Archive for the CFL Category

I still say it. But with more of a whisper.

Posted in CFL, Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 24, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

I feel compelled to write.

It’s likely I should be choosing the growing pile of paid assignments I have to do today but I don’t feel very local-country-western-star-headlines-Oktoberfest or junior-varsity-football-team-looks-to-be-competitive-this-season at this moment so I’m going to post.

I’m told summer is over – even though it’s warmer outside right now than I remember any day this whole year – and I’m noticing other bloggers throwing up posts nearly everyday, so I figure I better join the brigade or be forgotten forever.

That, and someone said I was illiterate. Of course, he also said I was a punk, who needed to learn some manners and admit when I’m wrong, but if I wrote every time I was offered that advice, I’d have no time to be a punk with no manners who always has to be right.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting couple of months for the sporting world since I last wrote a regular blog and there is so much I could potentially talk about.

Off the bat I probably owe some sort of explanation for my last blog, which all but guaranteed something like 16-2 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and an automatic birth in the Grey Cup. I’m not completely backing off my early predictions (I still think they are better than Calgary, DK) but I definitely need to acknowledge the aspects of the game I clearly never took into account.

First of all, it’s no stretch to admit the Riders have the worst special teams one could possibly assemble. The return game is worse than embarrassing and the coverage team is so terrible, the coaching staff will apparently attempt a freakin’ punt to win a game before risking what might happen if Luca Congi misses from 35 yards out.

Which brings me to the team’s biggest problem. Even before the latest gaff, my pop and I had this coaching staff pegged as a serious hindrance. With nothing really against Ken Miller, who has done nothing but win and can unify a room like I’ve never seen, his support crew doesn’t look so up to the challenge and – worst of all –they seem to be able to sway the boss toward the wrong side of the sanity line.

Special teams coordinator Jim Daley was obviously in Miller’s ear about trying the game-winning punt after the head coach had originally sent out the field goal unit.

Miller, as respectable and team oriented as he is, took responsibility for what was his call took to make. But if you ask me, when the camera showed his first reaction to the shanked punt, his facial expression was teeming with why-the-crap-did-I-just-let-that-go-down and holy-smokes-are-folks-gonna-be-pissed.

He says he’d make that call again in a heartbeat. I bet he’s lying.

But I’m not falling off the bandwagon, I still say they can catch Calgary and finish first. They have the Stamps once more at home and Calgary still has two dates with Montreal, while the Riders’ most difficult matchups are supposedly behind them.

This all goes straight to hell, of course, if they don’t learn to win on the road pretty quick, opportunities of which are upcoming in back-to-back away games in Hamilton and Toronto. If the team can’t figure out how to flex its talent against a couple of .500-ish teams, who sport mediocre-to-awful offences, then all bets are off.

But talent-wise, the Riders are just too potent a team to keep losing games they ought to win. As silly as it sounds since they’re already at four losses, I think they still have a shot to win 13 games.

I also think the Montreal Canadiéns are an obvious playoff team so I wouldn’t read much into what I have to say…

A post on that to come…

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Yeah, I said it.

Posted in CFL, Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 15, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

In my 33 years alive on this planet I have never one time said what I’m about to say so to all you reading this, who are about to dismiss the following due to my loyal following of the team in question, I say relax, it doesn’t work like that here.

And trust me, in many ways, I’ll be just as appalled at this statement as you will be. Sure I’ve desired these words — no self-respecting green-bleeding Canadian would say otherwise — but I’ve never actually said them.

That is until now.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are without a doubt the best team in the CFL and there’s only one opponent in the whole bunch that even comes close.

I’ll admit I should have publicly announced these feelings on this blog before the season began — because rest assured I’ve had them since Nov. 29 of last year — but I was pretty busy ignoring my website for no particular good reason whatsoever and didn’t get around to it. But the boldness of this claim only loses a little merit after a 2-0 start when 16 games remain.

Because I’m not saying the Riders are going to have a good season and finish in first place in the West for the second-straight year. Who with half a brain isn’t saying that right now?

Let’s face it the Riders lost three players of huge significance — John Chick, Stevie Baggs and Rey Williams — and a fourth if you count the veteran leadership of Eddie Davis. But every team loses players to the NFL every season unless they totally suck. And the Riders lost not one player off an up-and-coming, potent offence and added more-than formidable replacements on defence in Barrin Simpson and Brent Hawkins.

So I’m not trying to join the masses by saying, ‘Well gee guys, the Riders sure have a swell squad this season.’

What I’m saying is by the end of this campaign — barring all kinds of injuries, which seem to have plagued this team throughout my life in ways that could only be laughed at, i.e. seven GD broken legs on starters in one GD year — the Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to be so far ahead of the rest of the West and any team in the East not rhyming with Flontreal that it’s going to be laughable.

Watching any other team so far this season has been nothing more than a showcase of who wants to lose more. The Riders, on the other hand, look like a well-oiled machine and when they get the ball, it just feels like they will score.

In about two plays and 90 yards I might add.

Let’s just look at the reality of this right now. The CFL is an offensive game. Period.

An offence is broken up into four categories essentially — quarterback, receivers, running backs and linemen — and the Green Machine is at or near the best in every category.

QB? So many will still say Darian Durant is fourth or fifth in the league right now but I think you’re kidding yourself if you don’t have him in your top-two already. Because this kid has NEVER ONCE shown a sign of cracking when it counts and he’s getting ridiculously smarter with every down.

Give him the best receiving corps in the league — sorry Ricky Ray, ya drunk, but it’s true — and easily the best O-line in the CFL with or without Wayne Smith — Bryan Chiu’s retirement from the Alouettes solidified it — and Durant will put up disgusting numbers against every team all year.

A running back tandem of Wes Cates and Hugh Charles might not be the absolute best duo possible but they’re both pretty flippin’ good and will never be tired EVER because they are only needed for a combined 15-20 touches a game.

Honestly, when you look at the starting 13, crap I mean 12 (sorry, standard Saskatchewanite error) it actually makes head coach Ken Miller’s goal of scoring 60 points in 60 minutes seem just a tad less senile. I’m willing to take any bet out there — with the stakes being an embarrassing act recorded and posted on this site — that the Riders amass the most total yards and most points in the league this season.

And it won’t be close.

Now, I’ll admit the defence’s 69 points against and sixth-ranked pass protection isn’t exactly something to brag about but most of that came against the aforementioned “team that comes even close” and most of THAT came in the first half of the first game of the year.

In week 2 Hawkins took the defensive player of the week honours in simply a precursor of a huge season to come. Simpson might not be Williams but he’s always been the best linebacker on whatever team he’s on so I don’t see that stopping now.

No one will run well against this front seven and I believe the defensive backs can only get better as the season progresses and even if they don’t they are the only weakness on the entire team.

With the best offence — by a long shot — and an up-and-coming defence full of unpredictable and confusing schemes I see just one game left on the entire schedule that I believe the Riders might enter as underdogs and that’s Aug. 6 in Montreal.

And that game will simply be a preview for the Grey Cup rematch every Rider fan wants (and needs).

If I were completely speaking as a fan in all this I would be making the cockiest statement of my sports-following life. And believe me, with every letter I type I’m becoming more and more sure this whole post will just turn out to be a death sentence for the team.

But I honestly don’t think I’m the only one out there thinking this right now and pretty sure that includes some non-Rider Priders as well. Because for once in my life they just might be THAT good.

They’re young, they’re fast, they’re deep, they’re extremely talented, and if you can even freakin’ believe it, they’re wearing green and white.

The best sports day of the year!!

Posted in Indianapolis Colts, Montreal Canadiens, NBA, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Super Bowl, Toronto Raptors on February 7, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

The biggest Sunday of the year – sorry Easter – has finally arrived!

Whether it be for pigskin passion, possible partial nudity in the halftime show or the 30-litre vat of laxative on the stove most of us call chilli, Super Bowl Sunday provides something to look forward to for everyone.

I could also mention the lineup of best – and most expensive – commercials of the year but unless you’ve pirated some American satellite, you’re watching two wrinkly old dudes in a black and white TD Bank spot 27 times throughout the game, just like me.

Nevertheless, most of us have this day set aside for one reason or another and there is so much more to the day than simply the game. That being said, my day is 100 per cent about the game.

Actually, it’s about three games.

As we speak I’m enjoying the Raptors game, which as I say it I realize sounds strange. But this team is really fun to watch finally and they are full of talent, which since December has even been evident in most games.

As this game finishes up, the Habs will start the second half of their annual Super Bowl weekend tradition, which is to play matinees on both Saturday and Sunday. After a win yesterday, where the Canadiens completely outplayed Sydney and the Cup champs, the situation looks good for them today as they take on Boston, who have now lost something like 73 in a row.

A home game against a team they should beat? This can’t be good…

But once the hockey game is over, my focus will be completely on football. If you’re not excited for this game, you’re not a sports fan.

The two clear best teams throughout the regular season, with the year’s two best quarterbacks, meet in one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in a long time. This will be great, no matter who prevails.

However, most everyone in North America has made an actual prediction on the outcome and it’s time I made my pick as well.

Without surprising anyone whose read a word of this blog lately, I’m taking the Colts. But I’ll be hoarse by the end of this game from expressing my desire to be wrong.

Since everyone else is giving a score, I’ll say 34-27, but picking scores are always a complete shot in the dark.

But I choose Indianapolis because I just believe Peyton Manning – as much as he bores the crap out me between plays – is in a dimension far superior to the rest of the league. The Colts are crazy good every season and they have been this way for the better part of a decade.

There has been no shortage of great players to come through that organization but only one has been there every year. This year is the best example, of course, as he as taken two nobody-receivers (Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie) and not only won 16 games with them so far but has turned them both into superstars along the way.

As good as the Saints have been on both sides of the ball all season, I just can’t bring myself to bet against Manning. However, speaking as a fan of sentiment, how can anyone outside Indiana not cheer for New Orleans?

Forget Katrina, which is absolutely a great reason to want to see the Saints go marching down Bourbon Street with Vince Lombardi’s legacy in hand. Had the hurricane never reached the south shores of Louisiana, one would still be inclined to root for the people of New Orleans.

This team has lost so much they make the pre-’07 Saskatchewan Roughriders look like the New York Yankees. (I realize I just jumped sports altogether but when the best NFL team has only six titles, it doesn’t make as much impact)

It took the Saints 21 seasons just to finish above .500 and, after establishing in 1966, they didn’t win a playoff game until the new millennium. Needless to say, this is their first Super Bowl appearance.

The people of New Orleans have certainly waited long enough and they have endured so much as a community, it would just be a special sight to see them celebrate.

Besides, I heard folks down there know how to throw a party.

Just a quickie…

Posted in Arizona Cardinals, Montreal Canadiens, New Orleans Saints, NFL, NHL, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Blue Bombers on January 16, 2010 by Scott Schmidt

I must apologize for the 24-hour hiatus but I had to finally cap off two weeks of ridiculous between Nissan and myself.

All that matters is at the beginning of this mess I was facing $3,500 in repairs. After non-stop “conversations” where I spoke and they ignored me, I some how got my points across – some say I talk a little louder than others – and drove my car away for $216 this morning.

Gee it’s nice to know nobody was trying to rip me off.

Anyway, I’m sitting in Medicine Hat with some buddies watching NFL playoffs and we are just getting into some Hockey Night in Canada. It’s such a great show when the Leafs aren’t playing.

But can we get rid of the Nickelback opener? Canada’s Bon Jovi isn’t fooling anyone when they play what they think is hard rock. Face it boys, tough guys and salon-perfect hair don’t mix.

Anyway, looks like two teams playing not to lose tonight because the first six minutes have produced squat. The Habs are a funny group; they celebrate victories like they couldn’t be more excited to be playing this game but they always start games like they have some place they’d rather be.

We’re also checking in on the fourth quarter of the New Orleans Saints/Winnipeg Blue, er, Arizona Cardinals game. The Cards’ Kurt Warner took a hit in the first half and didn’t land until the third quarter.

While he was airborne, Reggie Bush racked up more than 200 all-purpose yards and a couple of majors, one of which was the fourth-longest punt return in playoff history. It’s not over and the ‘Cards are only down five scores but I’m beginning to believe there will be a new NFC champ.

Going to watch the games now. I’ll check back later with some reaction to the evening.

Fear of the Green should be strong

Posted in BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, CFL, Edmonton Eskimos, Lethbridge College Endeavour Column, Montreal Alouettes, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers on November 5, 2008 by Scott Schmidt

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Nov. 5, 2008

Since we’re in Western Canada, I’ll assume there are a few people who actually still care that the CFL playoff s have arrived and provide you with how the league might — and probably should — turn out.

While six teams remain, let’s face reality, only four have a shot at winning the Grey Cup and none of them are Winnipeg or Edmonton. Incidentally, when Winnipeg hosts Edmonton in the Eastern semifinal, does anyone wonder why the league gets laughed at?

Anyway, Montreal gets the nod as a possibility only because the big game is at Olympic Stadium and they get to play whichever of the aforementioned nobodies that survives the not-so-East semifinal.

However, regardless of the site of the Cup, the likely champ will come from the West. Th e logical favourite seems to be the Calgary Stampeders and their ridiculous arsenal of offensive weapons.

Considering they only have to win one home game to get to Montreal, feel free to bet on Henry Burris sinking those humongous Crest-white teeth into Lord Grey’s trophy when it’s all over. Their defence is solid enough and their receivers are, without question, the best in the nation.

The team, the coaching staff , and the fans of the red and white should be extremely confident that a sixth championship is coming home. The only problem is, not one of those people is going to sleep well as long as a certain team from a certain wheat-filled province still has a heartbeat.

They’ll all tell you they don’t care who wins the West semifinal, but the entire Stampeder organization will be praying for B.C. on Saturday because they do not want to play the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Whether they admit it publicly or not, the Green Machine scares the living daylights out of the Stamps.

Most people will say the defending champion Riders had no business winning more than half of the 12 games they came out on top in. But the truth is, had certain events not unfolded in Riderville this season, they would most likely be enjoying the first-round bye.

After a storybook championship run last season, the Riders shipped out three major components — including league MVP Kerry Joseph — and were expected by the experts to be, well, awful.

They weren’t.

Six games into the campaign, there they were, undefeated and looking fierce. Three of those wins even came after the worst bout of injuries I have ever seen, in any sport, began to hit the Riders like a shock- and-awe campaign.

What can only be described as an all-star team of starting players began to drop like flies. Flies with broken fibulas, that is.

You couldn’t cause as many broken legs to a team as the Riders suffered this year if you had a basket of voodoo dolls and a sledgehammer. If it wasn’t a bone snapped in half, it was a torn Achilles.

Back ups to player’s back ups were getting injured. To give you an idea of how silly it got, an astounding 18 different receivers caught passes for the Riders this year. Eventually the injuries caught up with the team and they struggled out a record of 3-6 over their next nine games.

Somewhere in that stretch, the mass of media and fan experts that exist out there seemed to ignore the injury problem as a viable cause to the losing skid. It makes little sense because there are several reasons to fear a healthy Green.

Never mind the club won no less than seven times through fourth quarter comebacks, some of which were by epic pro- portions. Never mind Wes Cates almost won the rushing title despite missing four games. And never mind the offence managed 130 points in their last three wins, even though the quarterbacking tandem combined for 10 interceptions in the same span.

Th e Saskatchewan Roughriders are worth the fear for one simple reason: When slot-back Andy Fantuz is in uniform this season, they are 9-0.

Of course this is all based on the theory the B.C. Lions fall to the green and white first. Th e Lions probably sealed their own fate by forgetting to go to their final game in Calgary, allowing the Stamps third-string quarterback to run all over them.

However, any team sporting Cameron Wake’s 23 sacks brings some terrifying characteristics of their own.