Hello, S.J. Green. You leapt so high, on Saturday. So very, very high.
Did you lose radio contact with ground control, briefly, when you re-entered the atmosphere? Did you see Duke Williams while you were up there?
Here are this week’s takeaways.
1. IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO TACKLE ANDREW HARRIS
I may have undersold that a little. It might take an entire township, maybe even a small country. Harris’ performance against Edmonton on Thursday night was sensational and not just because of the numbers he put up. He rushed eleven times for for 105 yards – that’s an average of 9.5 yards per haul – and had eight receptions for 120 yards, 84 of those yards coming after the catch.
Not that the CFL keeps these stats but I’m sure that if you tallied the total number of Edmonton tacklers Harris carried with him on those rushes and for those yards after catch, it’d total about 80, as he seemed to buckle only under the weight of at least four men each time. When Harris runs the way he did on Thursday night, the only way to bring him down is to marshal the energies of an entire village for the task. Or to have Chris Pratt coordinate a team of velociraptors against him, perhaps. Even then, I think he gets to the stick before they get him.
I have previously used that sentence as a header in the takeaways column and I dare say it’ll probably pop up again from time to time. Because the game of football will never stop surprising, I don’t think. On Friday night, the BC Lions were knocking on the end zone door when they lined up like they were eagerly awaiting the release of a new iPhone.
As you can see by the illustration, that ain’t exactly a huddle because there is no huddling going on there. The “Super Power I” formation, I think, is what TSN analyst Glen Suitor called it. The Lions broke the formation, headed to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball quickly, hoping, I suppose, to confuse and confound. Mission accomplished as they were called for procedure on the play, though I don’t suppose that was the exact result they were looking for. However, the Lions somehow ended up with a first down anyway after the penalty was declined and then a measurement showed they’d gotten enough to secure fresh downs.
We still need to decide on a name for that thing. The Tow Rope? Stack With Extra Syrup? Drive-Thru Formation? The Burrard Bridge Bottleneck?
3. I THINK RICKY RAY’S SHOULDER IS OKAY
Well, duh, right?
Okay, two things: One, I never claimed to be splitting atoms with this column, so back off, mister. Two, hear me out. I’m not talking about the veteran quarterback’s numbers against Montreal, which were very impressive. I’m not even talking about a handful of well-spotted deep balls, either. Or the fact that head coach Marc Trestman left Ray in there for the entire game even though his team was up 35-0 at the half, which no coach would do if his QB was labouring. I’m talking about one, single play that illustrates Ray is totally fit.
Midway through the third quarter, Ray threw a pass that was batted at the line by Montreal’s Jean-Samuel Blanc. It then glanced off either Toronto running back Brendan Whitaker or tackle Chris Van Zeyl – or both – and into the arms of Als’ linebacker Dominique Tovell. Tovell took off, Ray being the last man who could possibly stop him. Ray dove at Tovell, swinging his right arm hard but fruitlessly at the linebacker’s feet. If that passing shoulder wasn’t fine, I kinda doubt Ray would do that in such a one-sided game. A lot has been said about Ricky Ray over the years but not once have I heard anyone declare that he’s stupid.
4. SOMETIMES YOUR SEASON CAN BE SUMMED UP IN ONE PLAY
Brandon Banks sits on the sidelines of Friday night’s contest against the REDBLACKS (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
For the Hamilton Ticats – 2017 edition – it is play 97 of their game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Scrimmaging second-and-one from the Ottawa 53-yard line and with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter, a salty headwind stinging their eyes (I’m writing a novel about pirates in my spare time, hope you don’t mind me working on my imagery a little), the Ticats were down but seemingly poised to burst through to better times, trailing by a score of 18-10.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli dropped back and let fly with a perfect volley, like a cannonball destined to rip the hull of an English frigate. Brandon Banks would catch it, and jog into the end zone, bringing new life and momentum, which would surely see the ‘Cats turning the tides on their season. Except that Banks bobbled the strike and it slipped his final grasp at about the Ottawa ten-yard line.
Every team has its injury woes, sure. But the litany of Edmonton injuries in 2017 has been so appalling, so stomach churning, George R.R. Martin finally said: “A li’l overdone on the carnage, don’t you think?”
Thursday night took it to even more extreme levels, as the team’s getaway plane came down with something. I don’t know what it was, exactly, maybe a strained rudder ligament (upper body) or perhaps a blown ACL on the landing gear’s retraction actuator (lower body). Before that, receiver Vidal Hazelton went down. Middle linebacker Korey Jones, too. Defensive back Brandyn Thompson was lost and so was lineman Jean-Simon Roy.
Edmonton’s six-game injured list is so extensive, Patrick Stewart could adapt it as a one-man show on Broadway as long as there was an intermission at the two-hour mark. And he’d also probably get injured while performing it. And the BC Lions would totally line up to see it.
Matt Nichols and Mike Reilly chat pregame in Winnipeg (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)
I like Mike Reilly’s hats. I don’t know what y’all are talkin’ about, those of you who are hating on his chapeau choices. Dude’s got style and he keeps you guessing, too. It’s like he raided the wardrobe department at Murdoch Mysteries. Keep on keepin’ on, Rikester.
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