From huddle to huddle: "The way I see it"
Drew Willy's huddle in Winnipeg.
Found a running back in Nick Grigsby, Buck was right when he said he was a slasher!
Aaron Kelly had the half of his career, crazy-good TD catch to open the scoring in 2014, can he sustain that production?
Hate to see Cory Watson continue to have hammy problems, he's a difference maker for that offence when he's healthy.
Drew's smiling for many reasons, but the biggest reason has got to be for the amount of one-on-one coverage he saw against the Argos. When looking back at the video it's unbelievable how much cover 1 he faced. Play after play, flat across the board, man to man coverage. It's a quarterback's dream to get that percentage of man coverage in a game. When the Argos tried to apply pressure and blitz, Drew had a relative easy time reading the alignment of free safety Matt Black. The young QB, making his fifth career start, was seeing everything clearly. He spotted the ball with great accuracy and timing when exploiting the one-on-one coverage and easily detected zone coverage delivering the ball with anticipation and location. Fun night at IGF experiencing the birth of a new coach, new quarterback and new attitude for the Blue and Gold!
Ricky Ray's Huddle in Toronto
The old saying "When you least expect it, expect it", applies here. I for one, thought Ricky was going to shred the Bombers. Hello Mr. Wrong! There's another saying/philosophy that "offence is the best defence". Well I'd say that's true to some extent here but Winnipeg's defence was swarming the record-breaking quarterback from 2013 all night. With that said, Ray showed his pedigree and still posted solid numbers that most QB's would take in a heartbeat, 27-38-283-2TD-0INT.
A few costly turnovers, out of his control, and this game may have not been so one-sided, just saying! Looks like Ricky and Co. are going to have to score often if the Argos defence does not come around quickly. Really that's their job anyways, score and score often. I'd be surprised if they don't!
Mike Riley's huddle in Edmonton
The same gutsy style of play we fell in love with in 2013 was on display against his old teammates at BC Place, with a bit of a twist. The slide was incorporated into Mike's game and it was effective. Not that he didn't get smacked around out there, which he did, but all in all against a talented Lions team, the Eskimos leader led and did it without flinching. What a difference a healthy Adarious Bowman makes. Next to "Thick Nik" Lewis in Calgary, is there a more physical receiver in the CFL? Bowman balances the field so well and opens up Fred Stamps to do more, although Fred was fairly tough to find in the Dome, except on one occasion when there was a bust in the BC secondary. Shamawd Chambers caught my eye as he seems to have an extra bounce in his step. The third-year receiver from Wilfrid Laurier was exploding out his breaks and played with a discernible difference of confidence. Great to see.
Kevin Glenn's huddle in BC
The night started out fantastic for the New Lion King, showing off his accurate arm and leadership skills, knifing the Eskimo secondary with precision-like daggers in the first quarter. He found Gore, Poblah, and then Harris who owns BC Place Stadium. Since coming back to the stadium after the refurbishing, Harris has 24 touchdowns in 26 games played! Glenn needed Harris to produce because Ian Logan went MIA, due to the lockdown put on him by the Edmonton defence. Next possession something strange happened, Eddie Steele stole Glenn's pass attempt over the middle, showing sweet hands on an interception that no doubt he will tell his grandchildren about. That was the first of four interceptions Glenn would throw in his debut. I know he will take responsibility for the mistakes and has, but you have to give some props to Edmonton's defence and the pressure and poise they played with. Finding a way to get it done offensively and getting Logan involved won't get any easier as the Lions go on the road and face a tough Montreal defence this week. I expect the new Lion King to be on the hunt and rebound for the sake of the pride!
Bo Levi's huddle in Calgary
Climb on up, settle into the saddle, put a quarter in the ride and let's roll. That's what Bo Levi Mitchell did when he took the reigns of the high powered and explosive offence. In some tough windy playing conditions he was patient, efficient and accurate when he needed to be. The biggest throw obviously was the 102-yarder to Maurice Price right before the end of the first quarter with the howling wind at their backs. Who knew those would be enough points to win the contest at that juncture? I'll bet ya, Rich Stubler, the Stamps new defensive coordinator, and his troops had a sneaky suspicion. The new signal caller for the horsemen is going to have the luxury of many weapons at his disposal. One of those weapons is second year receiver Jeff Fuller, who many believe is poised to have a big year. Bo was looking for him and found him on three occasions. He can always look for Marquay McDaniel, Nik Lewis and Brad Sinopoli. If the defence has miraculously covered all those guys then Bo can always turn to the ground and pound with the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in 2013, Jon Cornish. An eight-year veteran, Cornish suffered a concussion during the contest and fortunately for the Stampeders they have a bye this week and there will be no pressures to play the warhorse. If Cornish is not able to go in a few weeks, Mitchell can always hand the rock to a guy I've had my eye on for a while, Matt Walter, third year running back from the University of Calgary. I can't wait to see this kid fed the ball on a regular basis. Bo's got to be smiling while atop of that thoroughbred!
Troy Smith's huddle in Montreal
Watching this video back on this game was painful in many ways. Let's just say there's a lot of work to be done in Montreal. Troy's huddle is loaded with exceptional talent from top to bottom and it's great to see Brandon (two-way) Whitaker back on the field. Two-Way is an exceptional multi-faceted back that should see the ball early and often until Troy settles in. There is much hype around the former great receiver, Chad Johnson and justifiably so. But Chad has a long way to go before he's consistently contributing at a high level here. He's playing "Z" receiver in the Als' offence, that's the receiver that is the farthest one away from the quarterback to the field side. Tough for a young quarterback that's learning this game to consistently find the Z in the offence. Got to move Chad around but you can't hurry that process because he's just getting accustomed to this game. Duron Carter is a second year player that everyone has pegged to break loose. Good call! But after watching the video, Duron needs to find consistency in his game before that's going to happen. He's on when he thinks he's got a chance the ball may come his way and off when it's a run play or the ball is going the other way. Easy fix, if the young receiver wants to. It's called being a pro and hustling on every play. If I was Troy, as those two gifted athletes figure out the game, I'd be locating SJ Green a ton and continue to rotate in Brandon London, Kenny Stafford, Eric Deslauriers, and Dave (Sticky) Stala. The big boys up front are as good as they come in the CFL, rely on them, Two-Way, SJ, simplify things, run it, play action, screen it, high percentage throws, move the launching point and use the unusual amount of talent in that huddle.
This is the second year in a row that I find myself scratching my head when it comes to the decisions being made or not being made in Montreal. I'm telling ya that puts an experienced quarterback such as one of the best, if not the best ever, in Anthony Calvillo in peril, let alone a young and talented one like Troy Smith. Give LaPolice a call, please!
Zach Collaros' huddle in Hamilton
The young hired gunslinger is in town replacing the old wily veteran. He's a decade and a half younger than the old fart, more affordable, he's promising, all shiny bright, and new. With that comes some growing pains and an initial drop-off that you hope to coach up to where he comes around quicker rather than later. But in the meantime, games such as what we witnessed this past weekend are going to happen. That was an old fashioned butt kicking and what impressed me about Zach's performance is how he handled it, for the most part. I didn't like it when he walked past head coach Kent Austin while Austin was coaching him up! Not a good sign, but I understand, stuff happens in the heat of the battle. But I liked the way Collaros kept getting up after he was stapled to the ground, time and time again. You look at his numbers and although not great, he really did not force the issue and turn the ball over like he could have very easily. He hung tough and will learn from this debacle.
His huddle was a bit depleted without Andy Fantuz and a healthy Greg Ellingson. With that said that's a talented group nonetheless. Recognition, protection and discipline are three areas which will get better with time and reps. With every rep, things will become a little clearer for the young quarterback and he will be able to recognize fronts, stunts and coverages better with each and every one. The ball will come out quicker, improving the so-called protection problems. The young quarterback will be better equipped to put the boys upfront in more advantageous positions improving the offence overall. Discipline is a learned characteristic, the Ticat coaches will pound that one home! In the meantime Zach lived and hopefully learned to fight a better fight another day! Mamma always said, there will be days like this! Unfortunately, I've been there and more than a few times, ouch! Let's just hope Zach is a faster learner than I was...
Darian Durant's huddle in Saskatchewan
I can hear Darian introducing himself to Anthony Allen and saying, "Anthony, I'm Doubles, and I'm going to hand you the ball about 20-25 times a game and your lucky ass is going to get to run through holes as wide as the prairies, here in Saskatchewan, that those guys, yep, those big dudes over there, open up for you". "Now I'll buy the dinner and the cool refreshing drinks for all y'all just as long as you promise to hang on to the ball and catch it every now and then, sound like a plan"? And so it went...Doubles gave the ball to Anthony over and over and over again. And just as Darian said it would happen, the holes were as wide as the prairies in Saskatchewan. Now what I wanna know is, did Doubles buy dinner and the cool refreshing drinks? Darian looks mighty comfortable, even the most horrific conditions could not dampen the production offensively. Sure not great numbers passing, that just was not in the cards. Adapt and conquer, that's what they did. They went to the ground-and-pound and found themselves what looks to be a keeper in Double A. Brett Swain continues to impress as did Ryan Smith. I know Saskatchewan's offence was cheering the loudest for the performance their defence was laying down, led by Ricky Foley's three sacks and six tackles. The Riders made the most of a poor situation at Mosaic Field and for the folks that could be on hand, they were full of Rider Pride.