Three-down footbal

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Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:24 pm

I enjoy our Canadian game and we got a good one last night when Calgary played at Saskatchewan. The nice part was that the game was also carried in the U.S.A. by the NFL network, and gave their viewers a rare treat.

The Saskatchewan crowd in unbelievable; despite a wholly open stadium and a 55-yard wide field plus broad sidelines, they have no trouble drowning out the visiting quarterback with their cheering. The home team risks being deafened. As usual the stadium was sold out. The battle, between the visitors who lead the whole league in wins, and Saskatchewan as their closest pursuit, was epic. The home team cracked off around 700 yards of total offence, but had a few errors too so the lead changed hands no fewer than eight times during the game which ended in a tie at the finish of regulation time. In the overtime tiebreaker Saskatchewan prevailed in the first mini-game, ending it.

But it was certainly the sort of thing we're happy to see go out to the expanded audience. Play was fast and exciting, the fans were clearly having a ball, and the players were skilled and determined, It was a prime example of what football ought to be.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:34 pm

And we thought we had problems with the narrow sidelines at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton!

But this couldn't happen in Canada - the field is wider (55 yards), longer (110 yards and the end zones are a lot deeper, too. And since the game is older, it's played in stadiums meant to accommodate the size - usually, more or less. Though the greed of promoters for more seating knows no bounds, so nibbling at the edges is common. Still, get this...

This is why you shouldn’t play football at Wrigley Field

November 19, 2010

Cathal Kelly

The discovery Friday that the dimensions of baseball shrine Wrigley Field in Chicago do no accommodate football: One of the end zones abuts a brick wall.

After 18 months of planning, NCAA officials have realized that baseball shrine Wrigley Field is dangerously unsuited for football.

Unfortunately, they made the realization one day before a big football game is played there.

On Saturday, Northwestern and Illinois will play at Wrigley in front of a sold-out crowd. The lucky fans are seated in the western end zone.

That’s because the back of the eastward end zone abuts a brick wall in right field. The goalposts there have been mounted on the wall. One long touchdown pass and someone is going to get seriously pancaked.

So Friday morning, the NCAA passed a set of temporary rules that make football a half-court game.

All offensive plays will now head toward the relatively wide-open expanses of the west end zone. Each time possession changes, the ball will have to be re-placed to accommodate the change.

“It’s a little different and the decision is a little late,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told USA Today.

In an effort not to totally alienate half the crowd, all kickoffs will head into the east end zone.

It’s worth noting that the Chicago Bears played at Wrigley for half a century. It was just as dangerous then — one of the end zones fell off into a dugout. But they valued human life less in those days.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:07 pm

This Sunday (Nov.28th) the two divisionsal champions will play in Edmonton for the Grey Cup. This is the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl, but a good chunk of a century older. The game will be played in Commonwealth Stadium, which is an outdoor facility, so weather culd well be a factor.

The Eastern winner was, to no one's surprise, the Montreal Alouettes, a.k.a. the Beast of the East, who easily destroyed Toronto's hopes in the first ten minutes of their division final then coasted home in the comfy confines of Olympic Stadium. Saskatchewan went into McMahon Stadium in Calgary to face the 13 - 5 Stampeders on a field made slippery by a fine snowfall in a -17ºC (-2ºF) temperature at game time dropping rapidly throughout the game, with a wind chill of -24ºC (F don't ask). It was a close and gritty game but Saskatchewan prevailed.

As it happened, these two teams met in the Grey Cup last year, and on the last play with Saskatchewan up by two points and Montreal with the ball, the Alouettes tried a field goal and missed. But a penalty was called - Saskatchewan had messed up their coverage and had too many men on the field. After the penalty brought them closer, Montreal retried the kick, got it through the uprights, and won the game.

If serious agendas make for good football, both these teams will be bringing enough gravitas to produce a classic game. It will be carried on various American networks at 6 p.m. Sunday and should be worth looking for.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:57 pm

THE 2011 SEASON

I do not expect to be posting game by game or even week by week here - in fact this is being written before the Edmonton at Saskatchewan game which tomorrow evening will complete Week 1.

So far, Hamilton has been a disappointment, opening at home against their East Division rivals Winnipeg. Winnipeg had a bad off season, losing some key players to retirement, free agency, the NFL and a spate of injuries. Their quarterbacking is suspect to begin with, and they were on Hamilton's home turf. Hamilton, by contrast, found a couple of free-agent stars, and got strong replacements for the veterans who retired. They were tough last season and were expected to be the most improved team right out of the gate. The game was tight and Hamilton did mostly hold an early lead but stage fright seemed to take over both quarterbacks and the kicker and Winnipeg took home two points.

The shocker was in Montreal. Not the score, because the Alouettes with veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo seeming none the worse for his off-season cancer treatments managed to hold off a quite feisty BC Lions team, but because after an unbroken run of 105 games they actually had one that was not a sellout. That's even more rare than their losing one at home.

Calgary, who were 13 - 5 in the 2010 regular season, opened at home against the 9 - 9 Toronto Argonauts. Toronto's novice quarterbacks showed great improvement from last year, but Calgary's pivot was the league's MVP last season, an honour the veteran has taken home before. Both Toronto and Calgary had major attrition over the winter, with many new faces in both lineups and many positions a question mark. But for whatever it's worth, the visitors went home with the two points in a seriously contested battle, something they haven't accomplished in Calgary since 2005.

Tomorrow Edmonton, very much a rebuilding team, comes to Regina to visit Saskatchewan, who have lost some key players but retained the core that made it to the Grey Cup last fall. There just may be more entertainment from the fans, such rabid boosters they make Green Bay look like pussycats, than on the field, but it should be worth the time to watch.

And this year Americans, who have responded well to the much different northern game, will have a lot more of the games carried live on the NFL network, with more available on streaming internet feeds and radio from tsn.ca. The who look in may well get a pretty fascinating surprise.

UPDATE

In what is our first major upset of the season, Edmonton (who didn't make the playoffs last year, and are doing a major rebuild) came in to Saskatchewan, who were finalists in the Grey Cup. After a Saskatchewan touchdown to open proceedings, the Eskimos simply took charge, kept scoring, and ran away with a game that eventually finished 42-28 in their favour. Since the other two Western Division teams lost in their matches, Edmonton is now i n first place in the West, while the Eastern Division has a three-way tie. All of which is unlikely to last through next week.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:18 pm

In the U.S. it's Columbus Day, but in Canada that's when we celebrate Thanksgiving, and in football in a way similar to the American model. With 13 of the 18 regular season games played, it's when playoff eligibility and likely matchups start coming clear, and this weekend was very decisive.

Toronto, sad sack of the league, played in Montreal, entering the game with a 3 - 10 record and leaving with 3 - 11. To the surprise of many, Toronto actually ended the first half leading by a field goal, but that was all the points they scored. Montreal stopped laughing long enough to take them seriously and scored a couple of unanswered touchdowns on the way to a decisive win, which incidentally removed Toronto from any possibility of winning a playoff spot this season.

But the fan interest was elsewhere. With a touchdown pass completion that ended the third quarter, Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo racked up the yards that made him the all-time leading passer in professional football history. He also has the record for most touchdowns and most completions. The CFL had a congratulatory tape ready to go, featuring greetings from the four previous highest record holders, Dan Marino (5th), Brett Favre (4th), Warren Moon (3rd) and Damon Allen, the immediate previous record holder. Damon Allen, the younger brother of NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who played exclusively in the Canadian league, was on hand to take part in the congratulatory ceremony. It may be a symptom of the more wide open Canadian rules and bigger field that the top three all have a Canadian component in their records.

This also means that Montreal is now tied with Winnipeg at the top of the Eastern Division, with Hamilton trailing badly but four games still to be played. These will decide which two teams meet in the Eastern semi-final and which gets the bye into the divisional final, the winner of which goes to the Grey Cup. Since Montreal faces all powerhouse teams over the period,the most plausible outcome is a Winnipeg - Montreal - Hamilton finish in that order, with Winnipeg going on to the Grey Cup. But long experience shows that in the CFL anything can happen and likely will.

In the Western Division, Vancouver's B.C. Lions desperately want to be in the Grey Cup this year. They spent most of the season playing in a substitute field while their home stadium, B.C. Place, was being massively refurbished and upgraded, including a new retractable roof. And B.C. Place is the chosen venue for the Grey Cup game this year. But they started the season 0 and 6, while Edmonton had an astonishing 7 and 0 run.

But then B.C. caught fire. They won their seventh game and every single one since, so as of Friday night they were tied for the division lead with Calgary. It wasn't easy. Calgary has shown a penchant for winning on the road and losing at home this year, and came into the game at B.C. with an 8 -5 record to the Lions' 7 - 6. The game was a dramatic seesaw. with suspense added as the B.C. kicker, Paul McCallum, was on track to break the Canadian league record for consecutive field goals - and did then added another before missing one, which Calgary promptly ran back for a touchdown. But B.C. clawed back and on the last play of the game needed a field goal to win. And so McCallum came out and, at near the maximum of his range, made the kick that sailed through the uprights and won the game.

This inspired Edmonton, which has been in a tailspin threatening to lose as many games as it has won, to soundly thresh the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders, by a score of 17 to 1. And yes, it was a matter of which side would be the more inept, but the Riders - last year's Grey Cup finalists - outfumbled them handily. So as the week ended B.C., Calgary and Edmonton are tied atop the Western Division, while Saskatchewan's only remaining hope is that over the next four games they will win enough to finish with more points than Hamilton in the East and so replace them in the Eastern semi-final.

So all in all a true Thanksgiving style of weekend football, and many more thrills to come as the final placings are decided.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:41 pm

And so the regular 2011 season has come to an end, and as the Iron Duke said at the Battle of Waterloo, "It was a damned close-run thing, sir". Going Into the last week of the season, Saskatchewan and Toronto had been eliminated, while Hamilton had advanced as far as they could. The rest of the teams - two Eastern Conference and three Western - were all tied at the top of the standings with identical 10 - 7 records. And home field advantage in the semi-finals, or the bye into the divisional finals, would be determined first by game points, next by the records of the two teams involved in intra-conference games with that opponent, then by total points in those games.

Hamilton played in Toronto, and lost a spirited game - not that it changed anything. Edmonton played host to Saskatchewan, a team whose sorry 5 - 12 record owed much to an exceptional rash of injuries throughout the season, including towards the end their first-string quarterback. Edmonton prevailed, playing on their own turf, but Saskatchewan did not make it easy and ended the season with their heads held high.

Let's not go into the history that made Winnipeg an Eastern club this year; they went into Calgary as the leaders of their conference, having won their intra-conference series against Montreal, the defending Grey Cup champions. And in clear but icy weather, with snow piled on the sidelines, the teams see-sawed back and forth. Finally Calgary's second string quarterback built the decisive edge, in a way that made him a leading candidate for a long, prosperous and successful future in the Canadian Football League. The win made them 11 -7 and temporary occupants of second place, while Winnipeg was resting on the bubble in the East. It would all depend on the result of Montreal's game against the BC Lions in Vancouver.

The Lions lost their first five games of the season - then went on a run that saw them win ten of the next eleven. Some of the wins were lucky, some by a scant margin, but they won. Montreal had won their way to the Grey Cup the last three years straight. It shaped up as a classic battle - the winningest coach in the history of the league against the quarterback who has thrown for more passing yards than any other in the history of professional football anywhere.

It wasn't just no contest, it was pathetic. BC with their first-string quarterback new this year simply shredded the vaunted Montreal defence at will. The BC defence simply absolutely humiliated the most successful quarterback in the history of the game so far, to the point where his coach pulled him early in the third quarter to spare him further humiliation. The final score was BC 43, Montreal 1. And that flattered Montreal.

So this weekend, Calgary will visit Edmonton in the Western semi-final. My assessment is that Edmonton are gritty and stubborn, but Calgary's new star will be more than they can cope with. Montreal will be at home to Hamilton, one of the few teams that have had any success there in the last few years. Montreal is the better team, but Hamilton is scrappy and hungry, and their morale was not shattered the way Montreal's was last weekend. I would like to see Hamilton go on to meet Winnipeg in the Eastern final, but I think the odds are slightly against my wish being granted. But it should be a good game.

So it should be a pretty exciting six hours Sunday afternoon as they go for all the marbles and the losers go home. It will be a thrilling end to a notably suspenseful season.
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Re: Three-down footbal

Postby meteorite » Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:53 pm

And so the deed is done for the season of 2011.

The divisional semi-finals were as entertaining as predicted. In the east, Montreal moved into the Olympic Stadium (their normal habitat being Molson Stadium at McGill University) to provide enough seating for the anticipated crowd, and while there were vacant seats they got a duly impressive gate. And the fans got a game for the money, as the battle see-sawed up and down the field to end in a regular-time tie. In the overtime Hamilton finally prevailed, but in the process the two teams built the highest combined score in Canadian playoff history (52 - 44) keeping the crowd in suspense all the way. Out west Edmonton had home field advantage against Calgary in a frigid Battle of Alberta - Green Bay fans, whose colours match the Eskimos, would have felt right at home. Both teams had trouble with traction and cold hands, but staged a gritty battle in which Edmonton finally prevailed.

So for the eastern final, Hamilton had to venture west to the city aptly nicknamed Winterpeg - and it was cold and it was windy. And Hamilton had come through their bruising battle with Montreal, while Winnipeg's Blue Bombers had had the advantage of an extra weeks worth of healing and preparation. Two miracles in a row was too much to ask, and Winnipeg led all the way to win handily. Hamilton was dogged and played well, but Winnipeg had lost both their marquee running back at the last game of the season, and had to call in a new kid from their practice roster. He simply gave a clinic on running on a slippery field and beat the Tiger-Cats almost single-handed.

I had rather hoped Hamilton would have been able to play through Winnipeg, because I felt their stubborn, lunch-bucket offence might give the BC Lions more of a fight in the Grey Cup. This assumed that BC would defeat Edmonton in the western final, which they did quite handily. So the Grey Cup was Winnipeg at BC, with the Vancouver team in their home stadium, and while a Grey Cup crowd comes from all across the country, and in significant numbers, the host city team gets an extra helping of the tickets which sell out even before the season starts. So there was an overdose of Lions colours in the stands, with noise to match.

the BC Lions stated their season 0 and 5 before moving to 1 and 6. Meanwhile Winnipeg held the lead in the Eastern division pretty well all of the season. But then BC went on a tear, winning ten of their last 11 games, while Winnipeg tailed off at the end enough for Montreal to tie them in the divisional standings, while BC ended in a three-way tie in their division. On the season records, the two teams were well matched. In fact they weren't.

The Lions lead from the opening kickoff and never lost the lead. They just built and built and built their points pretty much at will. Winnipeg struggled mightily, but despite a too-little, too-late insurgence late in the final quarter were never in it. It was an interesting enough game, both teams showcasing the talents of some very able players, but the outcome was never in doubt as BC romped away with the Cup.

On to 2012. The season will begin on Dominion Day weekend (July 1) and end on the last Saturday in November. The 100th Anniversary playing of the Grey Cup will be in the Skydome (Rogers Centre) in Toronto. Since the Toronto Argonauts now have the same owner as the BC Lions, it's hoped that he will find a way to bring the woeful 2011 team with its 6-12 record to contention. n all that 100 year history, and counting 2011, only four teams have ever won the Grey Cup in their home city stadiums. We'll be hoping the Argonauts can make it five.

And so, on to 2012. Yea, Argos!
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