Quotes of the Week
“Major foul … rough play … number 34 Montreal … disqualification … 25-yard penalty.”
—Referee Kim Murphy during the Montreal-Calgary game Saturday.
There are many odd pronouncements from the refs during CFL games, at least compared to the Steratores and Hochulis of the NFL world. That was about the strangest one of the weekend. Montreal linebacker Kyries Hebert absolutely bludgeoned Stampeders running back Jon Cornish with a classic ’70s forearm shiver to the helmet, knocking Cornish out momentarily.
“The 20-second play clock totally changes the games. That’s the biggest adjustment any receiver has to make up here. The play clock, it never, ever stops.”
—Wide receiver Maurice Price of the Calgary Stampeders, by way of Charleston Southern, on how the 20-second play clock and the pre-snap running the receivers do makes the Canadian game different from the American one.
“Every NFL team should be after Cris Carter’s son. [Montreal wide receiver] Duron Carter is a phenomenal athlete. He’s got every measurable. He’s fast, 6-foot-4, can be a punt returner in the NFL with his size, can run with the ball, has got tremendous body control. When he got on the field last year for us he was just phenomenal. And hopefully he stays healthy this year. He’ll be a highly, highly sought after, Cam Wake kind of guy. This is Duron’s second year, and another year is going to be great for him. But this guy can go in and be a one or two guy [first or second receiver]. He is phenomenal. He can’t finish in the CFL season and then go to NFL in 2014, but teams could sign him to a futures deal for 2015.’’
—Montreal GM Jim Popp, on his young and tall receiver, Duron Carter.
The Award Section
Offensive Player of the Week
Drew Willy, QB, Winnipeg. Willy is 27 years old, from Randolph, N.J. Since starting for the University at Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference, Willy is on his seventh team—four in the NFL, one in the United Football League (Las Vegas), and Saskatchewan and Winnipeg up north. In his first start for the Bombers Thursday night, he completed 19 of 27 passes for 308 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. Winnipeg won 45-21.
Defensive Players of the Week
Rick Foley, DE, Saskatchewan. Hamilton’s offensive line and quarterback, Zach Collaros, were badly outmatched by the Roughrider defensive front, led by Foley. He had six tackles and three sacks as the defense buzzed around Collaros all day.
Almondo Sewell, DT, Edmonton. Sewell, born in Jamaica and schooled at the University of Akron (Canada likes the MAC), had two sacks and a stout presence in the second half of the Eskimos’ 27-20 win at British Columbia. Edmonton held the Lions to three second-half points, thanks to a good run defense and pressure from the line.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Josh Bartel, P/K, Saskatchewan. You had to be in Mosaic Stadium on Sunday to feel the wind, and to feel how hard it would be to be remotely competent punting the football. Bartel angled a low dart through a 28-mph wind that skittered out of bounds at the Hamilton three-yard line, probably the single most impressive play I saw in two games. Bartel’s a former Australian Rules Football player from Wodonga, Australia. You know Bartel. He’s a former Murray Bushranger.
Sean Whyte, P/K, Montreal. The second-most accurate kicker in CFL history (.820 in field goals) missed an early field goal at Calgary but made up for it with his punting day. He had 11 punts for an average of 52.1 yards—including a 93-yard monster with the wind.
Coach of the Week
Richie Hall, defensive coordinator, Saskatchewan. On a day fit for neither man nor scuba diver in Regina, Hall continued to put a dominant defense on the field. The Roughriders, under Hall, were the top defense in the CFL last year and rode that performance to a Grey Cup title. In Sunday’s Grey Cup rematch, the Roughriders pulverized the Tiger-Cats through the first two quarters, leading 24-1 at the half (don’t you love that score—24-1?). For the day, Hall’s swarming defense, blitzing different players, had 10 sacks and allowed the defending Eastern Conference champs just 201 yards in a 31-10 win.
Goat of the Week
Troy Smith, QB, Montreal. The former Heisman Trophy winner—and occasional San Francisco and Baltimore quarterback—has the unenviable job of succeeding the most productive quarterback in CFL history, Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo. His debut did not go well. Smith went 18 of 41 for 154 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. He was consistently high or wide on a windy day in Alberta. Considering his strong receiving corps, he won’t last long with many more performances like that one.
Stat of the Week
With the retirement of Anthony Calvillo, the CFL has lost its most productive quarterback ever. Comparing Calvillo’s passing line to the NFL’s yardage leader, Brett Favre, who played 27 fewer games:
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Michael Sam is on the Montreal Alouettes’ negotiating list, and GM Jim Popp wants him if he doesn’t stick in St. Louis. Popp told our Jenny Vrentas: “He has the skill set to rush the passer and he is not your prototypically sized guy rushing the passer in the NFL. He would be a great fit for the CFL if it doesn’t work [in St. Louis].”
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
It’s been a long time since I had a travel debacle as big as this weekend’s. Don Banks and I had a boys’ day out at Wrigley Field on Friday, a lovely afternoon in the bleachers. I was set to be on an 8:05 p.m. flight from Chicago to Calgary, and it got canceled. United told me that to make it to Calgary in time for the 1 p.m. MT start of the Saturday game, I’d have to fly to San Francisco and then get the first flight out from there in the morning. Which meant not sleeping, except on the plane or at SFO. So I did it. Then the flight from San Francisco to Calgary was delayed an hour and a half Saturday, and I ended up getting to the game in the second quarter.
But I did get to stay in a lovely, classic hotel in Regina: the Hotel Saskatchewan. Next time you’re out on the prairie, I recommend it highly.
How about this travel note from Jenny Vrentas, leaving Manitoba Friday morning after covering Winnipeg’s opener?
Customs agent: “Who do you work for?”
Vrentas: “The MMQB … Sports Illustrated.”
Customs agent: “What were you reporting on in Winnipeg?”
Vrentas: “The Blue Bombers!”
Customs agent: (incredulous) “For Sports Illustrated?”
Vrentas: “The MMQB. It was Canada Week, sir.”
She was allowed to leave the country.
Tweets of the Week
— Drew Kuespert (@DrewKuespert) June 30, 2014
I really liked the rouge. It’s a wild-card way to score a point, often when you least expect it.
CALGARY–In other news, Chad Johnson kissed me on the cheek today.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) June 29, 2014
Overheard at the bomber game “beer tastes so much better when there are no tears in it” #bombers
— Stephen Cripps (@wpgsteve88) June 27, 2014
Stephen Cripps of Winnipeg was at the Blue Bombers’ decisive opening win over Toronto … after Winnipeg went 3-15 last year. The tweet comes from our Jenny Vrentas, on the scene to witness the Bombers’ opener.