Delays, Controversy and a Winner

Courtesy of Sportsology.com and The 20-Yard End Zone

By Footloose

It was an interesting week in the CFL.

Things started Thursday night in Winnipeg on Milt Stegall Night. 

After a lightning delay of more than two hours, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stormed out of the gate and took a 34-0 halftime lead on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and would win 37-11.

Stegall, the second all-time leading receiver in CFL history behind Geroy Simon, was honored with his family at halftime. Stegall, a Cincinnati native, played at Miami (OH) and then was a Cincinnati Bengal for three seasons before going to Green Bay and then to Winnipeg. During his career, he was a favorite of ESPN personality Chris Berman.

CJ Roberts scored on a pick six early in the game, and then Matt Nichols fired TD passes to Thomas Mayo and Clarence Denmark. Andrew Harris scored a touchdown on the ground.

Hamilton scored a TD in the third quarter when Jeremiah Masoli connected with Terrence Toliver for a 44-yard gain to set up a one-yard TD run by Jeff Mathews.

BC wins in Montreal

Friday night, the BC Lions went into Montreal and outscored the Alouettes 15-0 in the fourth quarter to win 38-18.

Jonathan Jennings completed 27 of 32 passes and tossed a TD to Manny Arceneuax. Jeremiah Johnson scored a touchdown on the ground, and Loucheiz Purifoy made the play of the game by scooping up a loose ball and scoring on a fumble recovery. Richie Leone added four field goals.

BC sacked Montreal QB Kevin Glenn six times. Glenn threw a TD pass to BJ Cunningham and ran for one score.

Bo knows winning

Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders is the all-time leader CFL in winning percentage among quarterbacks, and he played like it Friday.

Mitchell threw for 312 yards and fired a TD to Anthony Parker in the 35-15 win over Saskatchewan. Jerome Messam and Andrew Buckley ran for TDs. Rene Paredes kicked four field goals.

Rob Bagg scored on a 48-yard pass from Darian Durant for the Riders.

Controversy in Ottawa

All eyes were on Henry Burris as he bounced back with a 23-20 win over the defending Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos in a penalty-filled contest in Ottawa Saturday night.

Burris threw TD passes to Ernest Jackson and former New Orleans Saint Chris Williams. After a Jermaine Robinson interception and long return in the dying minutes of the game, Chris Milo kicked a 17-yard field goal to give Ottawa a 23-20 lead. The Redblacks’ defence then came up big by forcing three Mike Reilly incompletions for the win.

Edmonton scored the most unusual TD of the year when a Burris pass appeared to hit the ground but it actually bounced off Williams’ foot and went high into the air. JC Sherritt interception the ball on the run and raced down the sideline to dive into the end zone. Reilly hit Chris Getzlaf, the brother of NHL star Ryan Getzlaf, for the two-point convert.

At halftime, Burris was interviewed by TSN’s Matthew Scianitti, and he unleashed a rant about the criticism and doubts he has faced from fans and, in particular, the TSN panel.

“Henry and I are friends and we have talked about it and shared a laugh,” said Milt Stegall, one of the panelists, in an interview that can be heard on our podcast.

This week’s games

Thursday – Montreal at Edmonton

Neither team has consistently been able to put a full 60 minutes of football together this year, but both teams have explosive passing games. Look for a high-scoring barnburner.

Friday – Winnipeg at Toronto

Toronto is quietly one of the best teams in the league, and back-up Logan Kilgore shone in his first CFL start after replacing an injured Ricky Ray. Winnipeg is also trending upward, and this is a new team after Matt Nichols replaced Drew Willy as the starting QB.

Saturday – Calgary at Saskatchewan

The Riders are a much better team playing in front of the best fans in the CFL at home. They beat Ottawa at home, but can they beat Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders?

Saturday – Hamilton at BC

Zach Collaro smakes his return to the Tiger-Cats’ line up as they face the red hot BC Lions in Vancouver. Hamilton needs a win to keep pace with Toronto and Ottawa in the standings, but BC has been a juggernaut behind coach Wally Buono and quarterback Jonathan Jennings.

Thanks for reading!

@DefendTheR

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#TBT: Reminiscing with Pat Fleming

By: Santino Filoso

Pat Flemming Ottawa Renegades 2003. Photo Scott Grant

Today’s interview features Ottawa native and former Renegades punter Pat Fleming. With 19,838 career punting yards to his credit, Pat averaged 41.7 yards per kick over the course of his five years in the CFL. The Renegades’ 2003 rookie of the year was selected by the Hamilton Ticats in the Renegades’ dispersal draft and finished his career with the Winnipeg Bombers.

As an Ottawa native, did you go to many Rough Rider games as a child?

My dad was a season ticket holder when I was growing up and still is today.  I went to a lot of the games with him and loved it. I have lots of memories growing up watching the Rough Riders and actually my 5th grade project was on the CFL and the Grey Cup.

Have you always been a punter or did you make the switch from another position at some point?

Growing up I played defensive back (DB) and free safety (FS).  When I went to college at Bowling Green I went as a safety and punter.  Once I earned a scholarship as the starting punter I knew my days playing DB were over.  That’s when I became strictly a punter. I started punting and kicking when I was 10 years old when my coach at the time asked us “Who can kick the ball?”.  I didn’t know I could until I tried it but I was the best on our team and realized I was blessed with the ability to kick the ball far. The rest is history.

The Renegades selected you in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft (11th overall), did you have any idea that they were interested in you?

None whatsoever, my mother heard it on the radio and she called me to let me know. At the time I still had a year left at Bowling Green.

How did it feel to spend three years playing for your hometown team?

It was amazing. There’s nothing like playing on the same field where you grew up watching Rough Rider greats and dreaming about being a professional football player. I enjoyed my time in Hamilton and Winnipeg, but nothing compares to playing in your home town, in front of friends and family. I loved my time in Ottawa.

On your first kick you ended up spraining your ankle and missing a few weeks, probably not how you imagined your debut going right?

Not at all, but luckily I had a good week in camp before that exhibition game so the coaching staff didn’t judge me on that punt, which wasn’t my best.  It happened so fast and I ended up missing the first five games due to that high ankle sprain.

Looking back on your time with the Renegades, what sticks with you the most?

That I got to play on the same field that Rough Riders like Orville Lee, Rohan Marley, Ken Evraire, Terry Baker, Damon Allen and Darren Joseph played on. It’s funny because when I was in the 5th grade Damon Allen came to my school and talked to my class, 15 years later I’m teammates with Darren Joseph and playing against Damon Allen. Talk about surreal.

I’m not sure if you’re aware but according to CFL.ca you’ve got a career QB rating of -414.6 for attempting two passes that were both picked off. Is that an accurate reflection of your QB skills?’

LOL. Despite being picked off I think both worked out okay. The first pass was a fake punt call in Montreal.  I rolled left and tried to throw the ball to the receiver but was picked off.  It ended up working out okay as it yielded us about 18 yards in field position. The second attempt wasn’t a called fake punt, but came off a bad snap. I knew I couldn’t get the punt off without it being blocked, so I took off and ran for the first down marker. Initially I saw the chains and thought I could make it, only to realize that I was looking at the beginning of the chains and still had another 10 yards to go with a DB barreling down on me.  I reacted quickly and threw towards a receiver, but was intercepted again. We still gained 25 yards so it wasn’t a total disaster.

As the punter you often end up as the last man between the returner and the end zone, what kind of things go through your mind when you know that you HAVE to make that open field tackle?

I loved it.  Growing up playing safety I enjoyed contact and wasn’t shy of hitting.  I always used to run down field quickly for two reasons.  One was to get involved in the action and make some tackles and the other was because the returners were faster than me. Tackling the extremely fast guys in the open field was very difficult, so by running down field I could contain them in the holes before they’d break free.

Could you share with our readers who might not know, why you changed your number from 48 to 28?

When I was drafted the coaches asked me if I wanted to keep my college number and I said yes. I ended up changing numbers because we ran a fake field goal where it was a direct snap to our kicker Lawrence Tynes.  I was the holder and ran down the line towards the right as Lawrence shovel passed me the ball.  It worked great and I gained 18 yards before being knocked out of bounds on the 3 yard line. Unfortunately it was called back on a flag for an “ineligible receiver”. Back then players with numbers in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s had to report to the ref before the play.  The coaching staff wasn’t aware and so the next day when I came to practice they told me my new number was 28 so that if we ever ran the fake again I’d actually be eligible.

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What was your favourite fake or trick play to run?

The one I just mentioned because it was my play. What I mean by that is that I came up with it in practice and the coaches actually ran it.

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Did you have any specific pre-game rituals or habits?

I’d always go for a walk about 4-5 hours before the game, come back and eat my pre-game meal.

What’s worse to kick in, rain or extreme cold? 

Cold is hard because your hands get so dry and slick that the ball slips out of your hands. You end up constantly licking them to get some tack on them. Rain isn’t much fun either, but the ball boys usually do a good job keeping the balls dry. I always thought the worst were games in late October/early November where it was both cold and rainy.

Hang time > directional kicking?

I played college ball in the States so hang time was a big deal.  I loved punting for hang time.  I was blessed with a strong leg so I was able to get great air under the ball. I struggled with directional kicking throughout my career because I never actually had to do it in college. I always preferred punting for hang time as it was more natural for me.

Pat Fleming Ottawa Renegades. Photo F. Scott Grant

Just how hard is it to angle a kick to a certain point on the field?

It’s hard because there are factors that people don’t think of such as the snap, blocking protection, wind, the rushers barreling at you and your steps have to be exact. In most CFL stadiums the wind swirls so the direction you see the flags moving on the field isn’t always accurate.

Is there one thing about being a kicker that most people probably don’t realize?

How athletic you need to be.  Kickers and punters for the most part have to be athletic and not just able to kick a ball.  Most kickers and punters in the CFL/NFL were great athletes growing up and played multiple position in high school.

Are you a fan of the rouge or is there some merit to the argument that it rewards failure? 

I don’t think it rewards failure and it’s been part of our game for so long so I say keep it. Plus it’s one of those things that makes our game different from the NFL.

Since you retired what have you been doing for work?

I’m a licensed kinesiologist and the owner of Fleming Fitness. We’re a team of certified trainers and kinesiologists that specialize in injury rehab. We’re mobile, so we go into people’s homes and help them get set up on an exercise program designed for their needs.

flemingfitness

Have you ever given any thought to coaching?

Nah,  I try and help out kids as much as I can as a guest coach. That’s the extent of my coaching career.

Last year the Redblacks struggled to a 2-16 record, what do they need to address this off-season to ensure they improve next season?

First off, I think we were better than our record showed.  We competed in a lot of games and lost some really tough, close games.  Our defense was great.  The offense struggled a bit, but with our new additions to OL and WR I think we’ll be better.  Adding Jason Maas as the Offensive Coordinator was a great addition as well.  He had a great CFL career as a player and it seems to be translating over into his coaching career.  We were teammates in 2006 in Hamilton and he was one of the hardest working guys on the team by far. In terms of special teams I think Maher did a good job punting and kicking.

Thanks for your time and best of luck in your future endeavours!

@RedBlackGade

– Images via Scott Grant

46 Redblacks Took the Field Friday Night, You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next…

By: Santino Filoso

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On a beautiful fall night for football in front of their 7th straight sell-out crowd, the Ottawa Redblacks snapped their 9-game losing streak in dramatic fashion. A strong running game and suffocating defence moved Ottawa’s record to 2-11 on the year, mathematically keeping them in the playoff race for another week.

Pre-game:

– The Winnipeg Free Press features an awesome article on the CFL’s return to it’s rightful place in Ottawa

– Even a 9-game losing streak can’t dampen R-Nation’s enthusiasm on game day

– Carleton Security waits until the 7th home game to declare tailgating illegal, probably on grounds of safety. Meanwhile students continue to drink themselves blind in their dorms, Mike’s and Ollie’s

tailgating
Highly suspicious activity, right in the middle of class!

– Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame welcomes Ed Laverty and NCAFA president Steve Dean into their ranks

– The man in charge of Canada decides to take in the game

– Proving that offensive lineman don’t run an inch more than they need to, Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) just clears the tunnel

gottwalk
This angle is referred to as the “Snap Cam”

– The Redblacks lose yet another coin flip, falling to 3-12 on the year

1st Quarter:

– Setting the tone early, Travis “Sticky Fingers” Brown (#43) shows why he’s Ottawa’s tip drill champ, picking off an errant pass and taking it 37 yards to the house behind a massive block from Jasper Simmons (#31)

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– Henry Burris (#1) and the offence start out strong as Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) and Dobson Collins (#80) make back to back first down catches but after the zebras ignore a blatant face mask, Brett Maher’s (#3) 52 yard FG attempt is shanked and returned 114 yards for a TD

– The Redblacks go two and out while Maher takes out his anger on the ensuing punt, smashing it into the stratosphere

– Antoine “The Phenom” Pruneau (#6) nearly gives Ottawa their second pick six of the night but can’t squeeze it

– Henry² lets an easy catch bounce off his fingers into the arms of a Bomber defender who brings it back to Ottawa’s 46 yard line

– Jerrell Gavins (#24) knifes in and takes down Grigbsy in the backfield

– 6’3”, 235 pound defensive lineman Justin Capicciotti (#93) drops into coverage and makes an incredible open field tackle to prevent a touchdown, Bombers settle for a 9 yard field goal

– Jonathon Williams (#23) busts an 11 yard run to end the quarter

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2nd Quarter:

– Ottawa’s offensive line fails to pick up the blitz and Burris is sacked for a 4 yard loss

– Following Maher’s punt, double fouls on the Bombers force them to start on their own 3 yard line

– Under heavy pressure, Willy just manages to get back to the line of scrimmage before being tackled by Zack Evans (#92)

evanssack

– Feeling jealous as the spotlight shift away from him to Henry²  who hauls in back to back catches, Williams literally makes something out of nothing on a 53 yard run into the end zone

– Sloppy special teams tackling on full display as Winnipeg takes the kick off  61 yards to start at Ottawa’s 43 yard line

– The Redblack’s lead disappears faster than your date when the bill arrives as the Bombers regain the lead by punching it in from the 1 following a Clarence Denmark 28 yard catch and run

– Burris gets nailed with a late hit and goes down hurt, Bombers get flagged for roughing the passer and Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game

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– Williams continues to rip off strong runs, gaining 6 and 27 yards on consecutive plays before O’Brien caps off the drive with a 5 yard TD pass to Khalil Paden (#13), who knew both of his back ups would throw TDs at home before Burris?

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– Showing no confidence that their special teamers can make a tackle, the Redblacks squib the kick off to avoid giving up a long return

-Capicciotti’s 2nd down sack is wiped out by an offside flag giving Winnipeg new life

– The Bombers forego a 45 yard FG attempt and heavy pressure causes Willy to throw an incompletion 3rd and 5

– R-Nation breathes a sigh of relief as Burris returns and proceeds to hit Paden and Wallace Miles (#84) for gains of 20 and 9 yards as FB John Delahunt (#49) absolutely earholes a defensive lineman.

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– Burris dumps a short pass to Williams who makes 4 guys miss as he rumbles 37 yards to the 3 yard line

– Finding the push that was lacking last week, Burris dives into the end zone on a QB sneak for the TD.

– After 30 minutes the Redblacks lead 28-17

Half-time:

– Karate and Dragon Ball Z replace pigskin on the field for 10 minutes

3rd Quarter:

– Ottawa receives and Burris is forced to take a timeout because Williams forgets to come on the field

– Wallace “Money” Miles (#84) makes  a 17 yard catch, fumbles and recovers

– More strong running from Williams plus catches by Marter (Matt Carter #85), Miles and Delahunt lead to a 25 yard Maher FG

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Williams was so in the zone he even had time to stop and give Burris a hug before taking the hand off

– Refs do their best to steal the show when Jermaine Robinson (#32) is flagged for a late hit on not a late hit

– Jealous of all the attention the other Williams is getting,  Jonathon “Big” Williams (#75) takes down Willy

– On the ensuing punt “Big” Williams takes his 800th unnecessary roughness penalty giving the Bombers a fresh set of downs

– Brandyn Thompson (#25) drops a interception in the back of the end zone

– Winnipeg’s 23 yard FG makes it 31-20

– Burris and company roll as Marter and Dobson haul in 13 and 14 yard cathces, while Willams gains 17 on the ground before taking a screen another 15 yards

– Scott Macdonell (#83) impresses for the 2nd straight week with a 23 yard catch and run, stepping out of bounds on the 3

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– Williams second TD of the night caps off an 8 play 75 yard drive

– The Redblacks tack on a single as the kickoff rolls through the end zone

– Former Bomber Jovon Johnson (#2) blows up a wide receiver screen

– Rod Black notes it’s starting to rain and says “Willy’s got to deal with wet balls now”

– After three quarters R-Nation feels like this finally might be the one we don’t find a way to lose

4th Quarter:

– Maher splits the uprights with a 32 yard FG

– A drunk fan takes the field and chest bumps a few defensive players before security hauls him away

– Nursing a huge lead, the Redblacks defence goes to work as R-Nation ramps up the noise.Capicciotti gets a sack and the Bombers get flagged for two false starts before they punt

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Go go gadget arms!

– The Bombers recover a Patrick Lavoie (#81) fumble but the defence bails him out with back to back sacks from Evans and Andrew Marshall (#90)

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– The Redblacks go two and out with two incomplete passes as Mike Gibson once again abandons the run

– Willy gets hit as he throws and Gavins gets Ottawa’s second pick of the night and returns it 65 yards. Gavins is shaken up on the play as he’s dragged down from behind

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– Faced with 3rd and 3 on Winnipeg’s 33 yard line, the Redblacks keep their offence on the field and turn the ball over on downs when Burris’ pass falls incomplete

– Moton Hopkins (#95) gets in on the sack attack, dropping Willy for a 5 yard loss

– Ottawa gets their 3rd interception of the night courtesy of Thompson

– Multiple hand offs to Williams close out the game as the Redblacks run the clock and move the chains

mandatoryfireworksinvformation
All victory formations should have mandatory fireworks

Final score: Redblacks 42, Winnipeg, way less than that so who cares!

Key Stats:

Burris completed 24 of 31 passes (77%) for 284 yards with 1 INT

Williams ran the ball 21 times for 180 yards and 2 TDs

Miles hauled in 3 passes for 55 yards

Maher punted 3 times for 156 yards

Gavins made 8 tackles and 1 INT

Closing Thoughts:

Finally. R-Nation packed TD Place seven times waiting for a dominating win and they finally got it as the Redblacks beat up on the slumping Blue Bombers.  Ottawa’s offence came alive at home as TD Place finally lived up to its name. Burris was incredibly sharp, completing pass after pass as his receivers ran crisp routes and hung onto the ball. The star of the game was Williams as he tore through Winnipeg’s defence piling up 229 total yards. The offensive line deserves major props for opening huge holes and keeping Burris upright. Many people in Ottawa had been calling for OC Mike Gibson’s head (myself included) but tonight’s 500 yards of total offence will go a long way towards appeasing the masses.

Aside from a few miscues, the defence was their typical stingy selves, generating three interceptions to go along with six sacks. Willy rarely had a clean pocket to throw from and heavy pressure led to a number of incompletions; the defensive line simply terrorized and imposed their will on the Bombers. Numerous players stood out but Gavins in particular had a whale of a game as he made a number of tackles to go along with his near pick six.

Maher had a decent night kicking though long his long range FG attempts continue to miss. Special teams tackling was incredibly poor and the Redblacks are lucky that the TD they gave up didn’t come back to haunt them.

All in all this was exactly what the Redblacks and their fans needed. Ottawa’s had some terrible luck throughout their 9 game losing streak and fans who did their part by continuing to back the team through their growing pains were rewarded with the Redblacks’ most impressive effort of the year. R-Nation gets a special shout out for making TD Place LOUD. The team feeds off the crowd’s energy and the fans were definitely a factor tonight. With the playoffs still a long shot, Ottawa will spend Thanksgiving weekend in BC to take on the Lions and hopefully build off their impressive win.

@RedBlackGade

– All images via the Ottawa’s Redblacks site