Thursday, August 18, 2016 — Week 9 in the Canadian Football League (CFL) features back-to-back double headers.
Friday Night Football brings the Montreal Alouettes to Ottawa to face the REDBLACKS followed by the BC Lions hosting the Calgary Stampeders in a showdown for first in the West.
The Lions and Stamps split their previous matchups, with the Lions winning by two points in Week One and the Stamps winning by three points in Week 6.
On Saturday, the Argos host the Edmonton Eskimos in a 4 pm ET start followed by the Tiger-Cats returning home to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The game will mark Zach Collaros’ first appearance at Tim Hortons Field since he suffered his knee injury last September 19.
- In a league where the bar for a great season for a pass catcher has long been set at 1,000 yards, only three superstars have managed 2,000 yard seasons: Calgary’s Allen Pitts, Toronto’s Terry Greer and former Argo and Eskimo Derrell Mitchell.
- So it’s incredible that two players in the CFL are currently on pace in the same year to reach such a lofty plateau. But what’s really amazing? They play for the same team.
- Edmonton’s Derel Walker has 800 yards and fellow Eskimo Adarius Bowman has 789 yards with seven regular season games down and 11 to go.
- Last week Walker recorded 132 yards on 10 receptions and Bowman notched 107 yards on nine receptions.
- Walker has five games this season with more than 130 receiving yards, while Bowman has five games with more than 100 yards.
Here’s a look at the torrid pace Walker and Bowman are on and how it compares to the trinity that previously captured what amounts to the Holy Grail for CFL receivers.
A SPECIAL, SPECIAL TEAMER
- Special teamer extraordinaire Jason Arakgi of the BC Lions is now only one special teams tackle away from becoming the CFL’s all-time leader.
- He is currently tied with retired Bomber Wade Miller with 184.
- Miller, by the way, is now Winnipeg’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
- Arakgi, the son of former Montreal and Winnipeg standout receiver Nick Arakgi, has been the model of consistency since being drafted out of McMaster University in 2008.
- He has recorded at least one special team tackle in 107 of his 144 games.
- He is closing in on his ninth straight season with 10 or more special team tackles.
- He has had multiple special team tackles in 53 games.
- He has had three or more special team tackles in 20 games.
- He has recovered four fumbles on kick coverage.
- In 2009, he was the West Division’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, an honour that typically goes to a returner or a kicker.
- Former Tiger-Cat Marc Beswick, who retired in 2015 with 121 special teams tackles, is the only other cover ace to represent his division in that category.
Here’s a closer look at Arakgi’s stats.
Min1 = Games with at least one ST Tackle; 3+ = Games with 3 or more ST Tackles.
- Remarkably, in a league that has seen so many legendary kickers, the three most accurate field goal kickers in CFL history are currently active: Winnipeg’s Justin Medlock (87.1%), Calgary’s Rene Paredes (85.7%) and Edmonton’s Sean Whyte (84.5%).
- Each are currently on a hot streak: Paredes has connected on 20 FG attempts in a row, Medlock 14 in a row, and White five.
- Paredes owns the CFL record with 39 consecutive successful field goals.
- The trio ranks among the top 30 all-time scorers: Medlock is 30th with 818 points, Paredes is 25th with 939 points and Whyte is 22nd with 973 points.
- If you include Ottawa REDBLACKS kicker Christopher Milo and his FG success ratio of 80.5%, the league has four active kickers among the top six most accurate kickers of all time.
- Montreal Alouette Nik Lewis moved up to eighth in all-time receiving yards following Week 8’s game versus Edmonton.
- At 12,410 yards, he has now passed Saskatchewan legend Don Narcisse, who has 12,366.
- Lewis, who has 918 career catches, needs just two more to move past Narcisse and into sixth place on the list for most career receptions.
- Lewis will need to maintain an impressive pace this year to reach the next rung on the all-time receiving yardage list: another former Saskatchewan star, Ray Elgaard, has 13,198 yards.
- Weston Dressler, with 8.151 career receiving yards, is just 105 yards away from tying Stephen Jones for 35th on the all-time receiving yards list.
- Hamilton’s Andy Fantuz, with 7,676 receiving yards, and Adarius Bowman, with 7,518, are nearing the milestone of 8,000 career receiving yards – something only 41 players in the long history of the CFL have accomplished.
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers enter their bye on a three-game winning streak following wins over Edmonton, Hamilton and Toronto.
- Key players in the turnaround have been Andrew Harris, Matt Nichols and Clarence Denmark
- Harris has had a tale of two seasons. In the first five games he averaged 41 rushing yards on 10.6 carries per game. During the current win streak, Harris is averaging just under 100 rushing yards per game and is carrying the ball nearly 20 times a game.
- In his last three games he has had ten rushes of ten or more yards. In the first five games he only had three.
- He also has a TD in each of his last three games.
- Winnipeg was 1-4 when they inserted Matt Nichols as their starting quarterback. He is now 3-0 as a starter this season.
- In those three games he has averaged 265 passing yards and completed 71.7 per cent of his passes while throwing for five touchdowns and only one interception.
- One of Nichols’ favourite targets in the past two games has been Clarence Denmark.
- In Denmark’s only two games of the season he has recorded 264 receiving yards on 14 catches including three touchdowns.
- He had a career game in Week 8 versus the Argonauts. Denmark collected 195 receiving yards on seven receptions and scored two touchdowns.
- As mentioned above, Denmark has had a great comeback season since signing back with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but he is not the only player to see success so early into their return.
- Argonauts’ receiver Diontae Spencer made his season debut following a back injury and was nearly as productive as Denmark. Spencer hauled in 146 yards on a CFL season-high 18 targets, 11 of which he caught.
- Four of those receptions were key second down conversions.
- Zach Collaros started his first game since going down with a season-ending injury last season.
- Starting his first game since suffering a season ending injury almost a year ago, Tiger-Cat Zach Collaros passed for 331 passing yards and two touchdowns. He helped the Tiger-Cats overcome a 20-point deficit to tie the game at BC Place, before the Lions captured a victory in the game’s final two minutes.
CROSS BORDER OFFICIATING
- Three CFL officials will work NFL pre-season games this weekend as part of the NFL-CFL Officiating Development Program.
- Dave Foxcroft, who has 249 games of CFL experience, will work the San Francisco versus Denver game on August 20th.
- Dave Hawkshaw, a veteran of 147 CFL games, will work the New Orleans versus Houston game on August 20th.
- Justin McInnes will work at Lambeau Field when the Oakland Raiders visit the Green Bay Packers.
- McInnes, who has officiated 93 CFL games, will work alongside Head Referee Bill Vinovich, who officiated the Super Bowl last year and was a CFL official in the 1990’s.
- Foxcroft and Hawkshaw will work as Field Judges, a position comparable to the CFL’s Side Judge. McInnes will work as a Line Judge south of the border.
- Darian Durant has become the first CFL player to reach 300+ attempts and 12 consecutive QB starts without throwing an interception.
- Durant’s current streak covers 321 consecutive pass attempts over his last 12 starts plus his final 16 attempts on Jul 26/14 (he had his first attempt that day picked off by Toronto’s Thaddeus Gibson).
- Calgary’s Charleston Hughes had three sacks last week versus Saskatchewan Roughdries and moved up to No. 22 on the all-time CFL sack list with 78. Hughes passed Leroy Blugh in the process and is four sacks away from joining the top-20. He would join Harold Hallman, Angelo Snipes and Bennie Goods with 82 sacks each.
- BC’s Richie Leone punted seven times versus Hamilton and averaged 62.4 yards per kick; that’s the third highest single-game average in CFL history. He trails only former Tiger-Cat punters Nick Setta in 2008 (64.7) and Paul Osbaldiston in 2002 (63.5) for the highest single-game punting average.
- In BC’s last four games they have amassed 164 points (41 points per game average). In those four games Jonathon Jennings has thrown ten touchdown passes.
- Jennings has eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark in four straight games. He joins Most Outstanding Players Dave Dickenson, Casey Printers and Doug Flutie as the only BC QBs to pass for 300+ yards in four consecutive games.
- Penalties were at their second-lowest point of the season with an average of 17.5 penalties per game during Week 8.
- Through 32 games, the average amount of penalties per game sits at 19.4. That’s a 11% reduction compared to last year at the same time.
- During Week 8 action, games averaged over five turnovers per game, the second most in any week this season.
- Winnipeg took advantage of the six turnovers they forced versus Toronto which led to 24 of their 34 points following Toronto giveaways. Shaw CFL Top Performer Kevin Fogg was responsible for three of the turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble recovery).
- Winnipeg is +12 in the turnover ratio - that’s their highest ratio in 12 years.
- Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson is riding a six-game unbeaten streak as a first-year head coach (5-0-1).
- Ottawa is number one in red zone touchdown percentage (79%). However, they are also 9th in getting into the red zone with only 14 trips this season.
- Home teams have begun to heat up. They have won nine of the last 15 games.
- The last two weeks have matched a season low of just seven coaches’ challenges. The league is now averaging 2.4 per game.