Canadian Football League: Week 8 talking points

Andrew Kitchener Roar Guru

By , Andrew Kitchener is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    We're past halfway through the CFL season.

    I’m back after a two week vacation, and as much as things have changed in the Canadian Football League in the two weeks since I last checked in with my talking points, some things remain the same.

    Hamilton still haven’t won.

    Two weeks ago, the TiCats were belted 60-1 by Calgary, and things looked bleak. In the next two weeks, they lost a close contest against Edmonton that they could easily have one, and suffered a last-quarter meltdown on Sunday at home against Winnipeg, giving up 17 unanswered to the Blue Bombers, losing 39-12.

    Hamilton’s a very hard team to work out. Some days, the TiCats don’t seem too far away from a win, then you see them throw the toys out of the cot like against Calgary all game long, and late against Winnipeg. There’s a chance they win four or five games this year, and also a chance that they go winless all season, too. And in the weak east, four or five wins might be enough to snatch a playoff spot in the East.

    It’s interesting that for the first time this week, head coach Kent Austin noted that the play of his quarterback needed to be better. That’s the first explicit mention of Zach Collaros’ disappointing season, and you wonder if the canny Austin is deliberately trying to light a fire under Collaros’ butt in the hope that the team’s star quarterback returning to form will drag the rest of the team back towards a semblance of form, too.

    Shania Twain is headlining the 2017 Grey Cup
    The Canadian star, who remains the highest-selling female country artist of all time, will play the halftime show of the 105th Grey Cup game in Ottawa. With a new album coming out prior, and the fact that Twain – love her pop-country brand or not – is a legitimate superstar and a Canadian icon, it’s a good choice in the year Canada celebrates it’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday.

    Like every other decision in the Canadian Football League these days, there were people who loved the choice and people who absolutely hated it. Me? I think it’s a safe choice, and short of someone like Bryan Adams or Tom Cochrane, you probably couldn’t find a more internationally-recognisably Canadian act.

    Edmonton keep finding ways to win
    The Eskimos have a casualty ward the likes of which we haven’t seen in the Canadian Football League in some time. I mean, guys of note are going down each week, and if it wasn’t for the steady influence of Mike Reilly at quarterback, the Esks might be in a similar position to Hamilton. Yet, they manage to keep winning, topping Ottawa 27-20 this week, and there’s no telling when their charmed run is going to end.

    The BC Lions were abysmal on Sunday night
    A week ago, the Lions carved Saskatchewan at will, coming away with a 30-15 win at home, a score line that majorly flattered the Rough Riders.

    Fast forward a week, and it was Chris Jones’ men in green who came out and cut through the Lions like a knife through hot butter. The Riders had notched thirty-six points before BC troubled the scorers, and returning quarterback Jonathan Jennings threw four interceptions, three of which were into the arms of defensive back Ed Gainey (one all the way to the house for a pick-six touchdown), to the rabid delight of the pro-Saskatchewan crowd inside New Mosaic Stadium.

    Backup-turned-starter-turned-backup-again Travis Lulay wasn’t much better. Just not a good night for anyone in BC orange, the franchise snapping an incredible seven-game win streak against the Rough Riders.

    Toronto struggled without Ricky Ray
    The importance of Toronto’s veteran pivot was on show in a major way in Montreal on Friday night where the Argos just couldn’t get anything going in a disappointing 21-9 loss to the Alouettes, whose defence held the Argos offence, normally high-flying, to a mediocre 142 yards.

    Neither of the two quarterbacks employed by head coach Marc Trestman – Cody Fajardo or Jeff Matthews – could guide Toronto into the end zone for a major score. Argo fans will doubtless be hoping that Ray returns next week when Montreal come to town for the second half of a home-and-home fixture.

    The League’s show of diversity was well-timed and poignant
    With all that’s taking place south of the border in the United States, it was a wonderful idea by Commissioner Randy Ambrosie to move forward a CFL initiative to honour and celebrate the wonderful diversity and inclusiveness of the League – and of Canada as a whole, for that matter. T-shirts worn by coaches and staff on the sidelines Sunday night paid tribute to the multicultural flavour of Canada’s unique football league – names like Kwong, Singh, Khan and Buono – and the timing could not have been better.

    It was great to hear Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor talk about the civil unrest in Virginia and to hear them discuss with obvious pride how the league has players from every continent on earth other than Alaska. Props to Chris Cuthbert, as good a play-by-play commentator as there is anywhere in the world, give a shout-out to Australia, represented in the CFL by Saskatchewan’s punter Josh Bartel.

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