Monday, October 31, 2016
Something To "Mitch" About
FROM WORST TO FIRST - What a night! And no, I am not talking about what happened at Mosaic Stadium. On Saturday in a Winnipeg hotel where the Rams were having a pre-game meal, I said to U of R Rams coach (and soon to be named CIS coach of the year) Steve Bryce that it would be nice to not have a nail-biting finish and have a game you know is in the bag midway through the 4th quarter, Mission accomplished!
I don't know if I have ever seen a Rams team put in a more complete or more dominating performance that what I saw at Investors Group Field as the Rams destroyed Manitoba 55-21 in a game that was over early. The Rams wanted to send a message and they delivered. They were not going to let an opportunity to finish first in Canada West slip through their fingers.
While Bryce has changed the culture and the attitude in the room, one also has to give credit to offensive co-ordinator Mark McConkey and defensive co-ordinator Sheldon Gray. The two young former Rams are building themselves up a rather nice resume. As was mentioned during our broadcast Saturday night by U of R sports information officer Braden Konschuh, McConkey's name should be mentioned when it comes to those who could go to the next level. Marc Mueller has done a great job on a CFL staff and McConkey may be ready to join him in the future. What he has gotten out of Noah Picton and the Rams offence is outstanding. Yes, the Rams have never had a problem moving the ball, but the former Rams receiver learned a lot from Bernie Schmidt and has added in his own flavour to an offence that is purring.
As for Gray, he also is getting the best out of his troops. Guys like Danny Nesbitt, Bryce McKinnon and rookie Nick Dheilly have been fantastic this season thanks to the schemes the former Ram d-b has put together.
There was only one thing disappointing about the night. It looked like Bryce was going to get the Gatorade shower, but it never happened. It needed to! Yes coach, it did! Let's wait for two weeks if the opportunity presents itself, and if it does, don't let that slip through your fingers either. Although, mid November games at Mosaic aren't exactly the most balmy games.
The job isn't over yet as there are two tough games to go before the Rams can translate a first place finish in the conference to a Hardy Cup. Beating the defending Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds three times in one season will be a very tough thing to do. They get their chance Saturday at 3:30. Be there if you can! If they can do it, it could set up what could be an epic Hardy Cup clash at Mosaic Stadium between the Huskies and Rams. That would be an event! We can't talk about that for a week though. Games need to be played, but there should be a lot of people in this province excited at what could be happening down the road.
GOODBYE OLD GIRL - While doing the Rams broadcast, a TV was on in my broadcast location and you know what channel it was on. I was keeping an eye on what was happening at Mosaic Stadium. Yes, I was disappointed to see the final score as I thought for sure the Rider Nation and the emotion involved would be enough to see the green and white win their home and Mosaic finale. Wally had other ideas. During a commercial break, I saw the last play at Mosaic, and I will admit a lump hit my throat as Rider football in the iconic facility had come to a close. I did not get a chance to watch the closing ceremony until Sunday afternoon and my god, it was unbelievable. That was a half hour that will go down forever in Riders history. Was there a dry eye in the house when that was over? There wasn't after I watched it.
. What a show! I don't know what can be said about it that hasn't been already The final moments with Reed, Aldag, Makowsky and Durant brought goosebumps. Please tell me there is a print of those 4 men surrounding the Grey Cup. If there is, please sign me up for one--maybe two. That was Rider football right there!
By the way, never say you don't learn something. I did not know until watching the ceremony that the first games in Regina were played where the Sears clearance centre now sits and I did not know that the owner of the land where Taylor Field stands wanted to build the provincial legislature there. Imagine how different Regina and Wascana Park would look if the Legislature was at Taylor Field.
Sadly, what happened in the 60 minutes prior to the ceremony was not Rider football! I wasn't there and I didn't say 98 percent of the game so I can't comment, but my phone was blowing up from upset Rider fans who once again have become disenchanted with Chris Jones. The wins come and the trolls go back into hiding, but they re-emerge quite quickly when another loss or two springs up. Its like these damn maplebugs that go away when its cold, but come out in full force when the sun starts to shine. Its too bad you just couldn't take a shoe and do to the trolls what you do to the maplebugs.
VERRRRRRYYYYY WINNIPEGISH - I touched upon this last year when I made a visit to Calgary, and it was evident again while in Winnipeg. From the time I landed at the Winnipeg airport on Saturday morning until the time we headed on the bus to Investors Group Field, I could not find one sign that the Bombers were playing at home Saturday afternoon. There was nothing to indicate it at all that I could see. When in Regina, you know when the Riders are playing, There are signs all over the place and you know what the dresscode is on game-day. There was nothing around my hotel which was close to IGF indicating the Bombers were playing, and while on the bus to the stadium, one establishment's marquee invited people in to watch the Sunday diet of NFL and the Jets-Sabres game at MTS Centre. By the way, wasn't there a CFL game on Sunday? I digress. The only people I saw that knew a Bomber game was going on were two people who should have known----the father and brother of Weston Dressler as they were staying at the same hotel. When in Edmonton a couple of weeks ago, there were plenty of signs in the downtown area promoting the Eskimos, but that couldn't be seen in Winnipeg---at least not in the area I was in. Yes, I think the league needs to do a better job in marketing, but teams need to as well--perhaps moreso! This just reinforces how good of a job the Rider people do. Perhaps its time they sat other teams down and explained some things to them.
AT LEAST THEY HAVE THE CAVS AND INDIANS - The Cleveland Browns are 0-8 after a loss to the New York Jets. Somewhere there is an NCAA quarterback out there dreading the moment he will be picked number 1 by the Browns in the 2017 NFL draft. The team is bad, and their fans are bad too---at least when it comes to this.
Meanwhile, for the 2nd week in a row, there was a tie in the NFL as Washington and Cincinnati finished at 27 after 5 quarters. It has prompted the talk about whether or not you should just keep playing in the NFL until there is a winner. I say yes, but you then have to adopt the CFL and NCAA rules and have each team start their drive at a certain spot. I say it should be the 35 yard line meaning any field goal if you didn't get anywhere would be at least 52 yards.
SEE YA TUESDAY - Sorry Cleveland, that trophy isn't yours yet. The Cubs are sending the World Series back to Cleveland and do to the Indians what the Cavaliers did to Golden State which is come back from a 3-1 deficit to win it. Yes, this blogger was somewhat involved in what was a dramatic Game 5 of the World Series. Expect the same for Game 6 and hopefully Game 7. Anyone that tells you pitching doesn't win in the playoffs doesn't know baseball. What an incredible World Series this has been and yes, Cleveland deserves to be up 3-2 because they have had the better pitching.
CLAUDE WHO - Is there a more under-rated player in the NHL than Philly's Claude Giroux. He goes into the week tied for the NHL scoring lead with Connor McDavid. We talk about so many gifted offensive players in the NHL, but Giroux's name hardly ever gets mentioned alongside guys like Crosby, Tavares, Ovechkin, Kane and McDavid. Why? In the last 5 years, he has had the 5th most points.
MORE THAN A WIN - The Oilers saw their five game win streak come to an end Sunday night as they were beaten 2-0 by Ottawa. Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to get the goose-egg in his first start since his wife was diagnosed with cancer. The tears were flowing down Anderson's face as he was named first star while Edmonton hockey fans saluted him as did Cam Talbot. The Oilers goalie stayed behind to applaud Anderson for his efforts in what obviously was an emotionally-charged night for Anderson. The game is more than wins and losses sometimes. It is what makes the game great! We need moments like that to remind us sometimes.
That's all I got! Have a great week