TORONTO — If you thought the anticipation surrounding kickoff weekend would dissipate with the final whistle of Week 1’s concluding matchup, then you clearly forgot about the fine people living in our Nation’s Capital.
All the excitement, suspense, high hopes, and dreams that have been building up for years was unleashed on Thursday night, as the REDBLACKS took to the field for their first official CFL regular season game against the Blue Bombers at Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field.
One night later, Friday Night Football returns with an absolute bang, as the Lions and Alouettes kickoff a double header on TSN, with the Tiger-Cats and Eskimos closing out the night with a cross-division tilt in Edmonton.
Finally, the week ends with a Saturday afternoon clash in Toronto, as the Argos welcome the defending champs to Rogers Centre.
Equipped with the most up-to-date storylines, roster moves, stats, milestones and trends, enjoy this week’s CFL.ca Game Notes.
By the Numbers – Ottawa Edition:
Recognizing History: In presenting the record of football in Ottawa and in the interest of historical continuity in one our founding cities, the CFL considers the REDBLACKS to be part of a nearly continuous presence dating back to 1907 and the formation of the IRFU. Accounting for the three interruptions (1941-1944 WW II, 1997-2001, 2006-13), the CFL will compile the Ottawa record as two separate totals in order to highlight the achievements of the REDBLACKS and to integrate past seasons here in the Capital. This is Game #1 for the REDBLACKS and Game #1,034 for Ottawa Football Clubs as they head into their 88th (and first) season.
3,163 Days: A club from Ottawa last played a CFL game on November 5, 2005 making it 3,163 days between games (8 years, 7 months and 29 days). The Renegades defeated Toronto at Lansdowne Park 27-17 with the starting QBs being Kerry Joseph for Ottawa and Michael Bishop for the Argos. After an opening single by Toronto, Ottawa led for the final 50:22 of the game and Matt Kellett kicked four field goals to make the difference.
The Last Rough Riders Game: Prior to the renegades, the first incarnation of CFL Football was the Ottawa Rough Riders and they played 802 regular season games in the IRFU & CFL from 1907 to 1996 compiling a record of 373-416-13. The Rough Riders won the Grey Cup on nine occasions, the last coming in 1976. They last played on November 2, 1996 losing 35-24 at BC.
Looking back over 2002-2005: The Renegades lost their last season opener in 2005 but won over Winnipeg 37-25 in their 2004 debut game. The Renegades lost their franchise opener on June 28, 2002 at home to Saskatchewan by 30-27 and went 2-2 in four season-openers.
A Proud History – the CFHOF: The Ottawa Football Clubs have a total of 35 players that have been inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Experienced Roster for Game #1: Ottawa brings a real mix of CFL veterans and rookies on their 46 active-man roster for their inaugural CFL game. They feature 30 players who played in 2013 (including six from Edmonton and five from Hamilton) and 16 first-year CFLers. Their 30 veterans have 121 seasons of experience and 1,675 career games (56 GP per player), more than 400 more than the Blue Bombers have through last week’s game.
19 remain from the Expansion Draft: The REDBLACKS have 19 of 24 players on their Active Roster and Injured List for Week #1 that were selected in the Expansion Draft that stocked their club initially.
18 with Grey Cup experience: The REDBLACKS have 18 players on their Active Roster and Injured List for Week #1 that have played in the Grey Cup at some time in their career.
Henry Burris: The REDBLACKS most experienced player with 228 games going into his 16th CFL season, Burris will making his 187th career start for a fourth different club. Burris’ record as a starter is 100-83-3 and he ranks #4 all-time with 51,529 passing yards. Only four CFL QBs have ever started more games than Burris and he is also the CFL’s #39 all-time rusher with 5,033 yards, #5 all-time among quarterbacks (Damon Allen 11920, Tracy Ham 8043, Jackie Parker 5210, and Russ Jackson 5122).
Jovon Johnson & James Green: These two players will be meeting their former club in Ottawa’s opener having played for the Bombers last season.
In the 2014 pre-season: Ottawa started with a tough 21-17 loss “at home” to the Riders in Regina and then traveled to Montreal winning 26-10 outgaining the Alouettes 319 yards to 290 to win going away.
Looking to turn around the W-L Trend of 21 seasons: No Ottawa football club has posted a record ABOVE .500 since 1979, a span of 21 seasons. The Rough Riders matched the .500 mark however in 1983 and 1992.
Defence the key: Over four seasons, the Renegades never finished better than #7 out of 9 clubs in net offence allowed. Their offence was ranked as high as #6 (in 2003 and 2005).
National Talent: Among Ottawa’s 21 active non-imports or Nationals, there are 12 players with at least 30 CFL games played and among that group nine have dressed for more than 50 career games.
Major Stat From Week #1: If there was a single stat that stood out in the first 4 games it was the staggering number of penalties. There were 101 calls made or 25.3 per game and was the most penalized CFL week since Aug 2-4, 2007, a span of almost SEVEN years. It was the most penalized opening week since 2004 when 112 penalties were incurred.
A Very Defensive Week #1: With defences way ahead of the offences, the clubs gained an average of just 582 yards per game or 291 per team, down 16% from the 694 yard average in 2013. Only two clubs gained more than 300 yards last week and scoring averaged 47.8 points per game (52.8 in 2013).
10 Sacks for Saskatchewan: The Riders 10 sack total matched their club record set back in 1984 and was only the third 10+ sack total by any club since 1994. BC had 12 sacks vs Montreal in 2006 and 10 vs. Hamilton in 2008.
Winning Teams’ Edge: The four clubs who won last week held the following key advantages – Sacks: 19 to 6; Turnovers: 5 to 12; Rushing yards (avg): 124 yards to 49; Big plays: 10 to 6; TOP: 33:28 to 26:32.
Big Margins: The Eskimos 7-point win and 10-point lead was the only game last week where the winners did not pull ahead by at least 28 points during the game. Calgary 2+28, Saskatchewan +30, and Winnipeg +31 all posted big leads in their wins.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be without both Bryant Turner and Cory Watson this week. Turner has returned home to witness the birth of his daughter, while Watson is out with a hamstring injury. Kashawn Fraser will draw in for Bryant, while Canadian guard Paul Swiston will help round out the Bombers’ ratio.
The Alouettes announced over their Twitter account on Wednesday that both Duron Carter and Mike Edem will miss Friday night’s game against the Lions. No replacements have been announced yet.
Stay tuned for updated Roster Moves throughout the week.
Below is a look at the top five concensus picks by position, according to CFL on TSN Fantasy users:
QB: Drew Willy (34.4%), Darian Durant (23.7%), Mike Reilly (11.9%), Henry Burris (9.5%), Kevin Glenn (6.8%)
RB: Nic Grigsby (38.0%), Andrew Harris (11.3%), Chevon Walker (10.0%), Brandon Whitaker (8.6%), Stefan Logan (6.2%)
REC: Adarius Bowman (35.2%), Aaron Kelly (24.4%), Chris Getzlaf (16.3%), Chad Owens (13.8%), Rob Bagg (10.1%)
Flex: Adarius Bowman (10.9%), Chad Owens (6.6%), Aaron Kelly (6.1%), Andrew Harris (6.0%), Nic Grigsby (5.8%)
K: Paul McCallum (20.4%), Grant Shaw (19.4%), Lirim Hajrullahu (18.8%), Justin Medlock (13.3%), Chris Milo (8.0%)
D/ST: Saskatchewan (32.7%), Edmonton (20.0%), Winnipeg (20.0%), BC (10.6%), Toronto (4.1%)