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 ErnestJackson 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.
Seems like the Ottawa Redblacks aren’t quite done making off-season moves. Early Tuesday morning the team leaked news via their twitter account that they had a major announcement to make and members of #RNation began speculating immediately as to what it could be.
By signing the diminutive 5’ 8″ and 175 pound all-star Chris Williams to a one year deal, the Redblacks have added one of the most dynamic CFL players in recent memory. Williams, a dual threat WR and KR was named the CFL’s most outstanding rookie in 2011 when he broke into the league with 70 receptions for 1064 receiving yards and 6 TDs.
Williams’ sophomore season was just as impressive, as he was named the CFL’s most outstanding special teams player, making 83 catches for 1298 yards with receiving 11 TDs to go along with 5 punt return touchdowns. Who was throwing Williams the ball in 2012? None other than current Redblacks’ QB Henry Burris. If they can quickly re-establish that kind of rapport, TD Place might finally start living up to it’s name.
After the 2012 season, Williams left the CFL following a contract dispute with the Hamilton Ticats and wound up signing with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in 2013. Following a short stint with the Chicago Bears last season, Williams was thought to be a long shot to return to the CFL, as he’s someone who still garners NFL interest, as evidenced by his workout earlier this month with the Cincinnati Bengals. Though he hasn’t played a ton of snaps over the last two seasons, his 101 yard kick return touchdown last year vs the Green Bay Packers shows that his agility and speed haven’t diminished.
GM Marcel Desjardins deserves major props for a) making this deal happen and b) keeping it under wraps until this morning’s email to season ticket holders. At Williams’ introductory press conference Desjardins explained how things fell into place to get the deal done.
Though Williams will have to re-adjust to the CFL, the wider field and recent rule changes should enable him to pick up right where he left off. Plus at only 27 years of age, Williams theoretically should still have his best years in front of him.
From that group, the only WR who returned kicks last season was Jamill Smith. Smith had decent numbers, averaging 20.9 yards on kick returns and 8.6 yards on punts but Smith’s longest return was only 38 yards and he failed to score a touchdown. Though he seems like a great guy and has been very involved in the community, living in Ottawa this off-season and visiting schools with Big Joe and other Redblacks’ players, the Williams signing probably signals the end of Smith’s time with the team.
Chris Williams is yet another game breaker for Jason Maas to scheme with and it seems safe to say that the drops and lack of explosive plays that plagued the Redblacks last season won’t be repeated in 2015. With the Redblacks’ mini-camp set to start next week, it’ll be interesting to see how the battle for roster spots shakes out in Ottawa’s competitive and now very talented WR group.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Just over 24 hours into free agency and the Redblacks off-season can already be declared a smashing success. Ottawa had some major roster holes to fill following a disappointing 2-16 season and four key signings by GM Marcel Desjardins should go a long way to reassure R-Nation that 2015 will indeed be a much better year on the field for the Redblacks.
The process of overhauling the offence began with the firing of Mike Gibson and the hiring of Jason Maas to replace him, along with a trade that sent LB Jasper Simmons, the Redblacks 2014 MOP (Most Outstanding Player) to Calgary for established veteran WR Maurice Price. The offensive retooling continued yesterday with the signings of a trio of 6 foot plus WRs; Ernest Jackson (International), Brad Sinopoli (National) and Greg Ellingson (International).
R-Nation is already quite familiar with Brad Sinopoli as the 26 year old Peterborough native played QB at the University of Ottawa, winning the Hec Crighton Trophy as the most outstanding CIS football player in 2010. After being drafted by the Stampeders in the 4th round of the 2011 draft, Sinopoli spent two seasons as their 3rd string quarterback before making the difficult transition from QB to WR. Last year the 6’4”, 215 pound Sinopoli started 12 games for Calgary, making 20 catches for 197 yards and scoring 2 TDs.
Not only will the Redblacks now have better players on the receiving end of passes, but the guys throwing them the ball should have more time too, thanks to the addition of the 6’4”, 319 pound SirVincent Rogers. With a pedigree almost as interesting as his name, Rogers spent the last two years protecting Ricky Ray’s blind side. Before coming up to the CFL, Rogers spent 2012 in the AFL, winning the AFL championship and playing offensive line and tight end for the Arizona Rattlers. As a TE he made 5 catches for 129 yards and 2 TDs so maybe when Jason Maas digs into his bag of trick plays we’ll see SirVincent catching some passes at TD Place.
In 2014 the Redblacks had over 45 dropped passes and many were drive and momentum killers. With the addition of Jackson, Sinopoli and Ellingson through free agency and the acquiring of Price through trade, Ottawa’s receiving corps has seemingly gone from a glaring weakness to a strength. New OL Coach Bryan Chiu now has an extremely large and talented Rogers to work with and their familiarity from their time together in Toronto with the Argos is an added benefit. When you factor in that most of the top prospects in the CFL draft are offensive lineman and that Ottawa holds the #1 overall pick, the two positions that the Redblacks really couldn’t count on last season suddenly look much better.
On another level, as a Redblacks fan you can’t help but smile seeing Desjardins come out of the gate swinging. His aggressiveness in pursuing free agents and improving the team is one that many Ottawa Senators fans wished their GM would show. The contrast between Jeff Hunt and OSEG’s commitment to fielding a winning and competitive team is never more evident than when one looks at the Sens and Eugene Melynk’s cheap ways.
At this point in time I don’t see the Redblacks making any more big signings, other than perhaps a few depth guys, maybe at QB, RB or LB. It’s also worth noting that Ottawa officially lost one of their own free agents when OL Alex “Truckstick” Krausnick signed the Eskimos. One year after being selected by the Redblacks in their expansion draft, Krausnick wasted no time in returning to Edmonton.
Let us know what you think about the Redblacks free agency moves so far in the comments below.
Yesterday afternoon, the Ottawa Redblacks held a press conference to formally introduce Jason Maas as the team’s new offensive co-ordinator. Maas’ hiring had been rumoured since the weekend but only became official on Wednesday afternoon.
Maas, a former QB, played 11 seasons in the CFL with the Eskimos, Ticats and Alouettes. Twice he was a finalist for the league’s MOP award and also sports two Grey Cup rings from the 2003 and 2005 seasons. In 2004, Maas established a CFL record with 22 straight completions, a record that still stands to this day. After retiring in May 2011, Maas was quickly hired as a WR coach by the Toronto Argos. In 2013 he was promoted to QB coach and worked closely with Argos QB Ricky Ray.
By choosing to hire the 39 year old (who is actually 5 months younger than Henry Burris), the Redblacks went with youth and potential over more established candidates such as Paul LaPolice or George Cortez. Here’s Head Coach Rick Campbell’s explanation of the hiring:
“Jason has many qualities that make him a great coach with a bright future. His positive approach to teaching brings out the best in the players. His outstanding work ethic and ‘can-do’ attitude are infectious and help to create a winning team atmosphere. He has an outstanding knowledge of the CFL, the game and its players and we know that having him as a member of our staff is going to help our team.”
Personally, I love this move. Maas is an extremely intelligent guy known for his attention to detail and strong work ethic. The fact that he’s a proven winner and been around a guy like Ricky Ray in the Argos offensive system, one of the best in the league, is a huge positive. Furthermore, Maas has strong relationships with many current players as not too long ago he played with or against them. Those relationships could prove to be beneficial as Ottawa tries to sign free agents.
With the Maas connection to the #RedBlacks, wouldn't be shocked if WR Fred Stamps ends up there for 2015. #CFL
Though expectations are high, former offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson didn’t exactly leave big shoes to fill. In 2014 the Redblacks averaged 15.4 points a game and only scored a pathetic 24 touchdowns. When pressed for details about the kind of system he’s looking to implement, Maas replied by saying
“It’s not hard to figure what kind of offence I’ll run, I’ve been around some great offensive minds in the CFL, starting with Danny Maciocia and Scott Milanovich, and the offence we’ll run is very similar to what Scott’s been running in Toronto and what Marc Trestman brought up here.”
How can a member of R-Nation not smile when hearing those words?
On a cold, windy, Halloween night, the Ticats rolled into town for the Redblacks final home game of the season. As has come to be expected, R-Nation packed TD Place, selling it out for the 9th straight time and proving once and for all that Ottawa IS a football town. Though the home fans were treated to a much more exciting game than the usual defensive struggle they normally see, ultimately the Redblacks lost once again.
– In yet another classy move, OSEG continues to link Ottawa’s storied football history to the present by renaming and dedicating the press box to long time Rough Rider announcer Ernie Calcutt
– R-Nation goes all out to get into the Halloween spirit
– Good to see that PA announcer Mike. Sutherland is recovering well from his recent plastic surgery
– Players gather at centre field to salute the fans, who once again do their part, selling out TD Place for the 9th straight time
– Ottawa wins the coin toss to move their toss record to 5-14 on the year
– Roy Finch (#19) returns the opening kick off 38 yards to start the game
– Ottawa goes two and out after FB John “Boom” Delahunt (#49) makes a 4 yard catch and a deep pass for Matt “Matty Ice” Carter (#85) is broken up
– A beautiful punt by Brett Maher (#3) and great coverage pins the Ticats inside their own 10
– Jovon “The Vet” Johnson (#2) comes roaring in on the corner blitz and brings down Collaros for his second sack of the year
– Catches by Carter and Wallace “Boom or Bust” Miles (#84) help the Redblacks march into the red zone but the drive stalls when Burris is sacked and overthrows an open Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) in the end zone
– Maher pushes his 29 yard FG wide right but gets the single so Ottawa takes a 1-0 lead
– Heavy pressure forces Collaros to throw an incompletion on 2nd down and the Ticats go two and out
– Danny “Boy” O’Brien (#9) enters the game and immediately hits Henry² for a 20 yard gain
– The Redblacks cover 86 yards in 7 plays for a touchdown on Jeremiah “Flow” Johnson’s (#27) back as he gets it done with hard running and a beautiful executed screen. O’Brien is shaken up on the drive after being levelled while completing a pass
– On 2nd down, Travis Brown (#43) and Jermaine Robinson (#32) meet at the QB and sack Collaros for a big loss, Ticats come away with nothing after a long drive
– Ticats get the ball and march down the field thanks to sloppy arm tackles and flags. Capicciotti gets his 2nd sack of the night but Hamilton takes the lead with a 22 yard FG
– With Burris in at QB the offence puts together one of it’s best drives of the night; Johnson picks up 28 yards on two runs, Delahunt hauls in an 11 yard pass, Smith gains 9 yards on sweep, Burris gives the Redblacks a fresh set of downs after a QB sneak and Johnson caps the drive off in style, juking 25 yards into the end zone, making Ticat defenders look silly
Broken record. IMAGINE IF OTTAWA RAN THE BALL ALL YEAR, FOLKS. LIKE, FROM WEEK 1. JUST IMAGINE. JUST. IMAGINE. #Redblacks#CFL#FNF
– Brown gets the ball back for Ottawa when he absolutely blows up Terrell Sinkfield and forces a fumble that is scooped up by DL Moton “The Motivator” Hopkins (#95)
– Johnson runs for a short gain and Burris is sacked on 2nd down. A bonehead after the whistle flag on OL Colin Kelly (#67) pushes the Redblacks back an extra 15 yards
– Hamilton RB Mossis Madu wobbles off the field after getting walloped by a trio of Ottawa defenders
– Ticats increase their lead with a 28 yard FG
– Miles season is summed up in a nutshell as he drops an easy pass before making two tough catches over the middle for gains of 19 and 12 yards respectively. Maher’s 42 yard FG makes it 27-25
– Smith blows up a run for a loss and Collaros throws an incompletion as the Ticats go two and out
– Inside the shadow of his own goal posts, Burris is sacked and then proceeds to show that anything O’Brien can do he can do better by throwing his own pick six
– HC Rick Campbell decides to keep O’Brien on the bench and Burris trots back out (after the game we learn that O’Brien was hurt)
– Ottawa is saved by the flag when a sack is wiped out by a roughing the passer call
– Carter gets way behind the defence but a sure fire touchdown falls incomplete, rolling off his fingertips
– Khalil Paden (#13), Patrick Lavoie (#81), Miles and Carter all make catches to get the Redblacks into the red zone but OC Mike Gibson decides to run the ball on 2nd down which results in a 4 yard loss
– On 3rd and 7, down by 9 with 1:47 left and on the Ticat’s 19 yard line, Campbell chooses NOT to kick the FG to cut the lead to 6 and instead Burris’ pass is picked off in the end zone
– Hamilton strings together a few first downs to run out the clock
Final score: 34-25
Burris went 15 of 22 for 222 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs
O’Brien went 6 of 10 for 83 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs
Johnson had 17 carries for 131 yards and 2 TDs
Carter made 5 catches 81 yards and 1 TD
Capicciotti made 4 tackles and 2 sacks
Maher punted 4 times for 180 yards
Once again the Redblacks take two steps forward and two steps back. It’s hard to win CFL games and it’s damn near impossible to win when you have 5 turnovers (with 21 points off them), give up a 103 yard kick off TD return and throw two pick sixes.
The dual QB attack was effective early but seemed to hinder both QBs as the game worn on, as neither one seemed to be able to settle into a rhythm, both overthrowing receivers and tossing interceptions. A case could be made for either QB having the better game but in the end neither did enough to protect the ball. The run game was extremely effective as Jeremiah Johnson tore through the Ticats like a knife through hot butter. Inexplicably, in spite of the run game rolling on all cylinders, OC Mike Gibson sometimes got away from the run which lead to two and outs. The WRs were led by Miles and Carter and once again though Carter had a strong game, ultimately he will be remembered for the late drop when he was wide open. Disappointingly, promising rookie Scott Macdonell (#83) never saw the field, despite proving his value in recent weeks. The shuffled offensive line looked very good when run blocking, opening up huge running lanes for Johnson to exploit but failed to pick up the blitz in pass protection several times, giving up sacks in crucial situations. Mike Gibson chose not to take advantage of Hamilton’s aggressiveness with bland play calling, calling only one screen and no draws or misdirection plays. Still, it was one of the team’s better offensive performances on the year, though much of the good work they did was undone with interceptions and fumbles.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redblacks made the Ticats grind out every drive. Collaros was under duress for the whole game but often hung in the pocket just long enough to take a hit and deliver the pass for a first down gain. The Redblacks routinely blew up plays in the backfield for losses, setting up 2nd and long and allowing them to blitz and tee off on Collaros. Though they didn’t score, the unit generated another turnover and bailed out the offence after O’Brien’s first pick, sacking Collaros to push the Ticats out of FG range. Technically the defence only gave up 13 points with 14 of the Ticats 34 coming off interceptions taken to the house and 7 from a kick return.
Special teams again winded up costing Ottawa big time. As has been the case all season long, Maher punted extremely well but shanked a short FG, points that would’ve come in handy late in the game. The most glaring error was the team surrendering yet another long kick return touchdown, the 6th return touchdown given up by the Redblacks this year.
Head Coach Rick Campbell will take some flak this week for another puzzling decision. Late in the game on 3rd and 7 when down by 9, he chose to forgo the FG and instead go for the end zone. If the Redblacks kick a field goal at that point they extend the game, keep hope alive and give their offence another shot. Instead, by choosing to go for it, the game was effectively over the second the Redblacks didn’t convert that play. As has happened the past few weeks, Campbell looked like a rookie coach simply blowing an important decision late in the game. Clearly he’s still learning how to properly manage a game but as a fan it’s much more frustrating to see a coach make a mistake than a player.
Looking back, this year will be a disappointment but it’s important to remember that this was Ottawa’s 10th loss by 10 points or less this season. The Redblacks may have lost 15 games but they were almost never blown out. Thankfully their two wins came at home and it was fantastic to see the community of Ottawa embracing their new team, selling out every home game. Many of the players on the team played their last game in front of R-Nation tonight and they’ll look back on their time in the Nation’s Capital with fond memories. Next up for the Redblacks is a date with the Argos in the soulless stadium once known as the Sky Dome. Ottawa will potentially have the opportunity to knock the Argos out of playoffs and with jobs on the line you can be sure the team will bring their A game.
On a windy Friday night, the Redblacks rolled into Steel Town seeking to play spoiler after being embarrassed last week in BC. Though the defence was once again back in fine form, ultimately a toothless offence and a number of penalties prevented Ottawa from getting its first win on the road. With the loss the Redblacks fall to 0-8 on the road and 2-13 on the year and ensure that they’ll be drafting first next May.
– Hardcore fans braved the smog and Ticats fans to represent R-Nation deep into enemy territory; a few took advantage of an away trip package, others won a contest, and some made the trip by themselves, either way, big props to all of them
– On the heels of their worst loss of the season and one in which the offence struggled to move the ball with any consistency, the coaching staff made a number of line up changes. Wide receivers Khalil Paden (#13), Jamill Smith (#15) and Dobson Collins (#80) were replaced by Dan Buckner (#82), Carlton Mitchell (#88) and Onrea Jones (#89)
– In something that’s become so common it could simply be part of their pre-game ritual, Ottawa loses the coin toss
– Ottawa kicks off and Antoine “The Phenom” Pruneau (#6) quickly makes his presence felt with a special teams tackle
– The Redblacks give up a ton of yards on the Ticats’ opening drive but eventually force them to settle for a 22 yard FG
– Roy Finch (#19) loses a yard on a pitch and a pass intended for Marter (Matt Carter #85) falls incomplete as the Redblacks go two and out to start the game
– Strong defensive play forces a two and not quite out for the Ticats
– On 3rd and 13 the Redblacks get caught with their pants down when the Ticats fake the punt for a huge gain. Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock lobs a 21 yard pass that is nearly broken up by Eric Fraser (#7) but ultimately caught for a first down
– Hamilton punts for a rouge to go up 4-0
– Wallce “Boom or Bust” Miles (#84) goes offsides and drops a pass that hits him in the hands but is bailed out by Marter’s 26 yard grab
– Following two runs by Jeremiah Johnson (#27) for 9 yards, Head Coach Rick Campbell choses to punt on 3rd and 1, despite being on Hamilton’s side of the field
@RedBlackGade Followed by classic Campbell. 3&1 on Ham 40, of course the 2-11 team punts. Magic 8 ball said punt. #SickOfThis
– The Redblacks receive and move the chains a few times thanks to catches from Marter, Patrick Lavoie (#81) and Onrea Jones (#89) but the drive bogs down when Burris is stripped while scrambling, lucky Ottawa recovers to punt
– On 2nd and 15, Pruneau gets his 2nd sack of the year which leads to points when the Ticats chose to concede a safety rather than punt into the wind from the shadow of their goalposts
Down goes Collaros! Rookie linebacker Antoine Pruneau is flying around the field tonight. #FNF#OTTvsHAM
– On the punt Fraser inexplicably gets called for blocking in the back despite the fact that he was racing down the field to make a tackle
– Hamilton pounds the rock and grinds the clock out to win the game
Final score: 16-6
Burris went 14 of 27 for 160 yards
Johnson had 7 carries for 23 yards
Henry² made 4 catches for 62 yards
Pruneau had 10 tackles and a sack
Maher made 1 of 3 FG attempts and punted 10 times for 394 yards
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Poor play calling, dropped passes, and too many flags led directly to another Redblacks’ loss. On a night when the defence bounced back from a tough outing in BC, the Redblacks offensive drought continued. Henry Burris struggled all night, over- or under-throwing receivers, and on those times when he did hit them right in the numbers, more often than not his passes were dropped. Burris isn’t getting any help from his offensive line or OC, but he’s clearly not getting it done at QB. In his infinite wisdom, Mike Gibson once again chose to ignore the run game, handing the ball off 10 times during the course of the game. Going back to last game that’s 19 rushing attempts against two of the stronger defences in the league. Talk about setting yourself up for failure. Other than Henry², the rest of Ottawa’s receivers struggled to hang onto the ball and make an impact on the game, though Matt Carter did have his best outing since Week 8. Wallace Miles continued to show big play potential yet drop the easy ones. New additions Buckner, Jones and Mitchell were simply non factors mustering 3 catches for 6 yards between themselves. The offensive line struggled to both open up holes for the running game and to give Burris time to set his feet. It also probably didn’t help that Ottawa kept trying to run deep routes instead of the short quick passing attack employed so successfully by the Ticats. Simply put, our offence was offensive. Offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson showed zero creativity all night, calling no play-action, no boot legs, no roll outs and no screens. At this point you’d have to assume he’s gone for sure at the end of the season.
If there was one positive to take from this loss it’s that last week’s blowout loss in BC was an anomaly for our defence, they bounced back in a big way after being thrashed by the Lions. Despite being on the field for the majority of the game the defence limited the Ticats to a single touchdown, two field goals and three rouges; on most nights that’s good enough to win. The defence even chipped in on the scoreboard, picking up a safety to go along with four sacks and an interception. Rookie sensation Antoine Pruneau led the way for an aggressive blitz heavy defence and was constantly around the ball, racking up 10 tackles and a sack. The pressure brought by the Redblacks’ all-Canadian defensive line helped ease the burden on the secondary who limited the Ticats to just 171 yards passing. As to be expected, the defence wore down a bit as the game went on, which is only normal considering how long they were on the field.
It was not a bright night for Ottawa’s special teams, as Maher missed two field goals and the Redblacks were caught napping on a 3rd and 13 when the Ticats faked a punt for a first down. Flags were a major issue and Ottawa’s undisciplined play repeatedly gave the Ticats great field position.
With Ottawa’s playoff hopes dead and the team simply playing for respect, Rick Campbell’s decision to punt the ball down 10 points on 3rd and 2 near midfield with 3 minutes left in the game is simply appalling. Your team is 2-12; Who cares if you lose 23-6 or 16-6? You have to show that you’re playing to win and be aggressive. Instead, by punting, Campbell looks like he’s more concerned with keeping the score respectable. Is that the message he wants to send to players, that it’s okay to lose as long as the game was close? His decision to punt the ball is even more shocking when you consider that the Redblacks had no timeouts left due to a horrible challenge that was doomed to fail.
Next up for the Redblacks is a home date with the Montreal Alouettes, where Ottawa will once again have a chance to play spoiler and throw a monkey wrench in another team’s playoff hopes. R-Nation has sold out seven straight games at TD Place and hopefully that trend continues next Friday night. For some strange reason the game starts at 6:30 so make sure you arrive nice and early.
a person’s name written in a distinctive way as a form of identification
The CFL in conjunction with Reebok recently released a brand new line of 3rd jerseys. This new “Signature Look” line has been mainly met with scorn and criticism even though they’re not all bad. In fact, we here at Defend the R took it upon ourselves to conduct a thorough analysis of each team’s new getups and rank them for you! Factors that went into our decision included visual appeal, style, fan interaction, use of team colours, how the uniforms looked in person vs being photoshopped/enhanced and ties to team history. Without further ado, here are the rankings:
9) The Saskatchewan GREENWHITES
Though we are a fan run, independent blog, we here at Defend the R were privileged to sit in on Saskatchewan’s meeting with Reebok’s creative team. Here’s the *actual* transcript of how it went down.
Reebok: Thanks for coming today everyone, before we begin I’d just like to-
Reebok: Uh, yes, okay, as I was saying-
Reebok: Okay, maybe I’ll just give you the floor
Saskatchewan: Green, green, green
Reebok: Hmmm, alright, we can work with that, how about 50 shades of green?
Reebok: Why don’t we break for lunch?
Saskatchewan: Did you say watermelon!?
Reebok: I’m sensing a theme here….
All kidding aside, these uniforms are a complete mess. If every shade of green was meant to be sewn together on a piece of fabric, Martha Stewart would’ve done it already. The helmets a look like watermelons which is an ode to the fans who wear them in the stands and the “Rider Nation” tag inside the collar is a nice touch. The GREENWHITES also deserve praise for breaking new ground as the first and only team in pro sports history to feature a tramp stamp on their jersey.
8) Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Traditional team colours, who needs’em? Not the Bombers faithful, at least to management’s thinking. Ditching their beloved golden threads, the Bombers instead embraced their inner warrior by sporting the US Military’s Arctic camouflage. There’s not a lot to like if you’re a Bomber fan, as even the helmet looks like the after splatter of a flock of seagulls. It’s as if Reebok mixed up their Toronto and Winnipeg files with this look being the bastard love child. Last time I checked the team without gold and wearing double blue was based in Toronto. Maybe these uniforms will prove to be a stroke of genius late in the season as the team will blend in and disappear into the snowy weather. When even your players struggle to appear enthusiastic, you know you’ve missed the mark.
7) The Toronto Argonauts
should never go with this
What do you get when you cross Alvin the Chipmunk’s trademarked A with the Tennessee Titan’s road uniforms? The Argos’ new signature look of course! Don’t get me wrong, I love me some powdered blue but the layout is simply all wrong. The best part of this look is the helmet, which looks crisp and clean.
6) The Hamilton Tiger Cats
Raise your hand if you thought these garbage bag grey uniforms would be ready in time. The Ticat’s new look features charcoal grey to incorporate the smog from the factory smoke stacks surrounding Tim Horton’s field. The yellow reflector numbers are a nice touch as they will help fans keep track of their favourite players through the haze of still settling construction dust. Much like the Argos, the best part of these looks are the helmets with the faded tiger logo on one side and the player number on the other.
5) The Montreal Alouettes
The Als stuck to their traditional colours by going with grey and silver on their futuristic looking new uniforms. Going back to their roots, the Alouettes chose to honour the first French Canadian Bombing unit in the Air Force, the 425 Squadron, who were nicknamed the ’’Alouettes”. Renown for their toughness and bravery, the 425 Squad was the inspiration when Montreal chose it’s team name in 1946. The only real knock on this look that for whatever reason the team and league have released very few pictures, so it’s really hard to judge just how good the complete product is or what the helmets really look like. One thing that does stand out is that the feather sleeve design looks like snowflakes. The Als decided to only use MTL on the front because it’s a) unilingual so they avoid any problems with Quebec’s strict language police and b) it saves space.
4) The Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos stuck to the KISS (Keep It Stupid Simple) philosophy with their new look and I can appreciate that. The Eskimos kept to what they and their fans know, the green and gold colour scheme and in so doing created something that both traditionalists and younger fans can enjoy. While the enormous double Es might not be the prettiest thing to look at, keep in mind that these are supposed to be signature looks, so who can fault the Eskimos for putting their signature front and centre? Stitching the lyrics to part of their fight song inside the collar is a subtle touch that links these jerseys to the team’s storied history
3) The BC Lions
Jumping the gun on the rest of the league, BC actually released their signature jerseys last year, only they called them their “Premier Look”. The bane of sports announcers league wide, these sharp uniforms boast a gun metal look that is perfectly offset by the safety pylon orange outlining their black numbers. Though some complain the numbers are hard to read who cares, unless you’re playing the Redblacks, Ticats or Stampeders, you’ll be the only team on the field in all black! The Leos didn’t mess with a good thing by leaving the paw decal on the side of the helmet untouched.
2) The Ottawa Redblacks
A wise man once said that once you go plaid you’re always glad and boy was he ever right. From Day One the Redblacks have embraced Ottawa’s lumber history and considering that our mascot is an axe wielding (though kid friendly) lumberjack, it was only a matter of time before plaid worked its way onto our uniforms. It’s called a Canadian tuxedo for a reason and we here in the Nation’s Capital choose to embrace stereotypes. The Redblacks signature look definitely puts the red in Redblacks. The checkered helmet is the crown jewel of this uniform (literally), though it’s a bit strange to see an Ottawa helmet without the white iconic R on it. But to be fair to Reebok, it probably didn’t mesh well with the plaid since everyone knows that the only thing that goes with plaid is more plaid. The one thing holding this look back from top spot is the big white looking (but actually silver) saw blade on the front, it just screams out of place. Not to mention the fact that it has an uncanny resemblance to a Dr. Seuss character.
1) The Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps must really love the Redblacks home uniforms, because their signature look is almost exactly the same. This NRA approved uniform sports a pair of revolvers on the shoulders and gloves; a tribute to the Wild West or a reflection of the city’s gang violence? What vaults this look ahead of all the rest is Calgary’s new helmet. The bitumen black front of the helmet fades away to red and is highlighted by speed lines and a chrome horse logo. Like the GREENWHITES , Ticats, and Esks, the Stamps also have an engraving stitched on their collar, but theirs is in Latin. It doesn’t matter that nobody on the team could tell you what “Quidquid Requiritur,” means (Whatever It Takes), having a dead language on your jersey simply makes you cool.
Will you buy your team’s new jersey? How would you rank’em? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!
– It was Henry Burris’ 190th CFL start and his first against the Ticats since being released in the off-season after leading them to the Grey Cup, other ex-Ticats looking to have a big game included RB Chevon Walker (#29) and WR Matt Carter (#85)
– Brett Maher (#3) kicks off for the Redblacks and 1st round pick Antoine Pruneau (#6) quickly makes the tackle
– The Ticats come out roaring and after a 23 yard pass, QB Dan LeFevour flips a reverse to WR Brandon Banks who tiptoes 53 yards down the sideline for a TD, 7-0 for the McMaster Marauders
– Burris rumbles 20 yards on the Redblacks first play from scrimmage as the Redblacks answer the quick score with a long 14 play drive that features runs by Walker and DJ Harper (#28), and catches by Kierrie Johnson (#10), John Delahunt (#49), Henry² (Marcus Henry #16) and a 10 yard TD catch from a diving Matt Carter (#85)
– Dan “Spider Legs” LeFevour gallops up the middle of the field for an easy 34 yard gain before CJ Gable rushes 47 yards into the end zone, restoring the Ticats 7 point lead
– Justin “Captain” Phillips gets his leg rolled up on during the ensuing kick return and breaks his fibula, all of Ottawa (specifically Arnprior) weeps, even though the man himself doesn’t
– Burris connects with Henry² for a 19 yard TD
– DB Jovon Johnson (#2) proves that the Redblacks defense isn’t entirely allergic to tackling and sacks LeFevour
– Maher fakes the punt and hits FB Patrick Lavoie for a 25 yard completion on 3rd and 10, making it three straight games that the Redblacks have faked a punt
– Despite back to back catches by Walker, the Redblacks drive stalls at the Ticat 3 yard line, so they settle for a 10 yard Maher FG
– LeFevour and Gable continue to run wild through sloppy Redblacks tackles and the Justin Medlock splits the uprights from 12 yards out to tie the game at 17
– Henry² continues his night of dominance and makes another first down catch
– Burris’ streak of 144 passes without an interception ends when his deep pass intended for Dobson Collins (#80) is picked off; it was slightly underthrown but Collins make zero effort to battle back for position on the ball
– Using both his arms and legs, LeFevour moves the Ticats into position for a field goal as the half expires, ending the half with a 20-17 lead courtesy of a 36 yard Medlock FG
– Redblacks receive the ball to start the half but quickly go two and out
– Wallace Miles (#84) makes his first catch as a Redblack, picking up 17 yards and putting the Redblacks in field goal range
– Maher’s 38 yard FG attempt is good
– Dan “Houdini” LeFevour avoids getting sacked in a collapsing pocket and strolls around until he spots a wide open Cary Koch 49 yards down field
– Ticats take the lead off an 18 yard Medlock field goal
– Redblacks go two and out and Maher booms a 50 yard punt to the Hamilton 22
– On a 28 yard LeFevour scramble, Ticats WR Andy Fantuz ear holes Brandyn Thompson (#25), knocking him into early next week
– Eric Fraser (#7) fails to get to LeFevour on the safety blitz, stop me if you’ve heard this one before….
– Jovon Johnson makes an incredible individual effort and rips the ball out of Koch’s hands to pick off LeFevour, unfortunately the Redblacks offense chooses to look a gift horse in the mouth
– Kierrie Johnson is seen on the sidelines icing his forearm
– Henry² x3 for gains of 27, 17 and 14 yards respectively
– Following a Burris sack, Maher boots a 24 yard FG to tie the game up at 23
– Gable cuts Redblacks defense like Big Joe splits watermelons and bursts 82 yards until he is horse collar tackled by DB Jerrell Gavins (#24)
– Dan “The Specialist” LeFevour sneaks the ball in from 1 yard out to put the Ticats up 30-23 with 5:04 left in the game
– The Redblacks drive bogs down at midfield and on 3rd and 2 Head Coach Rick Campbell decides to gamble and go for it with 2:31 remaining; Burris’ pass is tipped at the line and despite getting a hand on it Paris Jackson (#19) fails to make the catch
– LeFevour uses LeLegs to move the Ticats into range for another FG
Final Score: 33-23 for LeTicats
Burris went 27 of 44 for 290 yards (2 TDs & 1 INT)
Walker had 8 carries for 37 yards
Henry² made 10 catches for 137 yards (1 TD)
Jerrell Gavins made 6 tackles
In a game where the Redblacks offense finally came to life, the defense that had been so stout the past few weeks came apart at the seams as Dan LeFevour stole the show with 470 yards of total offense (361 passing yards and 109 rushing yards). The Redblacks offense ran through Henry² on a night when Walker and the run game was shut down. Every catch Henry² made went for a first down but the Redblacks receivers as a group still need to do more as they left several plays out on the field due to drops. The defense was plagued with poor tackling and stubborn coaching decisions, ex: Continuing to blitz the safety even after repeating being burned on screens and dump offs. If the Redblacks are going to win games they simply cannot have their defense giving up 7 plays of 20+ yards per game. Adding insult to injury is the loss of Special Teams Captain Justin Phillips, who will miss significant time as he recovers from a broken fibula; WR Kierrie Johnson also left the game with an injury though the severity as of right now is still unknown. Some will point the finger to Coach Campbell’s decision to go for it on 3rd and 2 with two minutes remaining but personally I like the decision and agree with his logic.
Losing to an Eastern opponent stings, especially one without that was previously winless and without their starting QB but the Redblacks don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves with the Fake Riders coming to town next week. Maybe a little bit of love from R-Nation and a change of uniform is all they need to get back on track, after all, we’ve undefeated when we wear black.