Top Ten Football Tuesday: Why In The World Is Anyone Panicking?

Talk about a great football weekend! I love Labour Day for the sheer fact that CIS Football returns, the Canadian Football League season gets real, the Prairie Football Conference approaches the midpoint and the NFL season is about to kick-off.

With all of that football it should be no surprise the focus of today’s top ten list, in no particular order. So here we go.

10 – The weekend started off on a sour note with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies dropping their first home opener since 2002 to Manitoba, 34-28. Ironically Manitoba was the last team to win at Girffiths Stadium on opening night. That being said the panic button is being pressed and the daggers are out in Toon-Town. Honestly I don’t get it! Yes the loss was a tough one and with three turnovers in the red zone there were points left on the field by the Dogs. However, those mistakes can be cleaned up. That having been said now is not the time to panic. Unfortunately some are already predicting the Huskies starting the play-offs on the road. Wow, pretty bold one week into the season.

9 – Not a lot of love being shown for Quarterback Drew Burko. Yes the fourth year pivot tossed four interceptions in the loss on Friday night. As Matt Dunigan would allude to there is absolutely nothing to suggest that he wouldn’t get a chance to toss a fifth had the offence gotten back on the field. As I went back through the film from the game the INTS were not entirely Drew’s fault, there was some poor patterns run by receivers AND he had pressure in his face much of the second half.

8 – More on Burko and listening to some as I was leaving the stadium they are already calling for back-up Kyle Siemens to start this week in Alberta. The situation is eerily similar to what happened in Riderville before Darian Durant was injured in last year’s Banjo Bowl. You don’t appreciate what you have it until it’s gone. Drew has done so many good things through this year’s spring camp that I am confident that he will bounce back. Also two things to keep in mind. It is game number one and Manitoba is not Laurier, some credit has to be given to the defending Canada West Champions.

7 – Saturday night was statement night in the Prairie Football Conference. The league’s two heavyweights tangled at Saskatoon Minor Football Field as the Hilltops hosted the Regina Thunder. I would love to say when the rain cleared, but that wasn’t the case, but when the final gun sounded Saskatoon had scored an impressive 35-17 win over their rivals from the south. Logan Fisher was a first-down away from 300 yards rushing in the contest as the Hilltops moved into sole possession of top spot in the PFC.

6 – The Hilltop win also exercised the demon so to speak. The lone loss for the Toppers at the renovated SMF Field came in the opening of the facility last September when Regina scored an emotional come-from-behind win over Saskatoon. The Hilltops have not lost since that game but you knew that loss stung the franchise for a long time.

5 – Sunday saw the Saskatchewan Roughriders pick up their first win of the season, a 37-15 Labour Day win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Many in Rider Nation are hoping for an extended winning streak to get the Green and White back into play-off contention. I hate to be the voice of reason but Wow! Taking nothing away from Bob Dyce and what the Rider coaching staff was able to do the Labour Day Classic at Mosaic Stadium is a free-space on the Rider scheduled. The emotion, the expectation, the magic all add up in the Riders favor. Throw in the added boost of a new coaching staff and the fix was in, so to speak.

4 – You also need to remember that the Bombers are pivotless with Drew Willy out and the newly acquired Matt Nichols not being ready to hit the field. Winnipeg starting Brian Brohm is like the Riders sending out Tino Sunseri, oh wait we did that – doh!

3 – One more on the Riders/Bombers, the true test is in the Banjo Bowl. If the Green and White can overcome the crowd, and obstacles that the Bombers faced on Sunday then the team has a shot of moving out of the CFL basement. Unfortunately, I think that the play-off ship has sailed.

2 – Other CFL Labour Day weekend action saw Hamilton flex their muscle with a big win over Toronto. It’s amazing to me that with the changes in Riderville this last week the statement that the Riders let Kent Austin get away has been made. That astounds me as the Riders made Austin a huge offer before he left for College football after the 2007 Grey Cup. Rider Nation needs to realize that there was nothing that the Riders could do to keep him and when he resurfaced in Hamilton the Green and White were happy with Brendan Taman and Corey Chamblin at the helm. Heck they even beat Austin in the 2013 Grey Cup. That being said Austin is perhaps the savior of the Hamilton franchise and very easily one of the best decisions made by Bob Young as his tenure of the owner of the Cats.

1 – The final game of the week showed the importance of winning to Edmonton Head Coach Chris Jones. Trailing in the fourth quarter he put a recovering-from-knee-injury Mike Reilly into the game in place of the faltering James Franklin. Reilly did inspire the troops, somewhat, but it should have been evident that despite a strong showing by the Eskimo defence they were not going to come back on the Calgary defence into the wind. The game was decided long before the fourth quarter, though. The turning point came before the game even started when the Eskimos Dexter McCoil, a defensive captain, refused to shake the hands of the Calgary captains prior to the coin toss and instead decided to trash talk Bo Levi Mitchell. All this happening with sponsors and television looking on. To my way of thinking the offence is classless and suspendable. Then again his Head Coach didn’t shake hands at all last season and the league mandated him to do so this season.