Tuesday, 2 October 2012

10 Things I Learned... In Week 14

As we head down the stretch drive, it is funny to think how little we actually know at this point. Sure, it's a given that Montreal, Toronto, BC and Calgary are heading to the playoffs (Saskatchewan too, probably), but week to week, I couldn't tell you who the favourite is. For most of the season it has been BC. It probably still is BC, but I'm not betting the house on them.

(1) Edmonton's winless September
Edmonton went winless in September for the first time in franchise history. It is the second consecutive month where a team has gone winless – Hamilton lost their three games in August – and interestingly enough it is between the two teams battling for the final playoff spot. There are a ton of reasons Edmonton has lost five straight, mostly their terrible offense and their inept quarterback play, and things don't look to be getting any better.

(2) Should that be it for Buck?
Speaking of not getting better, the last two weeks perfectly encapsulated Buck Pierce's CFL career. Amazing one week, as he was against the Tiger-Cats, and injured the next, as he was on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Brandon Isaac. This has been Pierce's story for his entire career and seeing him looking out of it on the sideline told me that it is time for one of the toughest quarterbacks I have ever seen play to call it quits. I know it is up to him and I know that people have been saying for years that Pierce should retire, but this hit should probably be last one that Pierce takes.

(3) Jarious Jackson impresses
I was skeptical that Jarious Jackson would be able to lead the Argos to much while Ricky Ray misses time with a knee injury. But Jackson looked good against the Bombers and perhaps the Argos aren't in as bad a place as I thought they were. Jackson's history is to get people's hopes up and then dash them, so I want to see him sustain the level of success he had against Winnipeg before I start thinking the Argos can win consistently without Ray. Not knowing how long Ray will miss, Jackson is the man for the foreseeable future and if he plays like he did against Winnipeg more often than not, the Argos will be just fine.

(4) Giguère's one-handed catch
The guy has taken a lot of flak, especially from fans, for a lacklustre first season, but Sam Giguère showed why everyone was so high on him to begin with. The Sherbrooke product made an amazing one-handed grab on one of the few errant passes that Henry Burris had against the Als. Giguère has not been the total package that many, myself included, thought he would be, but I have seen better and better play out of him as the season has gone on. This season might not have been his breakout one, but next season sure might.

(5) The Stamps might be the favourites
As everyone pencils in their Grey Cup favourites, most have BC and Montreal, I'd like to make a case for the Calgary Stampeders following their 39-15 beatdown of the Eskimos. Kevin Glenn is playing perhaps his most consistent football of his career, Jon Cornish is running with a purpose, Nik Lewis and the rest of the Calgary receivers are catching everything thrown their way, and the defense is really clamping down. The Stamps sit a game out of first and have two games remaining with the Lions. Those two contests will likely decide where the West Final is played, but regardless of where, I kind of like Calgary to get to the Grey Cup.

(6) Cornish's continued brilliance
One of the main reasons I think the Stamps can win anywhere is the portability of their offense and that starts with Jon Cornish. Cornish got off to a slow start this season and unsurprisingly so did the Stamps. Once Cornish got rolling, the Stamps did as well. Calgary goes as Cornish goes, and Cornish has gone more often than he has not. He is the first back to surpass 1,000 yards this season and is on pace for over 1,500 yards on the season. That number would break the all-time rushing yards mark by a Canadian set back in 1956 by Normie Kwong. Being mentioned in the same breath as Normie Kwong should tell you just how great Cornish's 2012 season has been.

(7) 3,000 is something to celebrate this season
I have made it known that I am not a fan of Chad Owens nor am I particularly impressed with his back-to-back 3,000 total yards seasons in 2010 and 2011. But he did it once again in 2012 and this time it is something that should be celebrated. Unlike in past years when Owens' numbers came thanks to a terrible Toronto team receiving a lot of kicks, this year 50 per cent of his yards will not come from kickoffs. He already has over 1,000 yards receiving (the first time he has hit four digits in his career) and his numbers will likely be much more equitable this season than in the previous two. This year Owens will earn his total yards as opposed to lucking into them because he played for a bad team.

(8) Dressler torches the Lions
One of the interesting stats I learned during this week's games was that Weston Dressler had never scored a touchdown against the BC Lions in his career. About five minutes after that was brought up, Dressler caught a touchdown pass. Then he caught another one and added 160 receiving yards. Dressler stepped up big time to help the Riders top the Lions for a second time this season.

(9) Peguese and the low hit on Calvillo
Everyone saw the low hit Brandon Peguese put on Anthony Calvillo late in Hamilton's 41-28 win over the Alouettes on Friday night. It was flagged for 15 yards and deservedly so. It was a low hit, though in my opinion, there was no malicious intent behind it. Something the fans watching at home did not see was Peguese going over to Calvillo after the game and having a brief chat with him. That cements it to me that Peguese did not attempt to injure Calvillo and that both men saw it as just an unfortunate incident.

(10) Players of the Week
Two of these are no brainers, and one of those no brainers is Henry Burris as offensive player of the week. He threw more touchdowns, five, than incompletions, four. This is the second time Burris has thrown for more touchdowns than incompletions against the Als (he also won player of the week for that performance).

Defensive player of the week was much tougher. You had Hamilton's Brandon Peguese who was a force against the Als, though his stats weren't great; there was Adam Bighill and his 13 tackles against the Riders; and who can ignore what the Argos did in creating seven turnovers against the Bombers. It is that Argo game where Marcus Ball returned an interception for a touchdown and because of that he is my defensive player of the week.

The second no brainer is for Canadian of the week and that was Calgary's Jon Cornish. He ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Edmonton. There were some other good Canadian performances, Andy Fantuz had 98 yards and two touchdowns, but none topped Cornish's night against the Eskimos.

Special teams player of the week wasn't easy to pick either. Trent Guy had a nice night, and Onrea Jones had a big return, but other there wasn't much outstanding play from any special teamer this week. So with that, I will kind of give this to a guy that has gone mostly unrecognized so far this year and that is Luca Congi. Congi has had a superb season so far in 2012, missing just two field goals all season. He was two for two against the Als and extended his streak of consecutive field goals made to 21. Very little has been said about Congi this year and he is putting together a kicking season for the ages. Since no one really stood out this past week, my special teams player of the week is Luca Congi.

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