burris answered: “An artist never takes an eraser to his work, so we need to stop erasing our positive plays on offence”

3rd Quarter:

– A Duron Carter highlight reel over the shoulder catch and short Sunshine scramble led to another rouge

– Offensive Co-Ordinator Mike Gibson continues to call ineffective runs out of shotgun

– Teams trade two and outs

– Bradon London blows by new comer Abdul Kanneh (#14) for a 51 yard gain but Reggie “Showtime” Jones (#20) saves a TD with the tackle

– Pruneau uses his body as a speed bump, disrupting Green’s timing just enough to ensure the incompletion in the end zone

– Whyte makes it 12-3 with a 22 yard FG

– Under heavy pressure, Burris gets stripped of the ball and fumbles, which is recovered by the Als

Yes, this ended badly
Yes, this ended badly

– Whyte turns the turnover into another rouge, his 3rd single of the night

– With the Als defensive line on him almost at the same time that he receives the ball, Burris is forced to chuck and duck, leading to the Redblacks’ 6th straight two and out

4th Quarter:

– Miles giveth with a 1st down catch and taketh with a 2nd down drop, Redblacks forced to punt

– Whyte gets hit while punting but since the ref is tired of throwing his flag he lets it slide

– After 3.5 quarters OC Mike Gibson finally clues in that his seven step drops aren’t working and the Redblacks switch their attack to quick short passes. This proves to be highly effective as Burris leads the offence on an 80 yard drive , featuring catches by Collins, Paden and is capped off with a 27 yard TD catch and run by Miles, Ottawa’s first TD in 193 min and 28 seconds and first since week 7

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42 possessions ago (the last offensive TD), I was a young woman!

 

– Wasting no time, the Als respond when Robinson falls, leaving Duron Carter all alone to make a 48 yard catch. Adding insult to injury, Brown is called for a very suspect roughing the passer penalty, tacking on an extra 15 yards

– Nobody on defence wants to make a tackle as James Rogers rumbles 17 yards through weak arm tackles on a WR sweep to the house, giving the Als a 10 point lead 3 plays and 1 minute after the Redblacks pulled within 3

– An important Henry² catch (that would’ve been good for a first down) is nullified by a holding call, so instead of a fresh set of downs the Redblacks have to punt

– The defence continues to do it’s part holding the Als to another two and out

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– Facing a 2nd and 2 on the Als’ 30 yard line with 1:30 left, Burris comes up short on a QB sneak while his helmet is ripped off his face. Inexplicably there’s no flag, probably because the refs believe Burris wears a magic helmet that has the power to violently rip itself off of his head

– Foregoing a short FG that would pull the Redblacks within one score and give them a shot at an onside recovery, Head Coach Rick Campbell decides to go for it on 3rd and 1, but the Redblacks fail to convert, turning the ball over on downs

– Final Score: 20-10 for not the Redblacks

Key Stats:

Burris went 21 of 34 for 245 yards with 1 TD

Walker had 7 carries for 31 yards

Miles hauled in 7 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD

Justin Capicciotti (#93) led the way on defence with 6 tackles

Maher punted 9 times for 423 yards

Closing Thoughts:

There’s no sugar coating the fact that this was a game that most Redblacks fans thought the team would win. After some strong showings against some tough Western opponents, tonight was the Redblacks’ chance to make a push for a playoff spot. Despite a promising early drive, Ottawa’s offensive woes from past weeks carried over into this game. Burris had a number of throws I’m sure he’d like back but his offensive line also didn’t do a whole lot to give him any time to really plant his feet. OC Mike Gibson called his worst game of the year, failing to involve Walker and take some pressure off the passing game, only calling 7 running plays all night long, talk about throwing your QB to the wolves. Furthermore, it took Gibson the better part of three and a half quarters to adjust and finally call some plays that gave his players a chance to make something happen. Considering that the offensive line was struggling and that Burris was under pressure all night long, it’s criminal that Gibson didn’t adapt and mix in a few more runs earlier. One issue that really needs to be addressed is how receivers react after catching the ball. All too often instead of simply putting their head down and plowing forward for the first down, they danced around and ended up losing yards.

Even lacking Keith Shologan (#74), Ottawa’s defence continued to play at a high level, keeping the Redblacks in the game for nearly 55 minutes. Linebackers Pruneau, Jasper Simmons (#31) and Brown flew around and made their presence felt. Gavins was the only real standout in terms of coverage but in general the corners seemed to play a bit too soft. New comer Abdul Kanneh showed his inexperience, often being caught out of position. Ultimately the defence caught a few bad breaks, with some highly questionable roughing the passer flags and Robinson slipping to leave Carter open on the long bomb which lead to the nail in the coffin TD. Despite allowing the Als to march down immediately after the offence pulled within three, it’s hard to fault the defence considering the fact that they were once again on the field for nearly 35 minutes. As long as the defence continues to play at this level the Redblacks will be in every game, especially if the offence can find a way to put up points on a consistent basis.

Specials teams were a bright spot, with good coverage and Maher averaging 47 yards a punt. Although Jamill Smith (#15) didn’t have a punt return longer than 15 yards he looked quicker and did his part in the field position battle. Looking back on this game the Redblacks will rue the number of penalties they took. After 30 minutes they had racked up 12 flags for 80 yards and by the end of the game the total was 16 penalties for 135 yards. The lack of discipline was a back breaker as the flags wiped out positive offence plays and directly lead to points against, keeping Alouette drives alive when they had no right to be. Some of the blame has to fall on the coaching staff as this has been an issue for Ottawa since the pre-season, but at the same time these guys are supposed to be professionals. They KNOW they can’t tackle players by their facemasks yet still grab them, and they KNOW they can’t line up offside yet still screw it up. Coaching is a part of the problem but at the same time the players need to own their bone-head mistakes.

Things don’t get any easier for the Redblacks as the BC Lions come to town next week, perhaps with Kevin Glenn at the helm. R-Nation is sure to pack TD Place again and give him the welcome he deserves, so hopefully the team had draw off the crowd’s energy and pick up their 2nd win of the season.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via CFL.ca and the Ottawa Sun

 

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#TBT: An Interview with Gord Weber

By: Santino Filoso

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Today we sit down with Ottawa native and former Rough Rider linebacker Gord Weber. Weber was drafted in the 7th round after an award winning CIS career (CIS First Team All Canadian twice) where he was a QQIFC All-Star and the QQIFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 with the Ottawa GeeGees. Gord played for the Rough Riders from 1990 until 1994.

RR: Growing up in Ottawa, did you get a chance to take in a lot of games at Lansdowne?

 GW: I used to deliver the Ottawa Citizen newspaper just to get free tickets.  Back then if you had a paper route you got into the end zone section for free. Being a 12 year old it was scary because after every field goal or extra point there used to be fights for the footballs that went over the fence.

How did it feel to be drafted by your hometown team, did you have any indication before the draft that Ottawa might take you?

It was an honour to be drafted by my hometown team, growing up my mother went to all my games and being drafted by Ottawa meant she could continue to watch every game. Not to mention the fact that I was able to keep my friends from high school and university that were from Ottawa.

During your time in Ottawa the team changed the logo on the helmets from the traditional white R to the double flaming Rs. Which did you prefer?

The original R is the one and only Rough Riders logo in my opinion.  End of story and no doubt about it

You managed to get to the playoffs every season you played, how is playoff football different from the regular season?

In a small league of 8 teams you are never counted out.  Much like this year’s Redblacks team you are never out till the season is over.  When playoffs come it’s a new season and you just need to be on a hot streak (not that we ever had one in the playoffs) and from there you never know what can happen. Over the years there have been many sub 500 teams went on to win the Grey Cup.

Who was your funniest teammate?

With a team of 50 players there were always characters… but I have to say that Jeff Brazwell was up there, some of the stuff that came out of his mouth was gold, he knew how to keep the team laughing and loose.

What was the hardest hit you ever laid on someone? 

Man there was a lot that a have given, and I took a few as well.  I loved to blow people up on special teams, nothing like running down the field 40 yards at full speed and launching yourself into a wall of people.  I remember Carl Coultier when he was playing for BC and it was his first game as a long snapper and this was when you were able to take runs at the long snapper.  So all game I kept chirping him saying “Don’t f*ck up or you’ll get cut!”.  He kept his head down too long and I must’ve ear holed him a few times.  In pop warner football I put a few QB’s out.  Big hits come when you’re not looking, so when you blind side someone it’s always fun.

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Did you have a favorite (or least favorite) stadium to play in?

Well you have to always love playing in your hometown.  But I will tell you I am glad I never played for Hamilton, that was the worst stadium ever.  They repainted the logo every year so it was like a ice rink and the walls were only 10 yards away from sidelines of the field.  It was the dirtiest field too, I don’t think they cleaned once since they put the turf in, so when you got turf burn by the time you got to the sidelines, your burn was already starting to ooze pus.

Were you a superstitious player, as in did you have any specific pre-game rituals?

Before games I always watched a VCR tape of the NFL’s hardest hits, and when I got dressed I always did everything right to left; right sock, then left sock, right shoe then left shoe…etc.

Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?

Well, I’m proud that I was able to play a game I loved and make a little money, even though I tore my ACL twice and had to walk away from the game, it’s an achievement that many cannot say they accomplished.  Also, I’m proud of the work I was able to do in the Ottawa community speaking with kids and adults about being positive in life and being the best you can be.

Have you been to any Redblacks games this season?

Yes actually, I’m a photographer and shoot for the CFL so I have been to them all. You can see my work at www.gordweber.com.  Be warned what you see at my website cannot be unseen, haha

North or South Side?

 Always South

What are you doing for work nowadays?

I’m a photographer in the Ottawa area and specialize in Fitness, Glamour and Commercial Photography.  I love what I do, so I can’t really say that I work.  This year alone, I’ve travelled to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Revelstoke (BC) and through Ontario to photograph beautiful people.  If you’re doing something you love and it’s fun then you can’t call it work.

 Why did you choose to get into photography?

 I didn’t choose it, it kind of chose me. I picked up a camera 10 years ago and just couldn’t put it down.  I begged people to allow me to photograph them and attended sports games and other events just to shoot.  All of a sudden people started asking me to do their pictures, weddings, events, etc.  At first I did it for fun, but then I started getting too many requests, so I started charging a fee.  It was a great way to make some extra cash while I was working in the wine business.  Eventually I was able to make more and took the leap to making it my career.

How does your playing experience make you a better sports photographer?

Well as I say to my students when I teach photography workshops, if you understand your subject you’re able to put yourself in the best location to get the shot.  My CFL career has been asset because I understand the game and the behaviour of the athletes which in turn makes me have a higher quality shot ratio than many.

CFL Alouettes-

Do you still keep in touch with any of your old teammates? 

Because Ottawa was my hometown, I always had my friends that I grew up with.  Also playing on a team that went through players like water it was tough to have a really close bond.  Over the 5 years I was part of the Rough Riders, only 5 others played with me throughout the entire time.  The turnover on the team was crazy, so I didn’t stay in touch with too many guys. That being said there’s a few that are still in the Ottawa area that I still see and talk to once in awhile.

Thanks for your time Gord!

@RedBlackGade

REDPLAIDS vs Stamps; Different Jersey, Same Result

By: Santino Filoso

1st

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon and wearing two thirds of their new CFL Signature Look uniforms, the Redblacks welcomed the Calgary Stampeders to TD Place for their only matinée game of the season. Despite battling hard all game the Redblacks ultimately lost, dropping their record to 1-7 on the year.

Pre-Game:

– Continuing to prove that Ottawa is indeed a football city, the Redblacks record their 4th straight sell-out

– The whispers and rumours circulating all week are proven true when the Redblacks come out for warm up wearing their normal black helmets instead of the plaid ones from their plaid Signature Look

– Conspiracy theorists have a field day trying to explain the lack of plaid helmets

But bottom line

1st Quarter:

– The Redblacks strong defensive play carries over from last week as Antoine Prunueau (#6) tips Bo Levi Mitchell’s pass and Jonathon Williams (#75) does his best Odell Williams impression, picking it off and rumbling 35 yards to the house, sending #RNation into a frenzy; 7-0 for the home team

– On Calgary’s next possession Brandon Lang (#91) sacks Mitchell

– After picking up a 1st down and being flagged for holding, Henry Burris’ (#1) pass sails over Wallce Mile’s (#84) head when he stops running for a deep ball

– Prunueau continues to fly around, tripping up Cornish as he tries to bounce a run wide

– Despite being backed up by penalties Mitchell uses his legs to move the sticks

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– Deciding that injuring starting safety Eddie Elder (#5) with a vicious blindside block isn’t enough, Nik “Buffet” Lewis decides to dance and celebrate over the prone Redblack #pureclass

– Facing 3rd and 1 on Ottawa’s 7 yard line, Stamps HC John Hufnagel sends out the short yardage package and back up QB Drew Tate scrambles to the outside, strolling into the end zone and capping off an 11 play 52 yard drive to even the score

– A failed fake reverse + a Chevon Walker (#29) unobjectionable conduct penalty = the Redblacks starting on their own 7 and quickly going two and out

– With the help of Jerrell Gavins (#24) , safety Eric Fraser (#7) breaks up a deep pass, seemingly for the first time this season

2nd Quarter:

– Prunueau breaks up a pass on 2nd and long

– Stamps kicker Rene Paredes breaks his streak of 12 straight field goals, missing a 31 yarder but still tacking on a rouge

– Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) catches Burris by surprise, snapping the ball before he’s ready

– Brett Maher’s (#3) punt combined with a holding penalty pins the Stamps at their 9 yard line

– Jermain Robinson (#32) nearly picks off Mitchell, but instead gets flagged for illegal contact

– Jasper Simmons (#31) tackles Cornish short of the first down, forcing the Stamps to punt

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– Showing his wheels, Burris scrambles for a 1st down

– Full of informative incorrect tidbits, TSN announcer Duane Ford mentions that the Redblacks haven’t scored a TD in 44 straight offensive possessions and that Kerry Jospeh was the last QB to throw a TD in Ottawa (which is wrong since Thomas DeMarco (#17) did it against the Wheaties earlier this year)

– A promising drive that featured Khalil Paden’s (13) first catch as a Redblack a few strong runs from Walker ends in a punt when Burris is sacked for a 17 yard loss, pushing the Redblacks out of FG range

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Trying to hold back the rush? Or his critics?

– The Stampeders get flagged when they illegally block a Redblack into the  player into a line judge

– Gavins gets flagged for illegal contact, bringing the Redblacks total to 6 flags for 52 yards so far

– Pocket collapsing, Burris fumbles but the Redblacks retain possession when J’Michael Dean (#64) hops on it like an offer of seconds of home cooking

– With 30 minutes of play in the books, the football jerseys lead the hockey jerseys 8-7

Half-time:

– The TSN panel expresses surprise that Ottawa hasn’t been blown out yet

3rd Quarter:

– The Redblacks receive the ball to start the half and move the chains a few times thanks to Walker’s tough running, another Paden catch and a QB draw

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– Redblacks jar the ball loose on the ensuing punt but the Stamps maintain possession

– Crowd noise is a factor as the Stamps get flagged for false start, pushing them back to their 5

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R-Nation is a force to be reckoned with

– Picking up where he left off last week, Williams nails Mitchell up high long after the ball is out and gifts the Stampeders 15 yards

– Joe West burns by Fraser for a 58 yard catch

– The Stamps drive 91 yards to Ottawa’s 9 yard line but on 3rd and inches Keith “I Like Hittin’ People” Shologan (#74) forces and recovers a fumble

– Trying to take advantage of another defensive gift, Miles and Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) make catches of 22 and 4 yards respectively before Burris gets clobbered as he throws and tosses the ball right at Stamps DB Jamar Walls

– Stampes do what the Redblacks’ don’t and turn the turnover into points with a 32 yard FG

4th Quarter:

– Despite catches by FB John Delahunt (#49) and Miles, the Redblacks stick to their trend of going two and out

– The defense doesn’t even bend as they force the Stamps to go two and out

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Swarming and relentless

– Burris connects with Dobson Collins (#80) for a 15 yard gain and passes Danny “Big Mac” McManus for 3rd place on the all time CFL passing list

– Joe West makes Ottawa fans cross their fingers that Elder’s injury isn’t serious as he toys with Fraser and catches a 51 yard bomb

– The Stamps 41 yard FG is wide right and Jamill Smith (#15) denies the rouge by returning the missed kick to his own 4 yard line

– Dubious play calling leads to another Maher punt and the “Ho-bart” chants rain down

– Overcoming a 3rd down, the Stamps eventually punch the ball into the end zone when Sederrik Cunningham runs 20 yards untouched

– With the score at 18-7 and thinking they’re at a Sens game wayyyyy out in Kanata, some uneducated members of R-Nation begin to leave the stadium

– The Redblacks respond to the Stampeders score with an incompletion and a Burris sack to go two and out

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– Proving that lightening can strike twice, Cunningham fields Maher’s short punt and weaves 66 yards to the end zone, *note* Eric Fraser falling down without being touched doesn’t help the coverage any

– DeMarco enters the game and is serenaded with cheers until he also goes 2 and out

– Exhausted after being on the field for most of the game, the defense finally snaps allowing another TD when Hugh Charles gallops 15 yards untouched

– The Redblacks’ receivers prove that they have zero chemistry with either of their two QBs as DeMarco’s passes fall to the ground with absolutely nobody around

– With just over a minute left in the game, Junior Turner comes in low on DeMarco and delivers a shot to his knee, in all likelihood tearing an ACL/MCL, ruining his season and quelling a QB controversy in the Nation’s Capital

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– 3rd stringer Danny O’Brien has a first CFL play to remember as he gets sacked for a 16 yard loss

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Welcome to the pros kid!

Deceiving final score: 32-7 for the best team in the league

Key Stats:

Burris went 12 of 23 for 113 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Walker had 11 carries for 43 yards

Collins made 5 catches for 44 yards

Simmons had 7 tackles

Maher punted 11 times for 479 yards, averaging 43.5 yard per kick

Closing Thoughts:

Another week ends with another frustrating loss. Ottawa fans packed TD Place and brought the noise all game long, but while R-Nation showed up our offence clearly didn’t. Burris had a game to forget, overthrowing his receivers on the rare occasions that he a) had time to plant his feet, and b) had an open man to throw to. Chevon Walker had his moments running the ball but Ottawa’s play calling wasn’t consistent in feeding him the ball. Watching the Redblacks’ inept offensive execution led to an unruly home crowd that repeatedly booed the offence off the field and invoked the struggles of Rough Rider days of yore with “Ho-bart” chants. This was also the second week in a row that the defence generated turnovers that the offence failed to turn into points.

While the offence continues to struggle, the defence was once again stellar and tried to pick up the slack. Guys like Simmons, Pruneau, Williams and Shologan carried the day for as long as possible, even going so far as to score, but it’s unrealistic to expect the defence to hold up being on the field for as long as they were. When you hold a QB like Mitchell to 0 TDs, you should win the game. Losing Eddie Elder to injury hurt, as it pushed Eric Fraser into the game and where was repeatedly victimized on deep throws. In terms of special teams, minus the one short punt that was returned for a touchdown, Maher was solid punting and the kick coverage that was putrid at the start of the season has really tightened up.

This was once again a game that the Redblacks hung around in until late in the 4th quarter, when a tired defence collapsed and allowed the Stamps to put up 21 points in 4 minutes and 5 seconds. The final tally doesn’t accurately reflect how close the score was for most of the game. On that note, it’s frustrating as a fan and must be disheartening for the players to see fans stream out of the stadium when there’s more than 8 minutes left in the game. I know a lot of Redblacks’ fans also go to Sens games and have been traumatized by the shitty traffic out at the Canadian Tire Centre, but there’s simply no excuse to leave a CFL game at Lansdowne Park early. First off it’s the CFL, and as it’s been proven time and time again no lead is safe. Secondly, getting in and out of Lansdowne is much faster and smoother than leaving the CTC, simply because it’s in the heart of the city. If you paid for a ticket stay until the end of the damn game! – end rant

@RedBlackGade

*All images via CFL.ca, the Ottawa Sun and the Ottawaredblacks.com

#RThoughts on the Redblacks new 3rd jersey

On Monday, August 18th, the Ottawa Redblacks revealed their inaugural third jersey. After a decent amount of speculation and a few fun teasers, here’s what we got:

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Social media was abuzz with reaction and opinion, ranging from love to hate and most points in between. Frankly, reaction was far closer to 50/50 than expected.

With that in mind, here’s Defend the R’s chat/review of the Redblacks ‘Signature Look’ (most photos from ottawaredblacks.com):

HELMET

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@OTTRoughRiders: I love the plaid helmet. I probably would have kept the R logo on it, however. And probably the black version.

@RedblackGade: Yep exactly, it’s strange to see an Ottawa helmet without the iconic R on it. But otherwise it’s incredible.

JERSEY – SHOULDERS

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@OTTRoughRiders: Love the plaid on the shoulders. Perfect amount of plaid for the uniform, if they had ended it there.

@RedblackGade: Agreed once again with the plaid on the shoulders, they got that part just right.

JERSEY – FRONT

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@RedblackGade: I like having the main logo on the front – hockey-style – but it’s looks too cartoonish being white, they should’ve outlined it to make it pop.

@OTTRoughRiders: I pretty much like everything about the jersey but the logo on the front. Standard numbering & they would be awesome. Or maybe if they used the black logo instead of that white version?

@RedblackGade: I like using the logo on the front of the jersey, but it’s really shitty that it’s white. Don’t get that part.

@OTTRoughRiders: I wouldn’t have had the plaid running down the side of the jersey. Shoulders are enough.

(Here’s how it would look in black, by the way:

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Thanks to @BrodieBrady for putting this together.)

PANTS

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@RedblackGade: I love the ‘Ottawa’ stripe going down the side of the leg too, that’s a really nice touch.

@OTTRoughRiders: Like the black pants – glad it isn’t a fully red set, like the home & away. But don’t think they needed plaid down the side. Again, bit too much.

@OTTRoughRiders: I do like OTTAWA on the pants as well. Just wouldn’t have had the plaid background. Also like the red socks.

@RedblackGade: I like the plaid background there.

OTHER THOUGHTS

@RedblackGade: The gloves are fantastic, really love those.

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@OTTRoughRiders: Gloves are really cool, but what is that logo? They’ve never used it anywhere. I’m not a fan, at this point. May warm up to it.

@RedblackGade: I also find that the actual thing itself looks much better than the “enhanced” and edited images. The red looks better in video/live.

@OTTRoughRiders: For sure. I want to see it in person. Things look different without all the touch ups/filters.

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@OTTRoughRiders: Would have been cool if they used #RNation on the back of the helmet, like the Argos did with #ArgosLive

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There you have our thoughts from Monday. No doubt the uniform is fun and interesting, especially the plaid helmet. A number of American news outlets picked up the news, including Bleacher Report and ESPN’s Keith Olbermann. No such thing as bad press, right?

What are your thoughts on the Redblacks Signature Look? What would you do to improve them?

While you think about it, here’s what @Senturion would do:

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Huge improvement.

UPDATE: Here’s a concept I came up with (please excuse the less-than-stellar Photoshop work):

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If we have to have a logo on the front, I think this works quite a bit better. Appreciate any feedback.

Thanks for reading and Go Redblacks!

@OTTRoughRiders

Redblacks Drop Win

By: Santino Filoso

reilly

Friday was a cold, rainy night, but that didn’t stop the Redblacks from putting on a show for yet another sold out crowd at TD Place. The final result wasn’t what R-Nation wanted as the visiting Esks eked out a win with a last minute field goal, but fans were treated to an entertaining effort led by the defense.

Pre-Game:

– R-Nation shows they aren’t fickle as they pack into TD Place despite October rain and temperatures

– Turns out the second E on the Eskimo’s helmets stands for Embarrassments, as Edmonton chooses not to come out of their locker room for the Canadian anthem. Head coach Chris Jones justified his team’s absence by claiming that “We already know all the words”

– Redblacks win the coin toss for the second game in a row

1st Quarter:

– Ottawa receives the ball and proceeds to march down the field as Henry Burris (#1) slings the rock around. The Redblacks settle for a 51 yard FG attempt following drops by Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) and Carlton Mitchell (#88)

– Brett Maher’s (#3) kick is wide right but still nets the Redblacks a single, 1-0 for the team who didn’t miss the anthem

– Reggie “Showtime” Jones (#20) makes a hell of a play, quickly setting the tone for the night

 

It's SHOWTIME!
It’s SHOWTIME!

– Jasper Simmons (#31) snuffs out  a screen, flying around and dishing out pain

– Eskimo’s QB Mike Reilly decides to throw into zone coverage which doesn’ t end well for the him as Brandyn Thompson (#25) picks him off and returns it to the Esk’s 16 yard line

– Burris and moves the offence to the 10 before throwing an incomplete pass intended for Henry², head coach Rick Campbell takes advantage of the new rule that let’s coaches challenge for PI (pass inference) but the ruling on the field is confirmed

– Wanting to fit in with the other receivers, a wide open Onrea Jones (#89) drops a surefire touchdown on the goal line

– Maher nails a 17 yard FG

2nd Quarter:

– Reilly is flushed out of the pocket by Jonathon Williams (#75) and crushed on by Brandon Lang (#91) on 2nd and 10

Reilly gets tag teamed
Reilly gets tag teamed

– Burris throws a 55 yard hitch and go to Wallace Miles (#84), Esks challenge if it was really a catch claiming Miles fumbled but the ruling on the field stands

– Maher’s 20 yard FG is good

– Connor “Conan” Williams (#99) gets a coverage sack

conan

– Grant Shaw gets the Esks on the board with a 39 yard FG

– Marter (Matt Carter #85) makes a beautiful over the should diving catch for a 35 yard gain and follows it up with a drop

– Under heavy pressure

– Maher punts 60 yards for a rouge

– Simmons and Antoine Pruneau (#6) make all the tackles as the Esks go two and out

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– Carlton Mitchell weaves 15 yard through the Esks secondary for a 1st down

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– Jones gets blown up going over the middle but manages to hang onto the ball

– Feeding off a rowdy home crowd, the Redblacks force another two and out

– Jason Pottinger (#46) delivers a thumping hit on punt coverage

– Jerell Gavins (#24) makes a great play, blanketing his man in deep coverage

– Shaw shanks a 50 yard FG to end the half

– Redblacks lead the Edmonton Embarrassments 8-4 after 30

Half time:

– Former Bomber Milt Stegall spends the intermission explaining how to optimize ball catching

3rd Quarter:

– Esks receive the ball to start the half and a swarming Redblacks’ defense would’ve forced another two and out, but Williams nails Reilly long after the ball comes out, keeping the drive alive

– Pruneau continues to rack up tackles, sacking Reilly for a 5 yard loss

– Williams decides that one roughing the passer flag isn’t enough, so he comes in low, hitting Reilly’s knees and gifting the Eskimos with another 15 yards

– History is made when Keith “I like hitting people” Shologan (#74) recovers Reilly’s fumble on the 2 yard line in the first goal line stand in Redblacks’ history

– Backed up and under heavy pressure in his end zone, Burris gets off the hook when roughing QB call takes away an Esks’ pick 6

– Maher makes a touchdown saving tackle as the Redblacks’ sloppy punt coverage rears it’s ugly head

– Rod Black somehow mistakes Big Joe for Big John

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*Not our mascot

– Shaw doesn’t shank a 28 yard FG, cutting the Redblacks’ lead to one

– Marter nearly causes an interception when he lets a pass go through his hands

– Travis Brown (#43) causes a fumble on final play of the quarter which is recovered by Williams

– Chris Jones gets in the official’s ear after his team takes 6 penalties in the quarter

4th Quarter:

– Trailing by 1 and on Ottawa’s 12 yard line, the Esks forgo an easy field goal on 3rd and 1 and get STUFFED when Pat White tries to take the ball wide but gets tripped up by Pruneau

 

You'd be scared too if you had Capital Punishment coming at you too!
You’d be scared too if you had Capital Punishment coming at you!

– Eskimo penalties keep the Redblacks drive alive and march them into field goal range with less than four minutes remaining

– Marter makes a nice 36 yard catch but forgets that possession is nine-tenths of the law and allows the ball to be stripped from his hands, R-Nation collectively groans

– With 3:22 left in the game and starting from the shadow of his own goal posts (on the 10), Reilly uses his legs and arms to convert a couple of 2nd downs, and despite trailing for 59 min and 40 seconds, the Esks march into field goal range and Shaw makes a 27 yard kick to give the Edmonton Embarrassments a 10-8 lead

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– Burris completes a short pass before scrambling around and throwing two incompletions to end the game as Mary ignores the Redblacks’ hails

Final Score: Redblacks lose 10-8 in a heart breaker

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Alonzo Lawrence thanks Marter for his fumble

Key Stats:

– Walker gained 58 yards on 14 carries

– Marter made 5 catches for 97 and had a back breaking fumble

– Pruneau had 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, not a bad night’s work in his 2nd start

Closing Thoughts:

What a tough loss. On a night when the defense played their hearts out, the Redblacks’ offense let them down, failing once again to score a touchdown. Burris was solid against the league’s toughest defense and a potentially big early lead was wiped out by drop after drop. Marter (Matt Carter) was well on his way to having his best game as Redblack, but unfortunately the only thing fans will remember is his fumble and not the other catches he made.

After giving up 1,347 yards and 109 points over the last three-games the Redblacks defense finally tightened up. Feeing off an enthusiastic home crowd, it generated four turnovers and three sacks and kept Reilly under heavy pressure all night long. Antoine Pruneau had a breakout game, along with Reggie “Showtime” Jones. Despite manhandling the Eskimos, the defense ultimately came up short right when they needed a stop the most.

Special teams were once again an issue as though Maher had a strong night punting averaging 46 yards a pop, he missed a field goal that would come back to haunt the team. The kick coverage was better that it has been the past few games, but the Redblacks still gave up a few long returns.

Even with the loss, the Redblacks can take some positives from this game. The defense was stellar and if they continue play at the same level the team will be in every game. With the Stampeders coming to town next Sunday afternoon, you can bet that the Redblacks will come out fired up and looking to finally make TD Place live up to it’s name.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via CFL.ca and the Ottawa Sun

Stampeders School Redblacks

By: Santino Filoso

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On the heels of last week’s embarrassing loss, the Redblacks rolled into Calgary for what was a semi sort of “homecoming” for a number of players and coaches, including Jon Gott (#63), J’Michael Deane (#64), Eric Fraser (#7), Justin Phillips (#44), Chris McCoy (#96), Henry Burris (#1), Don Yanowsky (STC), Mike Gibson (OC) and Rick Campbell (HC). Unfortunately for R-Nation and the former Stampeders, the Redblacks left McMahon Stadium without the win, dropping their record to 1-5.

Pre-Game:

– Confused people watching the CFL for the first time tune in to see the Redblacks decked out in their dazzling black and white road uniforms while Calgary sports their home red and black threads

– The CFL’s official twitter account does everything it can to ensure Ottawa fans are feeling optimistic

– The Redblacks finally win a coin loss, their first correct guess of the season

1st Quarter:

– D.J. Harper (#28) rumbles 21 yards after fielding the opening kickoff to the Redblacks 34 yard line

– Ottawa’s achilles’ heel rears it’s ugly head as poor special teams coverage and tackling results in Jock Sanders returning Brett Maher’s 58 yard punt 52 yards

– Facing 3rd and 2 on the Redblacks 8 yard line, Campbell gets Campbelled as Calgary dials up a fake FG and Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell breaks Antoine Pruneau’s (#6) arm tackle for the 8 yard rushing TD

– Following a short catch by Henry² (Marcus Henry #16), the Redblacks punt

– Burris runs a limousine past the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball and gets flagged for an illegal forward pass

– Jermaine Robinson (#32) makes the coaches wonder why they didn’t play him sooner as he flies around the field, throwing thundering hits on back to back plays

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Here comes the boom!

2nd Quarter:

– The pocket collapses before any receiver creates separation and Burris gets sacked

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“Why can’t we just be on the same page?!”

– Scrambling under heavy pressure, Mitchell’s throwaway is nearly picked off by Robinson

– Two plays later Mitchell makes no mistake as he hits Jeff Fuller for a 17 yard TD

– Redblacks respond with a promising 7 play drive featuring runs by Burris and Chevon Walker (#29) and catches by Carlton Mitchell (#88) and Henry² but the drive comes to an abrupt end when Burris is picked off

– Stamps make the most of Burris’ gift when Marquay McDaniel catches a 22 yard TD, 21-0 for the horsemen

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Keith Shologan (#74) blows up Mitchell on the play, making him pay the price for his TD throw

– Dobson Collins (#80) makes a short catch before Henry² doesn’t, forcing the Redblacks to punt

– Jasper Simmons (#31) intercepts Mitchell and returns it 29 yards before being tackled

– Walker punches the ball in from the 1, finally putting the Redblacks on the board

– Anthony Parker takes the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to Ottawa’s 51 yard line

– Mitchell strings together a few passes and puts a dagger in the Redblack’s chances of a comeback with a late 1st half TD to Jabari Arthur; 28-7 for the team wearing (but not named) red and black

3rd Quarter:

– Pruneau and Simmons continue to tackle everything in sight

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– Wallace Miles (#84) and Matt Carter (#85) make catches of 19 and 5 yards respectively

– Burris throws his 2nd interception of the game but makes the tackle so I guess he atones? #effort

– The defense limits the damage to a 12 yard Rene Paredes FG

– Burris shows off his arm strength and caps off an 8 play, 75 yard drive with a 32 yard TD pass to a streaking Miles

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Can can can you do the can can?

– Eddie Elder (#5) picks off Mitchell but the refs unexplainably flag Robinson for pass interference, negating the potentially momentum tipping interception

– It’s small consolation but Justin Capicciotti (#93) gets a sack

– Rob Maver punts 53 yards for a rouge

4th Quarter:

– Maher caps off a 4 play, 64 yard drive with a 32 yard FG

– The Stamps chew up nearly 5 min of clock and tack on a 40 yard FG

– Walker trips up Burris, giving Charleston Hughes the easiest sack of his career

– Thomas DeMarco’s (#17) 3rd down pass falls incomplete, turning the ball over on downs

– Stamps extend their lead by three with another field goal

– Carter gets behind the Stampeder defence and makes a 60 yard catch, getting tackled at Calgary’s 3 yard line

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– The Redblacks proceed to shoot themselves in the foot when Collins is flagged for asking for a flag, Gott is flagged for a false start and Scott MacDonell (#83) catches a TD pass but is flagged for being offside

– On 3rd down Burris overthrows Miles on a corner route

Final Score: 38-17 for the Calgary Hitmen

Key Stats:

Henry Burris went 20-of-29 for 281 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs

Chevon Walker had 8 carries for 22 yards and 1 TD

Wallace Miles had 5 catches for 102 yards and 1 TD

Jasper Simmons had 9 tackles and 1 INT

Closing Thoughts:

 The Redblacks were always going to be in tough against what is probably the best team in the CFL. Though they gave up more points than last week’s loss, I think the team has more positives to take away from this week’s film review. This loss isn’t a reflection on the Redblacks’ effort, as it’s evident from watching that the players are giving their all, but instead highlights a lack of execution by certain players at key moments. Just by reading his stat line you can assume Burris had a decent game, but it’s a bit misleading as he struggled in the first half, only picking up 58 yards. Promising drives were killed by timely drops and flags but Wallace Miles continued to build off his strong performance last week and seems to be creating chemistry with Burris. Aside from his 1 yard TD, Chevon Walker was a complete non factor, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. You’ve gotta wonder how much of that is on the offensive line, who also struggled with keeping Burris upright, forcing him to rush throws and scramble more often than you’d like to see a 39 year old QB run.

Defensively the Redblacks had some stand out performances; Jasper Simmons played like a man possessed, maybe being a new Dad has given him a bit of extra motivation. 1st round pick Antoine Pruneau rewarded the coach’s decision to start him with 8 tackles and was constantly around the ball. But the real revelation of the night was the play of Jermaine Robinson, who laid the lumber on a few guys and nearly picked off a couple of passes, it’s safe to say he’ll be starting next week.

It was another sloppy game for the special team’s coverage, as they gave up a 52 yard punt return along with 45 yard kickoff return. The Redblacks can talk about not being an expansion team all they want, but the fact of the matter is that good teams have good coverage, and this issue has plagued them since their 1st pre-season game. Penalties were another headache as once again the Redblacks gave up over 100 yards in flags, drawing 12 flags for 131 yards. Maher rebounded from last week’s nightmarish outing by going 1/1 on FGs and averaging nearly 49 yards a punt.

Though the Redblacks lost once again, they continue to remain the playoff hunt simply due to the fact that everyone else in the East is also struggling. If they can get a win next week at home against an Eskimo team that hasn’t yet experienced the ferocity of R-Nation in person, it would set them up nicely for the 2nd half of the season when nearly every game is against an Eastern team. Remember to be LOUD and PROUD at Lansdowne on Friday!

@RedBlackGade

Game #5; GREENWHITES > REDBLACKS (for one night only)

By: Santino Filoso

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First they took our name, then they took our watermelons, and on Saturday night they took the air out of our stadium. The GREENWHITES came to town for the second CFL game in TD Place history and quickly moved the game out of reach, dropping the Redblacks to second place in the East Divison with a 1-4 record.

Pre-Game:

– Who would have guessed it would take the Fake Riders six games to finally have the opportunity to play in front of a sold out, LOUD, rambunctious crowd

– Yours truly had a chance to meet and thank Darren Jospeh and Ken Evraire in person, two great Ottawa CFL alumni, for doing interviews with Defend the R earlier this year

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– Standing by the sidelines I met the head referee and joked that I’d be waiting for his hometown calls, his face set in stone he informed me that “This isn’t my hometown” (Sorry for jinxing us)

– During the coin toss a GREENWHITES captain questions the referee about the coin and is promptly reminded that “tails is tails”

1st Quarter:

– Redblacks receive the ball but quickly go two and out after a Chevon Walker (#29) run and an incomplete pass

Who knew watermelons could tackle so well?
Who knew watermelons could tackle so well?

– Durant carves up the Redblacks defense as he leads the men in green on a 7 play TD drive

– Flag

– After an open Jamill Smith (#15) drops a pass that hits him in the hands, Burris tries to show him what he was looking for by throwing a completion to a GREENWHITE defender who brings it back to the Redblacks’ 15 yard line

– Flag

– The defense limits the damage to a field goal

– Flag

– On the following possession Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) decides to play hot potato with Burris’ pass, gifting the Fake Riders with back to back interceptions, which quickly turns into a Will Ford TD

– Flag

– Wallace Miles (#84) does what the Oxford Dictionary of English defines as “seizing or taking hold of something” which is more commonly known as making a catch

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– Flag

– Brett “The Silent Assassin” Maher’s 42 yard punt is returned 63 yards to Ottawa’s 27 yard line, making it three possessions in a row that Saskatchewan starts inside the 30

– Flag

– Following Rob Bagg’s 26 yard catch, Ford breaks the plane and scores another TD, 24-0 for the Watermelons

?????????????????????????

– Flag

– Smith and Henry² fail to make catches before Walker puts the offence on his back and romps 48 yards

2nd Quarter:

– Watching all his fellow WRs drop passes and feeling left out, Dobson Collins (#80) decides to get in on the action

drops
Drops drops drops drops drops drops, EVERYBODY!

– Brett Maher (#3) tries and fails to kick a 24 yard field goal through the right upright

mahermiss

– Another promising GREENWHITES drive is snuffed out when Zack Evans (#92) sacks Durant

– Flag

– Walker busts another big run, this time for 20 yards

– Flag

– Maher’s 43 yard field goal attempt is short and quickly returned 112 yards for a TD, if you listen closely you can hear a HO-BART chant being murmured

– Flag

– Chris Milo blasts the kickoff through the end zone for a rouge, extending the Watermelons lead to 32-0

– Flag

– Desperately seeking to get something going, Head Coach Rick Campbell sends backup QB Thomas DeMarco (#17) in on 3rd and 3; DeMarco’s 73 yard punt is recovered in the end zone by Collins, confusing the zebras but eventually resulting in the Redblacks 1st TD at TD Place

dobsontd
The Redblacks’ highlight of the night

– Probably thinking that they’d never expect another onside punt in the same game, Campbell dials up the same play the next time the Redblacks need to punt, but this time the a player who may or may not have been wearing a watermelon for a helmet catches the ball

– Flag

– Teams trade two and outs before John Delahunt (#49) recovers a muffed punt

– With 5 seconds left in the half Henry² makes a 17 yard catch to put the Redblacks in FG range, but instead of just going down time expires as he tries to pick up YAC (yards after the catch)

– Redblacks trail 32-7 after 30 minutes of sloppy play

Half-time:

– OSEG shows R-Nation what business synergy looks like as Big Joe Mufferaw teams up with Sparky and Riley to out tug a gopher and his cousins

Teamwork at its finest
Teamwork at its finest

– Surprisingly the refs choose to flag nobody for 15 minutes, the longest stretch of the game without an infraction

3rd Quarter:

– Opening the 3rd like they started the game, the Redblacks quickly go two and out

– Flag

– Teams trade two and outs before GREENWHITES’ kicker Chris Milo eventually nails a 34 yard FG

Could've used more of this
Could’ve used more of this

– Flag

– Patrick Lavoie (#81) looks good making a 14 yard catch and running over defenders

– Flag

– Following a Burris sack, Maher punts 52 yards

– Flag

– Not bothered by the fact that his team is trailing 35-7 in front of a festive, sold out home crowd that showed up even if he didn’t, safety Eric Fraser (#7) has enough energy to break it down and busts out SICK dance moves during a TV timeout

– Flag

– Smith and  Henry² decide to add to their drop totals

4th Quarter:

– Having apparently used up all his good kicks in the home opener, Maher shanks a 45 yard FG attempt

– Flag

– A promising 8 play scoring drive comes to an abrupt end when an open Miles drops a 3rd down pass at the GREENWHITES’ 11 yard line

– Flag

– Durant doesn’t take his foot off the gas as he hits Bagg for a 42 yard gain that soon turns into a 42 yard FG

– Flag

– DeMarco enters the game, going 4/4 for 75 yards and a TD and looks like God simply because Matt Carter (#85), Henry² and Smith suddenly decide to start catching the passes that have been hitting them in the hands all night

Burris knows the feeling of throwing to nobody
Burris knows the feeling of throwing to nobody

– Final Score: 38-14 for the one team I hoped we’d beat more than anyone else this season

Key Stats:

 – Burris went 17 of 33 for 217 yards with 0 TDS and 2 INTS

– Walker had 12 carries for 47 yards

– Collins had 4 catches for 68 yards (and the awesome onside punt recovery TD)

– Justin Capicciotti (#93), Brandon Lang (#91) and Seth Williams (#23) all had 6 tackles

Closing Thoughts: 

The Redblacks were always going to be in tough against the defending Grey Cup champs, but nobody in the stadium thought the game would unravel as quickly as it did (maybe minus the drunk guy with a watermelon mohawk in my section). By going down 24-0 in the 1st quarter, the Redblacks’ game was over before it really had a chance to begin. That being said, there were opportunities to claw back that were…..dropped. Our receivers tonight were terrible, dropping numerous passes that hit them right in the hands. Some of them might not have been easy catches but can we take a minute to remember that these guys are supposed to be professionals? The offensive line had another tough game, failing once again to open holes for Walker and in giving Burris enough time to properly step into his throws. Burris might not have had his best game but anyone pinning this loss on him would be wrong. He gave his guys opportunities to make plays, but too often they let them slip through their hands.

On the defensive side of the ball we always seemed to be a step behind the play. Tackling angles were poor and our front seven failed to apply consistent pressure on Durant, and when you give a guy like him enough time, he’ll pick you apart. With that being said, the defense really stepped up in the second half, limiting the GREENWHITES to 6 points (two FGs). DB Reggie Jones (#20) had a decent debut whereas Seth Williams struggled for the most part in coverage.

Special teams had one shinning moment in an otherwise horrendous game. Dobson Collins’ onside punt recovery was brilliantly executed and was the first onside punt recovery since Dick Adams (of the Ottawa Rough Riders) did it in 1973. The kick coverage was like Swiss cheese, full of holes, and ended up repeatedly flipping field position along with a momentum crushing 111 yard TD return.

The men in stripes dominated the game and there was seemingly a flag after every play. The Redblacks inexcusably took 12 of the 19 penalties for 136 yards, with Jeraill McCuller (#50) picking up three unnecessary roughness flags. Until the coaching staff figures out a way to limit the flags, the Redblacks will continue to struggle to win games.

With a tough Calgary Stampeders team on deck, the Redblacks will have to put this loss behind them and head back to the drawing board.

@RedBlackGade

 *All images courtesy of CFL.ca, Roman Romanovich, and my camera

A TD Place/Lansdowne review ahead of home game #2

Though it feels like it took forever to get here, on Saturday the Ottawa Redblacks will play Home Game #2 against Saskatchewan in front of a second-consecutive sold out crowd at TD Place.

While there was so much to like about the inaugural game experience (winning certainly didn’t hurt), there were also more than a few issues for fans to deal with. OSEG can be excused for many of them, what with the inaugural game being the first real event staged at the new stadium, but there is no doubt they are looking to make a great second impression on Saturday. It was great to see just how seriously they are taking the fan experience, including an email to season ticket holders seeking feedback. Very nicely done.

Here’s our look back:

Lansdowne development

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Though still very much a work in progress, it is not hard to see just how great this place is going to be, especially on game days. Once those restaurants & patios are open for business, lighting the way to the Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne will be a sight.

Pre-Game Party

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Entrances at both the east and west of the Aberdeen Pavilion are used as a smart point of entry to the pre-game not-quite-tailgating-but-the-next-best-thing party area. Once inside the Pavilion (which was more or less a holding area and will probably be used more effectively in the future), alcohol could be purchased inside or outside on the “patio”.

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Food trucks on the patio are a great idea – just need more of them! And The Trews concert was a great surprise. Ottawa’s Sarah McClurg will perform on Saturday.

I was really impressed with this concept OSEG have come up with. I can see the pre-game party becoming a great aspect of game day and draw fans to the park nice & early.

Entering the stadium (North Side)

Entered at Gate 3 to get to our North side (doesn’t suck) seats. Gate 3 was previously only a Civic Centre entrance, so neat that the concourse will now be shared with the football stadium. Will provide for more concessions, bathrooms, etc. – all needed amenities on the North side. However, none of it was really in use for the inaugural game. A bit of a disappointing first impression, but with a little vision, it is easy to see how good the experience will be.

Our seats

As advertised and pretty comfortable. Massive upgrade from the South Side upper deck benches, no doubt. Decent leg room too.

Once in our seats, it was odd not to see a single person selling concessions in the stands. Guessing that will change.

The field

The turf itself looks great, and cool that it stretches all the way across from the North to South stands. I recall the field ‘dropping off’ behind the team benches on the South side at the old stadium. Looks very sharp and clean.

Surprised not to see a Redblacks logo present anywhere on the field – expected something at centre field (TD Place logo instead), as well as in the end zones. Also, the on-field advertisements – their presence an unfortunate reality to begin with, looked somewhat incomplete. Perhaps an issue with the removable paint not adhering as expected? Again, it was the first kick of the can. I’m sure field ops (not to mention the sponsors themselves) will make sure the ads look better this time.

The scoreboard

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Highlight of the night. The thing is a monster. And we had a great view from our northwest seat location.

Did see a tweet or two from east-end North Siders complaining that they couldn’t see it too well. Not sure how OSEG overcome that. Second scoreboard???

Sound system

Shaky at the start, which caused some confusion with the marching band, player introductions & a start to the national anthem that had players running to their sidelines as it began.

Sound got better and clearer in the second half.

Had a good chuckle throughout the game at the first down sound effect, sponsored by Otto’s. We weren’t sure if that was a chainsaw or a revving dirt bike sound effect. Redblacks Twitter was nice enough to confirm.

Concessions

Overall, probably the biggest problem of the night. Simply not enough of them open, and those that were w’re not adequately stocked or prepared for the volume of customers.

The lines on the North side were so long, we abandoned the idea right quick. Instead, we went down to the west side promenade (i.e. the stadium main entrance, behind the west end zone) and walked the South Side to find a little more reasonable beer line ups.

A friend of mine decided to forgo the lineups altogether, deciding instead to leave the stadium, cross Bank St., grabbed a few tall cans from The Beer Store and a few slices from Pizza Pizza, re-enter the stadium and bring it all back to his seats. Not a strategy I’d recommend, but it worked quite nicely for him this night.

By the way, once it’s finished, the main entrance area on Bank is going to be a fantastic place to hang out – before, during or after the game. With benches in place on top of the ‘grassy knoll’ on the west side, some fans spent the entire night hanging out there. Hard to blame them – incredible view.

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Halftime

A nice ceremony to celebrate the re-re-retiring of the numbers of ten former Rough Riders players, as well as honouring Grey Cup victories of the past with signage along the walkway in the east end zone. Having a live camera on the field so that we could actually see the players & families would have added quite a bit to it, but nice nonetheless.

The fans

The excitement in the stands and atmosphere in the stadium really made up for all the other shortcomings on a memorable night. While the inaugural game was no masterpiece, it had the drama, intensity and great finish that sent Redblacks fans home happy.

The cheering and enthusiasm was really something special; unlike anything I have experienced at an Ottawa CFL game. #RNation made an amazing first impression.

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Chills. It was great.

I won’t be there on Saturday, but will be watching & listening closely for your feedback on the game day improvements. Follow along on Twitter for the latest.

@OTTRoughRiders