Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toronto Argonauts vs. Edmonton Eskimos: A Clash of Two Desperate Teams

It was dejavu for the Edmonton Eskimos last week against the BC Lions.

The Eskimos held the lead late, when Lions quarterback Buck Pierce threw a long bomb to Geroy Simon, who managed to shred to Eskimos tacklers and score the game winning touchdown, giving the BC Lions a 34-31 victory.

The play of course was reminiscent to the Eskimos loss in 2006 when Milt Stegall went 100 yards on the last play of the game to give the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a 25-22 victory.

The Eskimos will be hoping for a change of fate when they take on the Toronto Argonauts.

The teams will meet on Friday at the Rogers Centre (TSN, 7:30 p.m., ET).

Luckily for the Eskimos, they are facing an Argo team who is facing as many uncertainties as they are, especially in the quarterback position. The usually reliable Ricky Ray has been having a rough year for Eskimos, and the combination of Cody Pickett and Kerry Joseph for Toronto has not been amazing.

On the Argos side of the ball, it is any wonder as to who will even be starting at quarterback.

With Pickett's injury, Joseph should likely get the ball for the Argos, but their have been reports that third string pivot Stephen Reaves will get the start.

Reaves, who spent most of his college career with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, has no experience in the CFL.

With the question marks surronding each team's offence, the game could be decided on the defensive side of the ball, the front seven in particular.

Both the Argos and Eskimos have a talented front seven. The Argos are anchored by linebackers Adriano Belli, Ronald Flemons, and linebackers Willie Pile and Zeke Moreno, while the Eskimos counter with lineman Greg Peach and Kai Ellis and linebacker Maurice Lloyd.

Which ever front seven does a better job of shutting down the run could put more pressure on the other teams quarterback to pass the ball. And with both pivots struggles, this could lead to disaster.

The Eskimos have had their share of dissapointments in Toronto.

Last season, the team lost in the last drive of the game after a Kerry Joseph run. The Eskimos will likely be hoping that history won't repeat itself.

CFL Q & A: Utilizing Jason Clermont

Why hasn’t Jason Clermont been more involved in the Saskatchewan Roughriders offence?

It was a fairytale scenario in the off-season for Jason Clermont, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their fans.

Clermont, coming off an injury filled year in British Columbia, had been released by head coach Wally Buono. The Riders didn’t wait long for before contacting Clermont, and eventually a deal was done. For many Rider fans, it was a deal they had been waiting for ever since Clermont entered the Canadian Football League.

With around 6,000 career yards and 37 touchdowns compiled his career, Clermont was expected to help bolster an offence that was already pretty talented, and provide some veteran leadership to the young players on the roster.

While the later point may be true, Clermont’s offensive production has been lacklustre. Many have dubbed Clermont’s time with the Roughriders a disappointment.

With only 215 yards a good ways through the season, it is hard to argue with this claim.

So why has Clermont been under utilized in Roughriders offence?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

There's Something About Buck

“So it’s a four point game and the Lions will need a touchdown to win this. Twenty-two seconds left. Second and ten from the forty-eight. Gotta be Geroy Simon time… and he’s got it…. And he’s going to go! Geroy Simon shades of Milt Stegall! Touchdown BC!”

-- Chris Cuthbert with the call as Lions quarterback Buck Pierce connects with Geroy Simon for the winning touchdown pass in BC's 34-31 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos

He’s been beaten, battered and bruised. Two weeks ago he was called out by head coach Wally Buono, who thought he needed to step up his game, and he has had to deal with quarterback competition from Jarious Jackson and Casey Printers. Through it all, BC Lions quarterback Buck Pierce has seemed to come out stronger than ever before, cementing his place as the team’s starting quarterback.

Whether or not you are a fan of the Lions, you’ve got to have a hell of respect for Pierce.

A star quarterback is not always measured by how many touchdown passes they throw or how many points they put on the field. They are instead measured by how they respond to adversity. When their team is struggling, they take on a leadership role and carry the team on their shoulders.

These are traits that can certainly apply to Pierce lately.

Two weeks ago, the Lions were preparing to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home. Their record sat at 5-7. A loss would have been detrimental. The team would have been three games below five hundred, and they would have found themselves in danger of missing the playoffs all together.

Buck Pierce was making his second consecutive start due to Jackson’s injury. Pierce had started the previous game against the Calgary Stampeders, where the team had suffered a loss. To make matters worst, a Saskatchewan Roughriders team riding their momentum of a victory in Edmonton was rolling into town.

Throw in the fact that Pierce was facing the pressure of losing his job, and the cards were certainly not stacked in BC’s favour.

But surprisingly enough, Pierce was not terrible.

Pierce led the Lions on a number of impressive drives early; unfortunately they were not able to capitalize. Pierce was dazzling. He finished the day with 343 yards passing and no interceptions. What made this feat even more impressive was the fact that he was getting hammered from the Roughriders defence, John Chick in particular, all game long.

Despite his play, it was not until the last drive of the game when BC won the game.

After Saskatchewan scored a touchdown to make the game 16-16, things looked bad for the Lions. But then Pierce, who was playing like a fearless leader, led the Lions all the way down the field, where Sean Whyte kicked the game winning field goal.

The win bumped BC’s record to 6-7, keeping them alive in both the West and in the crossover.
The Lions began a three game road swing this week in Edmonton against the Eskimos. Pierce once again got the start for the Lions. Coach Buono was obviously awarding Pierce for his clutch performance in the previous game.

Once again, a loss in this game would have been detrimental to the team. It would have almost guaranteed them a fourth place finish in the West, and they would have had to battle for a crossover.

In a back-and-forth game, Pierce was dazzling once again. He teamed up with slot back Geroy Simon to torch the Eskimos pass defence time and time again.

Pierce finished the day with 301 yards and three touchdown passes.

Yet, the Lions still trailed with under a minute to go thanks to a late Eskimos touchdown.

It was time for Pierce to work some magic.

Pierce made some clutch plays to pick up a couple of first down for the Lions. Then, with under 20 seconds to go, Pierce heaved the ball deep down field, and connected with receiver Geroy Simon.

It looked like the catch would set up the Lions in good field position, but two Eskimos defensive backs in the vicinity failed to take Simon down, and he ran all the way for a touchdown. The Eskimos managed a couple of more plays, but it was too little too late.

Now many people have called that final play lucky, but Pierce was the one who guided the pivotal last drive.

Two crucial wins later and the Lions have new life. The team sits at 7-7, which puts them in third place in the West. The Lions could potentially be in second place if the Saskatchewan Roughriders lose. In fact, first place is not out the realm of possibility for the Lions either.

Pierce seems to have breathed new life into the Lions. The offence is functioning better and the defence has also started stopping the run.

Pretty incredible for a player who was one bad game away from being released.