The fifth week of the Canadian Football League has arrived—and has come with a sad price. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers club announced late Tuesday afternoon that longtime defensive line coach Richard Harris had passed away at the age of 63, following a sudden heart attack.
The outpouring of support from around the league has been positive, with those sharing great moments had with the "gentle" giant. And while the Lions look to get their first win and spoil the party at Canad Inns Thursday night, they are unaware of what team they will face come kick-off.
B.C. Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Date: July 28, 2011
Time: 7:00PM CST
Team Record: 0-4 | Team Record: 3-1
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers enter week five with a win on their shoulders after the team rebounded from being down 17-3 after one quarter, then outscoring Toronto 30-7 in the final three quarters to win 33-24 on Saturday afternoon. Following their second day of practice, they learned their long-time defensive line coach had passed. The news would cripple the organization from top to bottom.
The B.C. Lions will look for their first win of the season after failing late against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Quarterback Travis Lulay threw for 251 yards, with one touchdown and one pick. Jamel Richardson ran in two touchdowns, but it was not enough to stop Kevin Glenn and company.
Thursday night will see a team held together by a thin string, but know that they have an entire fan base behind them as they look to honour their fallen brother. As for the B.C. Lions, Lulay and company will look to spoil the celebration and get their first win of the season, but it will not be easy to attain.
Through the first four weeks of action, the Bombers defense have averaged 229.25 yards per game through the air—a league best—and 93.50 rushing yards. The Lions, on the other hand, have given up an average of 135.75 yards on the ground and a league high 316 yards through the air.
This game will be a tough fought battle and everyone remembers last year’s comeback win, orchestrated by Steven Jyles. Through the last six contests in Winnipeg, however, the B.C. Lions are 4-2.
Verdict: Winnipeg by 10.
Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Date: July 29, 2011
Time: 5:30PM CST
Team Record: 3-1 | Team Record: 2-2
The Montreal Alouettes have yet to announce if they will have quarterback Anthony Calvillo behind center, after leaving last week’s contest mid-way following an eye injury. So far things have progressed steadily, but will need a further day to make a proper analysis. Montreal would eventually lose their first game to Saskatchewan on Sunday night.
Hamilton comes into week five with a two-game win streak, after completely demolishing Saskatchewan before pulling out a thriller against the B.C. Lions last week. After two wins, starting pivot Kevin Glenn has thrown for five touchdowns, zero interceptions and has 507 passing yards. It was announced that Glenn will get Chris Williams for another week as Maurice Mann continues to recover from a cut on his foot.
This will be a pivotal East Division match-up. A win for Hamilton moves them to 3-2, tying them with Montreal. Should Winnipeg lose Thursday night, Hamilton has the potential to set-up a three-way tie for first in the East.
For Montreal, if they don’t get Calvillo at the start, they’ll turn to Adrian McPherson, who has all the confidence from Marc Trestman to go out and lead the team. For Hamilton, they’ll simply need Kevin Glenn to continue orchestrating his offense as he has been and keep the game clean. They most certainly could give the home crowd something to cheer about.
Verdict: Montreal by three.
Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Eskimos
Date: July 29, 2011
Time: 8:30PM CST
Team Record: 1-3 | Team Record: 4-0
The Toronto Argonauts have everything going against them this week as they prepare to play the Edmonton Eskimos. Following their 33-24 loss to the Bombers last week, Ricky Foley, Ejiro Kuale and Jim Barker were all fined for comments—and the late hit on quarterback Buck Pierce.
During that same game, linebacker Joe Lobendahn gave Toronto quarterback Cleo Lemon a good lick which chipped his tooth and forced him to leave the game. That move has prompted Dalton Bell to get the start for Toronto this week.
The Edmonton Eskimos are on cloud nine right now, after winning their fourth straight game Saturday evening over the division rival Calgary Stampeders. As the team continues looking for their stolen bike they also continue to put up numbers. Ricky Ray continues his fine play—albeit throwing his first pick of the season—and the defense has done enough to keep them undefeated.
Saturday will see defensive end player of the week Greg Peach out of action, along with receiver Adarius Bowman. That isn’t to say there isn’t talent in Edmonton to fill those roles, however, and Fred Stamps will certainly be one of them—he has had a hot start since returning.
For Toronto, they will need to stay positive and the offense will need to flow through quarterback Dalton Bell. Don’t overdo it, but they will need to strike quick. Edmonton has only lost the lead once this season.
Verdict: Edmonton by fourteen.
Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders
Date: July 30, 2011
Time: 8:30PM CST
Team Record: 2-2 | Team Record: 1-3
The Saskatchewan Roughriders enter week five on a high, having been able to defeat their rival the Montreal Alouettes—who beat the Roughriders in the last two Grey Cups. This victory was made sweeter as it notched one peg under the win column. And they did so against a steady defense that has allowed the third fewest yards per game.
On the other side, the Calgary Stampeders are looking for continuity on all three phases of their game, as witnessed Saturday against Edmonton—quarterback Henry Burris struggled at times with his passes, under-throwing wide open receivers. They eventually hit their stride late in the game, but the comeback was not enough and Edmonton prevailed.
To beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I find that the Stampeders will need to be on all three phases of their game. The Roughriders will be at home, will have their fan support and it will be loud. While Darian Durant did not put up huge numbers, he managed his game well and got the win. For Saskatchewan to take out Calgary, they will need to find a way to take down their defense, who gives up an average of about 324 yards a game, 232 of it through the air.
Verdict: Calgary by six.