Monday, July 25, 2011

Seven Points-Edition One

I am very happy to introduce a new series that will begin running on our new website, when we launch August 20th. The new series is called "Seven Points", and it will cover seven points of interest every week in regards to the game of football in all of its forms. Some weeks, we will present it to you in the form of an interview, and some weeks, it will be provided in the form of seven observations that we have from the week just played.
For our first edition, we will provide the interview format, and because we will provide CFL coverage for the first time, we were able to interview Andrew Bucholtz. Andrew writes for Yahoo Canada in the form of his blog entitled "The 55 Yard Line". Andrew is also an editor for, , and The CIS Blog, covering Canadian College Football. We have a huge amount of respect for Andrew and his work, and I am sure you will find that you do as well, if you have not had the pleasure of reading his material prior to this post, as he is one of the foremost experts on CFL Football. This interview took place before play this past weekend.
I hope that you enjoy our first edition of "Seven Points", and without further delay, here is the post. As always, thanks for reading!

#1...Are we destined for a showdown between Ricky Ray and Anthony Calvillo for the Grey Cup title, or will someone step up to derail either of them?

Calvillo's place in this year's Grey Cup game seems reasonably safe. Through three weeks, the Alouettes have been the most impressive and dominant team in the league, and a large part of that is thanks to Calvillo's terrific form. Ray's place, on the other hand, is more up in the air. He's been lights-out thus far and getting great showings from his receiving corps, but the question is if that's sustainable for the long run. Making it out of the West may be difficult, too; Calgary's looking promising and B.C. and Saskatchewan are better than they've shown. Ray and the Eskimos appear to have a shot to get to the Grey Cup, but there's a long way to go before then.

#2...Winnipeg won their first two games with barely adequate QB play from Buck Pierce. Now that he is banged up, and Joey Elliott looks done for the season, will the rest of the club step up and keep the Bombers moving forward, or are the wheels coming off of the wagon?

Winnipeg has had an excellent start to the season, but I'm not sure that will last. Their defence is great, but their offence has struggled, and Pierce hasn't been terribly effective even when healthy. With him banged up and Elliott done for the year, I'm not sure the defence will be able to keep the Bombers' boats afloat

.#3...With Anthony Calvillo breaking Damon Allen's passing TD record, who is the next generation QB who can possibly play long enough to establish himself as the next great CFL QB?

It's going to be interesting to see how the current crops of quarterbacks develop. Ricky Ray isn't that old, and if his current form continues, he could possibly have a Calvillo-like late-career renaissance. The next generation of current starters is Travis Lulay and Darian Durant, and both have shown plenty of promise (despite Durant's recent struggles), but they have a ways to go before entering the realm of CFL legends. Of guys who aren't currently starters, Montreal's Adrian McPherson, Calgary's Drew Tate and Winnipeg's Joey Elliott all look promising, but the question is if they'll get the opportunities.

#4...How long can we expect BC to struggle with their relatviely young roster, and are they getting closer to gelling as a group?

There's a lot to like about B.C. despite their early struggles. They played two good teams (Montreal and Calgary) very close, and their fourth quarter against Edmonton was promising. I think some of the newer players are starting to figure it out; Shawn Gore and Akeem Foster have both looked pretty solid thus far, the line is starting to gel and Tim Brown has looked great in the return game. I don't like their decision to cut David Hyland, as he's a young, promising player, but the Lions still have a lot of young talent, and they should improve as the year goes on.

#5...What can we expect from CFL expansion talks in Ottawa, Halifax, and Moncton, and other than Ottawa's return, is Nova Scotia a legitimate candidate for expansion? What about Quebec City and other possible markets?

The only expansion talks to really take seriously at the moment are Ottawa (which does seem close to actually getting their t's crossed in time for 2014) and Atlantic Canada. On the Atlantic front, there's likely to only be one team (especially at first); Moncton has the edge at the moment, but Halifax could get back in the discussion. A lot has to be done before they get a team out east, though; they need a committed owner, significant business support and a stadium plan. Quebec is very much a longshot at the moment, thanks to the presence of Laval and the Alouettes in the market already and concerns about splitting up that fan/corporate base.

#6...With only three games played, whom amongst the rookie ranks has impressed you this far, and who has not lived up to your expectations?

Amongst the rookies, I've been the most impressed with Winnipeg's Kito Poblah. Unfortunately, he got hurt quickly and is out for quite a while, but I think he'll be an excellent CFL receiver once he comes back. I also have been impressed with Edmonton OT Scott Mitchell, and B.C.'s Marco Iannuzzi could be good if he gets a chance to show what he can do.

#7...Can Montreal perform the unthinkable and go for the three-peat?

Circumstances look very good for an Alouettes' three-peat thus far. They've dominated every game they've played, and their offence is clicking right along. There are a few questions about the defence, but every other team has more notable issues. There's a long way to go still, but Montreal deserves to be the favourite at this point.

We thank Andrew for joining us this week. Andrew can be reached and followed on Twitter @AndrewBucholtz

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