Now that is more like it. What a game. I'm not going to go crazy about it since it was only a pre-season contest, but there are a lot of positives to be taken from this week's game at Ivor Wynne against Winnipeg. The score is virtually meaningless, but the play most definitely is not. So let's get it started.
Kevin Glenn, Dave Stala, Arland Bruce, DeAndra' Cobb, Marquay McDaniel... Heck, pretty much the entire starting offense. The team clicked from the opening whistle until they were replaced by the backups. They started a tad slowly, stalling on the opening drive (and a weird play that got them the ball back; more on that later), but after that it was smooth sailing. Glenn was hitting everyone; the guys were making catch after catch; Cobb proved that last season was no fluke, by reading the holes exceptionally well and hitting them hard! It was just an overall impressive effort by the starters this afternoon.
The defense was stout. They gave up a couple of big plays, but on the whole, this unit from front to back looks scary good. The D-line got tremendous pressure all day, even if the sack totals don't reflect it. An all 'round excellent performance by the Tiger-Cat defense.
Demetris Summers. Once again this guy came up big. Not only in the return game (where he had a nice return) but also in the running game. Any thought of competition with Brian Calhoun is out the window. Summers should be the team's primary backup when the rosters are finalized.
The debate on who should be our Kick Returner is over. Martin Manson was spectacular in the return game. This kid came out today to win the job, and I will be absolutely stunned if he isn't the Kick Returner when the season opens on July 2nd.
Glenn MacKay worked his butt off today. The diving catch he made on a bad Quinton Porter pass was one of the nicest I've ever seen. He came out of nowhere to snag the pass. He caught almost everything thrown his way. I know the competition at WR is fierce, but the Cats have to find a spot for this kid somewhere. He played too hard today not to deserve the right to be on the final roster.
The crowd might have been the most impressive part of today's contest. An announced crowd of almost 20,000 for a pre-season game! It seems as if people have gotten on board with this club, and that can only be a good thing. Here's hoping the crowds continue to swell and we have a near-capacity house for games other than Labour Day. I tip my hat to the fans for showing up in big numbers for a game that means nothing. Way to go, Tigertown!
Once again it's the backup QBs. Last week Porter looked good; this week, not so much. He was great in the running game, but his passes seemed erratic. He had a nice TD pass, but on the whole I did not see much from him today.
I can say the exact same for Adam Tafralis. He once again failed to impress me. He was better than last week, and he was also better than Porter, but I still don't understand why people are so enamoured with him. He continues to try to make passes that shouldn't be made. He once again tried to force one into tight coverage; luckily it was only incomplete this week. He also had a couple of under-thrown balls. Right now I am not entirely comfortable with the backup QBs. At least Jason Boltus didn't get a chance to throw up another stinker.
As much as I talked him up when he was signed, I now have to admit I was wrong about Brian Calhoun. He hasn't looked sharp in either game, and with the emergence of Demetris Summers, Calhoun could be in tough for a roster spot.
Another rookie who had a less-than-stellar performance was Punter Justin Palardy. His first punt was atrocious, but luckily it was so bad he was able to recover it for a Tiger-Cat first down. While an admittedly exciting play, it's still not the stuff you want to see out of your Punter.
Marquay McDaniel showed a nice case of what looked like gator arms on what should have been a first-quarter TD. He redeemed himself nicely later in the game with a beautiful one-handed catch and a TD catch, but I'm hoping that play doesn't happen when the regular season starts. My buddy Richard seemed to think that since it was a pre-season game, McDaniel didn't go all out for it. I hope his assessment is correct.
It's hard to take too much away from the game this afternoon. The Bombers did play some of their starters, but three of their starting Defensive Linemen did not dress, so the Tiger-Cat offense may not be as strong as they looked today.
That said, this is still a team that I am very excited about. I didn't get too low after the loss to Toronto last week, and I won't get too high about the win this week. What is important is seeing how the team is coming together. The continuity from last season to this season really shows. The first-quarter pass from Glenn to Stala (where Glenn threw it a good two seconds before Stala even turned around) shows how in-sync these guys are.
Even if this game meant nothing in the standings, it's always nice to get a win, especially in front of the home crowd.
One Last Thing
After being called a "moron" last week for even suggesting that replay challenges were allowed in the pre-season, Head Coach Marcel Bellefeuille once again asked for a challenge on a second-quarter call. Unfortunately, the referee's mic was not working, but it seemed from the motions the ref was making that the challenge wasn't granted because the catch was deemed a push-out, which I assume is unchallengeable, not because replay challenges are not allowed in the pre-season. I would also like to add that if challenges aren't allowed in the pre-season, (a) why would the coaches carry the challenge flags, and (b) why would Coach Bellefeuille attempt a challenge a week after being "told" they weren't allowed? I know this is hardly concrete proof, but it's the best I can do with the evidence I have.
Player of the Game (Offense): Glenn MacKay
Player of the Game (Defense): Ike Brown