November 24, 2018

CFL.ca Game Notes: A look at the 106th Grey Cup

EDMONTON — The Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa REDBLACKS have been here before.

The two clubs are set to meet in the championship for the second time in three years, as the 106th Grey Cup presented by Shaw kicks off at Edmonton’s The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.

Sunday’s finale marks the third time in four years that each of these teams has appeared in a Grey Cup — both have come away heartbroken, but the REDBLACKS have at least tasted victory once, edging the Stampeders in Toronto in 2016.

While Head Coach Rick Campbell’s team looks to continue filling out an impressive resume since the Ottawa franchise’s return to the CFL in 2014, the Stampeders are thinking about redemption. They’ve lost two Grey Cups in as many years and are favoured for the third year in a row.

Can the REDBLACKS capitalize on another trip to Grey Cup, or will the Stamps take care of their unfinished business?

Kickoff is at 6 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN, RDS and ESPN2. Click here for more broadcast details.

TREVOR HARRIS VS. BO LEVI MITCHELL

  • Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris have gone against each other as starters eight times in their career, all in the regular season. Mitchell owns a 6-0-2 record in those games, including a 2-0 edge when Harris was a Toronto Argonaut.
  • The Stamps’ quarterback won both starts against Ottawa this season, completing 35 of 56 passes for 417 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Mitchell had to exit Calgary’s Week 5 win after suffering an apparent knee injury, leaving the game with 166 yards and a touchdown.
  • Harris had his two worst games of the season vs. Calgary, being pulled for Dominique Davis in each contest. The REDBLACKS’ starter completed just 27 of 51 attempts (52.9%) for 228 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions, averaging  just 4.5 yards per attempt in those games.
  • It’s worth noting that Harris almost started the 104th Grey Cup against Calgary instead of Henry Burris. Burris tweaked his knee in warm-ups and was absent from the coin toss, but returned to one of the best games of his career, completing 35 of 46 passes for 461 yards and five total touchdowns in an overtime win.
  • After losing his last playoff game in 2017 to Saskatchewan, Harris earned his first playoff victory on Nov. 18, 2018 — a 46-27 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He threw a playoff record six touchdown passes.
  • Harris’ six touchdowns and 90.6 per cent completion efficiency in that game were the highest marks in CFL playoff and Grey Cup history.
  • His hot streak predates the Eastern Final. In his last seven starts, Harris has completed 78.6 per cent of his passes with 17 touchdowns, two interceptions and 9.9 yards per passing attempt.
  • Mitchell has thrown for 300-plus yards in all three of his Grey Cup starts – 334, 391 and 373 yards, averaging 366 per game, which is second all-time. He also holds the highest completion percentage of all-time in Grey Cup play. On the other side, his TD to INT Ratio at 1.00 (5 TD, 5 INT) is third-lowest among all QBs with at least 100 Grey Cup pass attempts.
  • Led by Mitchell’s strong arm, the Stamps have been the most vertical offence in the league, leading the CFL with 43 completions of 30-plus yards. However, after averaging 2.8 completions of 30-plus yards per game through the first 13 games, that rate has dropped to 1.2 per game over the last six. Receiver injuries could certainly be viewed as a factor in the decline.
  • Coming off back-to-back Grey Cup losses, Mitchell will try to avoid becoming the first quarterback since Sam Etcheverry (1954-56, Montreal) to lose three Grey Cup starts in as many years.
  • After throwing a career-high 35 touchdown passes and leading Calgary to a 13-5 record, Mitchell became the second youngest player in CFL history to win a second Most Outstanding Player. He first won the honour in 2016.

 

VETERAN PRESENCE

  • This Sunday Brandon Smith will be suiting up for his sixth career Grey Cup game. In the last 25 Grey Cup games covering 1994 to 2018 (assuming Smith plays), he will trail only five others. Smith has 20 career Grey Cup defensive tackles.
    • Grey Cup Games Played Since 1994:

Ben Cahoon – 8
Anthony Calvillo – 8
Scott Flory – 8
Anwar Stewart – 8
Bryan Chiu – 7
Roger Reinson – 6
Brandon Smith – 6

TURNOVERS MATTER

  • Since 1952, the team that’s won the turnover battle in the Grey Cup outright has gone 46-5. Fifteen times in the last 66 Grey Cups the turnover battle has finished even.
  • In the last 30 years, only Calgary at minus-one in 2014 has won a Grey Cup game with a negative turnover ratio.
  • Calgary led the league this year with a turnover ratio of plus-13. The REDBLACKS weren’t far behind, ranking third in the league with a turnover differential of plus-nine.
  • The Stampeders won the turnover battle outright 11 times this season, winning all of those contests. They were 0-5 when losing outright and 2-0 when even. The REDBLACKS won the turnover battle outright in just half of their contests this season, going 8-1 in the process.
  • In a season-sweep of Ottawa, the Stamps had a turnover differential of plus-seven, taking the ball away 10 times compared to three giveaways in two games.
  • While the Stamps tied for first in the CFL with 49 takeaways, the REDBLACKS were best in the league in ball protection, turning it over just 32 times.

 

RUSHING SUCCESS WINS

  • Of the last eight Grey Cups, seven have been won by the team that had the most rushing yards. Toronto defied that trend last year by winning with only 16 rushing yards — the fewest ever by a Grey Cup winning team (old mark, Saskatchewan 41 yards in 1989).
  • Since 2010, winning teams have averaged 21.4 rushing attempts, losing clubs just 13.2 per game (Since 1992  — a span of 26 Grey Cup games — the team that has more rushing yards is 21-5).
  • Ball control is also a big part of this. Toronto in 2017 became the ONLY team to win the Cup since 2002 (15 years) making fewer first downs. Toronto also became the ONLY team to win the Cup since 2004 (13 years) with less time of possession.
  • Since 2005, teams with a higher time of possession in the Grey Cup are 12-1 (Avg: 32:32 to 27:28, an edge of over four minutes of ball control).
  • REDBLACKS running back William Powell was the CFL’s second-leading rushing in 2018, finishing with a career-high 1,362 yards on the ground, an average of 85.1 yards per game. With 924 yards in 13 games, Calgary running back Don Jackson averaged 71.1 rushing yards per game.
  • Powell has played against Calgary three times in his career, with one game of more than 30 yards.
    • June 23, 2017: 5 carries for 30 yards, 0 TD (left in second quarter injured)
    • June 28, 2018: 13 carries for 123 yds, 0 TD
    • July 12, 2018: 8 carries for 17 yds, 0 TD (no carries in fourth quarter)

 

GREY CUP GAME NOTES

  • Close Grey Cup Margins: The last four and six of the last nine Grey Cups have been decided by six points or less.
  • Last 3:00? Of the last 18 Grey Cups back to 2000, 14 were decided in the final 3:00 (including 9 of the last 11).
  • Better Record?  Since 2005, the Club with the higher regular season winning percentage has won 10 of 13 Grey Cup games.
  • However, In 2016 and 2017, Ottawa and Toronto had poorer records but “upset” Calgary. Teams with a lower winning percentage have won three of the last six Grey Cups.
  • East Dominates in Edmonton: The East representative has won the last three Grey Cups played in Edmonton (1997, 2002 and 2010).
  • First Quarter Lead: The team leading after the first quarter has won six of the last eight Grey Cup games.
  • Pick Sixes: There has not been a ‘pick-six’ in a Grey Cup game since 2012 (Pacino Horne, 25-yard interception return).
  • Kick Return TDs: There has not been a kick return TD in a Grey Cup game since 2005 (Tony Tompkins, Edmonton, 96-yard kick return return).
  • Punt return TD: There has not been a punt return TD in a Grey Cup game since 1996 (Jimmy Cunningham, Toronto, 80 yards).
  • No TDs: The last team to NOT score a touchdown in a Grey Cup game? Hamilton in 1980 (lost 48-10 to Edmonton).
  • Grey Cup average scoring to 2011: In the last seven Grey Cups, the game’s average total points was 55.3, above the regular season mark of 50.7
  • Net Offence: Toronto broke many trends last year – they were also the only team to be out-gained since 2007 and win the game.
  • Sacks Allowed: The last five Grey Cup winners all allowed fewer sacks than the losing team.
  • Opening Drive Touchdown: The last teams to start the game with a touchdown drive off the opening kickoff? Ottawa in 2015 and BC in 2004.
  • Overtime: There have been just three overtime games in the Grey Cup in CFL history (1961, 2005, and the 2016 game won by Ottawa).
  • Eric Rogers: In four post-season games he has eight touchdown receptions on just 16 catches (all in playoff games, plus five catches for 108 yards in the 102nd Grey Cup.
  • Rene Paredes: Comes in tied for first all-time with Mike Vanderjagt, having made all nine of his Grey Cup field goal attempts (with a long of 39 yards).
  • Rob Maver: Comes in as the Grey Cup’s second all-time punter at 44.9 yards. His career long is 57 yards.
  • Kickers: Neither Richie Leone nor Lewis Ward have Grey Cup experience; Rob Maver and Rene Paredes have played in eight combined Grey Cups.
  • DaVaris Daniels: Brings 18 career Grey Cup catches for 202 yards in two starts. A 100-yard game would vault him into the top 12 all-time.
  • Micah Johnson: Had three quarterback Sacks in the second game of the 2018 season series vs Ottawa.
  • Terry Williams: Will likely replace Romar Morris this week. Williams has no post-season experience but three career punt return TDs, all coming this season.
  • Calgary O-Line: Each of last week’s starters has at least one career Grey Cup start, led by Shane Bergman with three (2014, 2016 and 2017).
  • Ottawa Receivers: Greg Ellingson (3) & Brad Sinopoli (3, 2 as a receiver) are the only REDBLACKS with GC experience/starts.
  • Ottawa Quarterbacks: Have no Grey Cup experience on the field and only Trevor Harris‘ two games as a backup to Henry Burris.
  • Brad Sinopoli: Was named Most Outstanding Canadian in the 2016 Grey Cup (6 receptions for 94 yards). He has played in the Grey Cup for both of these teams.
  • Greg Ellingson: Ottawa’s leading receiver vs. Calgary in 2018 (9 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD). He has 11 catches in three previous Grey Cups.