CFL Roundup 22.0

Trade Deadline

The CFL trade deadline day produced very little in terms of exciting trades. Noel Prefontaine going to the Argos drummed up a little excitement, but no other blockbusters have come down the pipe. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been some exciting player movement as the BC Lions said good-bye to quarterback Casey Printers while the Esks claimed Derrick Armstrong off of the Saskatchewan Roughriders practice roster mere hours after he was added. Armstrong was in Saskatchewan just long enough to get his picture taken. With every team in the league still in a position to make the playoffs, there wasn’t one seller out there who was really looking to do a complete overhaul. Of course, that will change in the off-season, but for now it’s all quite on the CFL trade front.

Sports Agent Article has CFL Connection

The October 18, 2010 issue of Sports Illustrated features an article about former NFL sports agent John Luchs, who among other things, discusses his alleged involvement in paying college players in order to get them to sign with him on the dotted line. Among those mentioned in the article are former CFL players Singor Mobley and R-Jay Soward, who when contacted by SI, confirmed receiving money or other benefits from Luchs. It’s a fantastic read, although as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story and the parts that were not confirmed by a secondary source should be taken with that in mind.

Here is the link.

3 Down News

A while back, we mentioned that KJE Systemshad developed an application for the iPhone that featured news from around the CFL called 3 Down News. One of the features of the app is that it links to a variety of blogs around the league produced both by professional writters as well as amateur hacks. EsksNation.ca has now been added to the blog-roll, and we are grateful for the opportunity provided by Ken Edwards. You can purchase the app for $0.99 at the App Store.

Support Patrick Kabongo

Just reminder to continue to support Patrick Kabongo and Wellspring Edmonton in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. You can vote up to four times daily, so take five minutes and lend a hand to a worthy cause. The contest runs until the end of the month and you will continue to see reminders here on Esks Nation to vote for a very worthy cause. Here is the voting link.

CFL Tribute Video

For those who might want to see some cool footage from the past and present.

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Esks Add Quarterback to the PR

 

The Esks have announced the addition of a new quarterback to the practice roster this morning as they have signed former Eastern Washington product Matt Nichols. Nichols spent the past summer on the training camp roster of the Dallas Cowboys where he completed 10 of 16 passes for 81 yards and two interceptions during preseason action. He was released on August 19th. To see a pretty impressive pass that he made during the preseason action, click on the following link.

Matt Nichols 40-yard pass

During his college career at Eastern Washington, which by the way is a Division 1-AA school, Nichols put up some pretty decent numbers including a senior campaign where he completed 65.1% of his passes for 3,830 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. The one knock on Nichols seems to be that he takes a lot of sacks, including 28 over 12 games in his senior year.

Bringing in a new quarterback, even for just a little bit of look, is always interesting because they have the potential to become the face of the franchise. Say what you want about other position players, but a quarterback is someone who is known throughout the league’s entire fan base because of the position’s high profile. Most fans can tell you who the back-up quarterback is for each team, but ask them who is the back-up middle linebacker for Montreal (currently Raymond Fontaine) and you will get nothing but blank looks from all but the most ardent supporters of the league. Nichols may be nothing more than an extra arm, but the potential for something bigger should have fans intrigued by this latest Esks signing.

Parting Shots from Pre

For those of you that haven’t heard departed kicker Noel Prefontaine’s exit interview with CTV, I would suggest you have a listen at the following link.

Pre’s Exit Interview

I’ll embed something as soon as I can find it, but for now, have a listen to what he had to say.

Prefontaine didn’t exactly toe the company line before he caught his flight back to the centre of the universe, voicing strong criticism for decisions being made within the Esks coaching staff. He was particularly critical of being forced to one-step punt and the decisions made that have led to the Esks giving up the most safeties in the league.

Despite the remarks, Prefontaine also made it very clear that he truly enjoyed being an Eskimo and did not see the trade coming. He never wanted to not be an Eskimo, although the frustration in his voice shows that he was not happy with some of the things he was asked to do. To be fair to Prefontaine, he is a competitor that wants to do nothing more than win football games. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, and when asked to compete using facets of his game that are not his strong points, came across as someone who only wanted an opportunity to do his job to the best of his ability.

Esks fans certainly cannot begrudge the veteran kicker for not giving the team his all on every snap that he played. Among those with at least 10 field goal attempts this year, Prefontaine was second in the league in kicking percentage with 84.0%. Only Paul McCallum of the BC Lions has been better, converting on 35 of his 39 attempts for a 89.7% average.  

Esks Trade Pre. Rebuild Continues.

Noel Prefontaine was a gamer during his time with the Esks. No one can argue that he didn’t give it his all on every play as evidenced by the video above. His competitive spirit will be certainly be missed on an Esks team that will need every bit of fight they have left in them to make the playoffs in 2010.

Prefontaine might have asked for a trade back to Toronto, or he might not have said anything. It’s a moot point with the Esks trading the veteran kicker for non-import Etienne Legare, the second overall draft pick in the 2009 CFL Draft along with import linebacker Damaso Munoz. The trade has now been confirmed by the Esks on their website.

Prefontaine, despite being rumoured as wanting to go back east, was nothing but a consummate professional during his time in Green & Gold as he was one of the most consistent performers on the roster. Despite his ability to make the clutch kicks, his tenure in Edmonton was not going to be a long one in any regard as the organization does have Derek Schiavone waiting in the wings, who at nearly 12 years younger, represents the future for the position in Edmonton.

Legare is a defensive tackle who will back-up Adam Braidwood for the remainder of the season with Dee Sterling on the nine-game injured list. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see where the Esks decide to use the 265-pound Legare who could potentially be moved outside to defensive end. Either way, the Esks have a very solid non-import prospect to work with moving forward, and with the potential addition of defensive lineman Brian Bulcke next year, it’s not unreasonable to potentially see two non-imports starting along the defensive line sometime in the near future. It should be noted that Legare has compiled exactly one tackle this season while dressing for eight games.

The Esks also received defensive back/linebacker Munoz in the deal in the trade, which based on his current status as a first year import, could be nothing more than a throw in, but it’s intriguing to see that a soon to be 37-year old kicker, as good as he is, couldn’t be pried away from the Esks for the price of just a highly touted prospect 10 years his junior. Count me in as one of those who like this move by Eric Tillman as he starts building towards a better future in Edmonton.

Help Patrick Kabongo

No, we are not talking about on the field, he’s doing okay right there at the moment. For those followers of the Green & Gold who haven’t heard about this, the Pepsi Refresh Project is teaming up with the CFL to help refresh Canada with a player from each team supporting an idea to help better their team’s community. Kabongo is supporting Wellspring Edmonton, a cancer wellness centre that will provide the practical, emotional, physical and spiritual supports that most people need when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Cancer is a devastating illness for not only the individual affected, but also for their friends and family. Give your vote by clicking on the link below and help Patrick’s idea be a winner.

Patrick Kabongo – Pepsi Refresh Project

Oh yeah, you can vote up to four times per day, so take five minutes and stuff that ballot box!

Esks Game Day #14

While many are still taking a cautious approach to the Esks winning ways, it should be noted that since August 28th the team is a perfect 3-0 when facing teams that were not leading their respective divisions. Why is that important you ask? Simply put, it demonstrates that although far from being an elite team in the CFL, the Esks have figured out how to be not only competitive, but also how to win games against teams that they will ultimately compete with down the stretch when it comes to making the playoffs. Don’t think that the Esks might not be competing with Hamilton for the playoffs as a win this weekend would put them just two points back of struggling Tiger-Cats team and with BC starting to roll, the possibility of a Western Division team crossing over to the East becomes very real. Both the TIger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts will need to fight for their playoff lives in the coming weeks, and a Western team could take advantage of a mistake here or there.

Turnovers

When it comes to interceptions and fumbles recovered, the Esks are +10 in their four wins this season. Ball security will once again be a huge focal point this evening as both teams allowed the opposing defenses to score last week. If the Esks want to win, protecting the ball is going to be a must.

Switching the Pass Rusher

Looks like Kenny Pettway is a scratch for the game with a hand injury, but Kai Ellis will be playing in his place. Not a bad substitute. Pettway, however, has been the best defensive end this season at getting to the opposing quarterback.

Friday’s game also marks the return of Kamau Peterson to the lineup. It will be interesting to see how he looks after being out pretty much the entire season.

If the Esks win? When the Esks Win!

A certain local media personality has worked it out, and the Esks will make the playoffs. Assuming we go by what he says, and it will either be the Argos or the Lions that the Esks beat out of a spot, this is essentially what would need to happen.

Esks – (8 points)

@ Hamilton – Win (10 points)

@BC – Win (12 points)

vs. Saskatchewan – Win (14 points)

vs. Winnipeg – Win (16 points)

@ Saskatchewan – Lose (16 points)

Lions – (10 points)

@ Winnipeg  – Win (12 points)

vs. Edmonton – Lose (12 points)

@ Calgary – Lose (12 points)

vs. Saskatchewan – Win (14 points)

@ Hamilton – Win (16 points)

Argos – (12 points)

@ Saskatchewan – Lose (12 points)

vs. Hamilton – Win (14 points)

@ Winnipeg – Win (16 points)

vs. Montreal – Lose (16 points)

@ Montreal – Lose (16 points)

Giving the Esks four straight wins may be a little generous, but they actually could very well pull it off, and there is no guarantee that Toronto will even win two of their last five games. The Argos should not win in Saskatchewan and as long as Anthony Calvillo is playing, Montreal should be able to win their last two games. Winnipeg seems to be going nowhere despite the efforts of Fred Reid, but Hamilton could very well win their game in Toronto which could very well be the points that send the Esks to the playoffs. In any case, keeping on eye on the schedules of these three teams should be very intriguing in the coming weeks.

Details

Friday, October 8 @ 5:30 PM MST @ Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton

Weather Forecast: +16. Mainly clear.

Esks Have a Winning Streak!

After three days away from the Internet and all the joys it brings, arriving back in E-town to see an Esks win roll by on the ticker certainly warms the heart of those optimistic fans who have not given up on the Esks post-season chances. And while we are at it, the chances of an Eastern Division team making a cross-over to the West in the playoffs took a major blow, for which we are not that sad. Here the league picture as of Sunday night.

Notice anything? Aside from the point totals of each team? That’s right, all four team’s in the East lost this past weekend, and when dust settled, it looks like the West could potentially be looking at a cross-over scenario. Think about it for a second, if the Esks can pull out their second road victory of the season against Hamilton this coming weekend and Toronto losses to Saskatchewan, they would only be two points back of both the Argos and Tiger-Cats. Consider that Hamilton has games left to play against both Calgary and Montreal while Toronto has two contests against the Alouettes, and it’s not that hard to see a scenario where all four Western teams make the playoffs. Granted that more than a few things have to go the right way for both the Esks and Lions, but if these teams can find ways to win some key games, it could happen.

Rod Davis

Over-shadowed by Maurice Lloyd, Mark Restelli, and TJ Hill over the past year and half, Rod Davis has quietly waited for an opportunity to be a difference maker with the Esks. The former Minnesota Viking recorded his second interception return for a touchdown in as many weeks and led the Esks defence with seven tackles. He is making a strong case to Eric Tillman that he deserves a new contract at the end of the season, and based on the results of the past two weeks, Davis is making a pretty good argument.

Elliott Richardson

Say what you want about the diminutive safety, but the Esks are a better football team when Richardson is in the lineup. As someone who may be over-matched when it comes to physical talent alone, Richardson has to rely on his game smarts to be effective. Do you think Dave Stala might be wishing that Richardson didn’t read the play so well this morning?

Fred Stamps

Without him, the Esks receiving corp is pretty pedestrian, and it’s not totally because of inferior talent. Stamps is one of the best in the CFL, and despite the Tiger-Cats efforts to cover #2, he collected 181 yards on Sunday, marking the fourth time in nine games played he has gone over 100 yards receiving. When he is on the field, he opens up other opportunities for the Esks other receivers.

Kelly Campbell

For the second straight week, Kelly Campbell didn’t play, and for the second straight week, the Esks won. As was mentioned by one of the local radio stations this morning, is this a coincidence? Maybe, but maybe not.  Sometimes having the right mix of players is not always about having the best ones on the field.