Top Ten Tuesday – Welcome to Summer AND Panic-ville!

Summer officially arrived in our province yesterday afternoon! However, panic arrived early Saturday evening after the Riders dropped their second, and final, pre-season game in Edmonton. Is it panic time? No! BUT there is some cause for concern.

To help ease the panic, I think, here are my weekly thoughts in no particular order.

10 – So what to make of the Riders oh-and-2 pre-season in which they were outscored 53-26 by B.C. and Edmonton? I think a fair assessment is that the Riders were doing just that. With only thirteen hold-overs from last year’s 3-and-15 team the Green and White had to figure out what exactly they have as opposed to preparing for the regular season. So no need to panic but there should be some concern especially on the offensive side of the ball.

9 – Calling a spade a spade; So, while the Riders needed to upgrade in all areas of the team to me the most pressing need was finding someone to develop at Quarterback behind Darian Durant. Unfortunately, for the Riders Darian lost two years of his prime dealing with injuries. The cold hard fact was that no one was able to step up and guide the offence in his absence in either 2014 or 2015. I am not entirely sure that the Riders have that on their roster yet, however, there are whispers around the league the Riders are shopping to address that need.

8 – Back to the offence and all isn’t doom and gloom when you look at the stat line that the Green and White only put up 26 points in 8 quarters of football. Keep in mind that the Riders did turn the ball over in the score zone a couple of times last week which could have padded those numbers. Additionally, the Riders being on a bye week (despite no formal work-outs) will allow the number ones an opportunity to study film and learn more of the play-book which should allow them to hit the ground running when they return to the practice field on Saturday.

7 – Around the rest of the Canadian Football League, where the regular season will kick off on Thursday with the Toronto Argonauts hosting their rivals from Hamilton at the newly revamped BMO Field. Not sure about the time or location of the game watch TSN for 10 minutes as their promotion of the game is way over and above anything the Argonauts have had in the past. I guess it helps when the league’s rights holder owns one of the team. It’s not all roses in the big smoke though as football and soccer fans are clashing over the Boatmens move to BMO and there seems to be some skepticism that introducing tailgating to the Argos game day experience will have any impact on their attendance. While I do want to look for the positives here, what happens if BMO doesn’t work for the Argos?

6 – Elsewhere in the CFL the thermostat has already been turned up in a couple of markets with early success being essential. First on the hot seat is Mike O’Shea and Kyle Walters in Winnipeg. The Bombers brought back former head coach Paul LaPolice who could have the keys to the organization turned over to him in short order should the team falter out of the gate. Lets be honest the fan base in Winnipeg will not stand for yet another rebuild but with the addition of some key vets this off season that should not be the case.

5 – Also feeling the heat this season is GM/Head Coach Jim Popp in Montreal. Adding Kevin Glenn last year was huge in filling the void at Quarterback that the team hasn’t been able to fill since Anthony Calvillo left the field. The East is going to be the toughest that it has been in a while and if Montreal doesn’t show some improvement this season ownership, who apparently isn’t thrilled with Popp serving as boith GM and Head Coach, could look to make a change. Should mention that former Eskimo Head Coach Kavis Reed was promoted to Assistant Head Coach in the off-season which could be the start of a succession plan?

4 – One more from the CFL and credit where its due, Hamilton GM and Head Coach Kent Austin was able to resign Quarterback Zach Collaros though 2018 ensuring the stability of the most important position on his team for the foreseeable future. That’s not where the credit should end though as back in 2014, two months removed from a Grey Cup appearance, Austin realized that Collaros would be the answer at QB instead of the veteran Henry Burris. It’s that type of talent evaluation that has Hamilton in good hands for seasons to come.

3 – More football and best wishes to the Under-19 Team Canada that is wearing Red and White at the World Championship in China! The squad that consists of 10 Saskatchewan born players will give the world a run for their money. Among the players headed overseas are: University of Saskatchewan recruits; QB Mason Nyhus, LB Logan Manil, LB Eric Thakurdeen, LB Ben Whiting and DB Bowan Lewis, Saskatoon Hilltop rectruits; RB Adam Machart, and DE Riley Pickett. Canada opens the tournament Thursday June 30 when they take on Mexico.

2 – On a different field and this doesn’t sound good for the Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista. The slugger crashed into the wall in Philadelphia last week and is on the 15 day D-L and could miss some significant time. If I’m the Jays brass I take this time to gaze at what the roster looks like if they don’t sign Bautista at the end of the season. If the team manages it may be time to deal Bautista and find some young arms or prospects.

Race for the cure1 – Lastly, I’m hoping that mother nature co-operates for the Race for a Cure Saturday night at Wyant Group Raceway. This is the second year for the event at the track. Last year’s race raised five figures but most importantly saw the competitors on the track come together to show their support for those who are battling or have battled the disease. With that being said one of the most memorable of the first event was the unified lap the drivers completed before the green flag dropped. The event gets underway Saturday night at 6pm at the track hope to see you there.