Steinberg's MMQB: Week 7 lives up to the hype Last week we talked about how many great stories and topics there were despite only being two games on the schedule. Apparently, history likes to repeat itself, because even with only two games on the schedule once again, Week 7 of the CFL season gave us more than enough to talk about.Deeper issuesRelated: Week 7 ActionToronto at Montreal» Recap: Argos sail past Alouettes » Video: Toronto at Montreal Recap» View Game Stats» Images: TOR at MTL» Milanovich impressed with team's startSaskatchewan at Calgary» Recap: Stamps get their revenge» Video: Riders at Stamps Recap» View Game Stats» Images: SSK at CGY» Riders' comeback bid falls shortUh...has anyone figured out what happened in the first quarter/first half of Toronto's 38-13 convincing win over the Als? Yes, the Argos are the defending Grey Cup champions, and yes they are a very good football team, but I don't think anyone saw a 31-3 lead at half coming. I know I certainly didn't. As Jim Popp returned to the sidelines in his first game replacing Dan Hawkins, I couldn't do anything but kinda feel sorry for the guy. I think we all agree that Hawkins was a bad hire and that he needed to go. I also think, however, that some of the problems that plagued Montreal went a little deeper than one man. That certainly seemed to be the case on Thursday night. To see Montreal turn the ball over six times is not something anyone is used to. Yes, five of those six turnovers came from two guys, but the whole thing spoke to an overall lack of focus. Two or three key penalties played right into that same theme as well. What I saw against the Argos was a directionless Montreal squad. For far too large a majority of the game, the Als looked like zombies and it seemed to be as quiet a Molson Stadium as I've heard in years. I guess this can be expected after a coaching change as dramatic as the one that was pulled off, but this needs to be rectified soon. It's tough to prognosticate what's going to happen with this team. On the bright side, they're playing in an East Division with only one team that looks like a true Grey Cup contender in Toronto. On top of that, the Als offensive line seems to have gotten things on track, as they've been much better of late, specifically in pass protection. The negatives remain daunting, however. On top of the previously discussed focus issues, this is an Als team without their top receiver. Jamel Richardson isn't coming back anytime soon with a knee injury, while running back Brandon Whitaker's timeframe remains up in the air as well. While Whitaker could be back for Week 8, that isn't a guarantee, and it's just another question mark in a season full of them in Montreal.Large marginI really didn't see Friday's tilt between the Riders and Stampeders having as large a margin on the scoreboard as it ended up. These two teams were so close statistically heading in, that three points one way or another seemed the most realistic scenario. Instead, Calgary put together a stellar first half and stepped up at key moments late to take a 15-point victory, handing Saskatchewan their first loss of the season in the process. Both teams now sit 5-1 on the year, setting up a pretty fun lead up to their next meeting in October.Following Thursday's walkthrough at McMahon Stadium, it was clear what the two main topics us media hordes had honed in on heading into this matchup. The first of those topics centered on a question: How do you get a mistake-free team to make a mistake? That question was answered very early on after the Stamps recovered a Kory Sheets fumble, marking the first Riders offensive turnover of the season. The other topic getting a lot of attention was the battle at running back between the aforementioned Sheets and Calgary's Jon Cornish. While Sheets is on record-setting pace in 2013, let's not forget it was Cornish breaking Canadian rushing records the year prior. Video Cornish Completes Hat-Trick with TD Run vs. Riders When Cornish was asked about potentially upstaging his headline-making rival, he was pretty clear in stating how his season was pretty good in its own right. Cornish even made sure to point out the 41 more carries Sheets had on him heading into Friday night. I guess he was right. Sheets still had a strong game, fumble notwithstanding. The CFL's leading rusher racked up another 125 yards on the ground and still remains on pace to shatter Mike Pringle's 1998 record of 2,065 yards in a single season. On Friday night, however, it was Cornish who made headlines, putting up totals that would have any fantasy football owner jumping for joy. At the end of the night, last year's rushing champion had 175 yards and four touchdowns, including a game-sealing 53-yard dash in the fourth quarter to set up his final score. I'm not going to build a narrative of Cornish putting together a game for the ages solely because he wanted to upstage Sheets. I will say, however, that Cornish is a proud guy who likes to deliver on the big stage. In one of the CFL's hottest rivalries, he did just that on Friday night. As for the Riders, as unhappy as they'll be, I don't think it's necessarily time to panic. There were some surprising elements that contributed to their first loss, however. They were one of the league's least penalized team prior to Friday night, averaging about seven per game before taking ten penalties against the Stamps. Four of those were of the major variety, gifting Calgary 60 yards in the process. For a team that is based on discipline, I would imagine Head Coach Corey Chamblin was none too pleased about that in the locker room.I was also a little surprised at what happened early in the fourth quarter when the momentum swung back Calgary's way. After a great special teams sequence that pinned the Riders on the five, Darian Durant was sacked for a loss of four after the Saskatchewan quarterback had to fight like mad to avoid a safety. What baffled me is how things were handled on the very next play. I am not taking pot shots at one of the league's best offensive lines, but I can't understand how they allowed Durant to be brought down for a game changing safety. Calgary didn't do anything differently, and were able to bring the heat effectively by rushing just four. That can't happen in a six-point game when everything was trending green. It was a costly mistake for the league's stingiest offensive line. All that said,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, Saskatchewan is still legit as being the top team in the league; they just have company who are also full marks for where they are. Calgary did a good job of messing with the Riders' pass protection, but that's still a strength in Saskatchewan. Durant still hasn't thrown an interception this year, and was pretty good at McMahon. Video MUST WATCH: Owens Returns Missed Field Goal 118-Yards for TD The best part is, both the Stamps and Riders have won a game against one another this season. October's meeting in Calgary will be a lot of fun regardless, but knowing the tiebreak scenarios that could exist, it becomes just that much more meaningful.Nothing but turmoilEven though they only have one win, you can't say things aren't exciting in Winnipeg. This week, the Blue Bombers did what they needed to: relieve General Manager Joe Mack of his duties. On top of that, CEO Garth Buchko was dismissed as well. Many had been calling for Mack's dismissal for some time, so it was a little surprising to see him kept on to start the season. From the head scratching handling of Paul LaPolice, to not actively going out and addressing the question marks at quarterback, it was clear Mack wasn't the right guy for the job. It was absolutely the right call by the Bombers board to make this move, but unfortunately, unlike firing a coach, there aren't going to be a ton of short-term benefits.In 2013, Winnipeg can't seem to get out of they're own way. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is having issues converting his four down attack north of the border, while the Bombers remain one of the most penalized team in the league,Cheap NFL Jerseys, something that is driving Head Coach Tim Burke nuts. Now, it sounds like more turmoil could very well be in the offing. On the field, it sounds like Max Hall will be getting his first CFL start at quarterback when the Bombers host Hamilton on Friday night. The former BYU standout and one-time Arizona Cardinals starter will be in for a steep learning curve throwing against a first team offence. Justin Goltz got two starts, and while he wasn't awful, he also wasn't inspiring a ton of confidence that he was going to be the guy to lead an upswing in play. Will Hall be that guy? Maybe, but don't condemn me for leaning towards unlikely. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Buck Pierce starting again at some point in 2013. Then, there's the off field turmoil. With the pending addition of Marcel Bellefeuille to the Winnipeg staff as a “consultant” is only going to stir the rumor mill into even more frenzy. Will he and Burke be able to work together? Is the former Tiger Cats Head Coach being groomed to replace Burke? Yeah, they're just speculative questions, but they're easy distractions for a team that needs less not more to mess with them.
Morris: DeMarco the new engine powering Lions offence The quarterback is the engine that drives any CFL team. When that engine goes into the shop for repairs you can't always swap it with another one. Vehicles are designed to operate with specific motors. In the same sense, the offensive success of football teams is driven by a quarterback with a certain skill set.When BC Lions quarterback Travis Lulay suffered a partially separated shoulder Sept. 15 in a win over Montreal it forced offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine to go under the hood of his offensive scheme and do some modifications so it would fit backup Thomas DeMarco. Chapdelaine had to tinker with the game plan to accommodate the second-year player's grasp of the offence and select plays DeMarco is capable of executing."With Thomas, we kind of knew his areas of comfort," said Chapdelaine, who is in his 10th season with the Lions. "We are also getting to learn each other a little bit."I've had a little bit more mileage with Thomas since he was here last year. At the same time you get into a game situation it's different. When the rubber hits the road the guys react a little bit different. Part of it is making sure that you understand what makes the guy comfortable in the offence and also what he can do."Early learning curve"This is my third start and I have plenty to learn. You want to make sure you are making the right decision and have your eyes in the right place ... The biggest thing is you don't make the big mistake and you are smart with the ball."- BC Lions quarterback Thomas DeMarcoB.C.'s 31-17 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Friday night leaves the two teams tied in second place in the West with 9-5 records. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for B.C. and was just the third loss at home for the Lions since they returned to a renovated BC Place Stadium on Sept. 30, 2011.The Lions are not alone in losing their starting quarterback this season. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are the only team that hasn't seen their No. 1 go down in a game. Some backups like Kerry Joseph in Edmonton and Kevin Glenn in Calgary have plenty of CFL experience. It's more of a challenge to make a young quarterback like DeMarco feel comfortable when he slips behind the wheel of an offence that was designed with Lulay in mind.The B.C. offensive scheme doesn't vary greatly from most teams in the league. The Lions like to establish a running game to complement their passing attack. They want their quarterback to be mobile and have a strong arm. With that in mind, they are not going to sign a backup quarterback who is a drop-back, pocket passer."We try to find guys that can complement what we are doing," said Chapdelaine. "Whether it's Mike Reilly (now with Edmonton) or Thomas, they have to be able to do some of the things we do offensively, generally speaking."Specially speaking, each quarterback is a little bit different. One of the things we do each week with the quarterbacks,Cheap NFL Jerseys, they get the opportunity to share with us their likes and even their dislikes. There are things they are not going to be as comfortable with."DeMarco played well in his first two starts replacing Lulay. In victories over Saskatchewan and Winnipeg he completed 33 of 54 passes for 378 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The 24-year-old from Old Dominion received a dose of reality in the Saskatchewan loss.Playing with his mother and grandmother watching in the stands, DeMarco completed 19 of 36 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted three times, one a pick in the end zone that snuffed out a scoring drive with B.C. trailing 7-3. The Riders also had five sacks."You have to learn from these situations," said DeMarco. "You are going to have bad throws. You have to bounce back."The Lions play in Calgary this Friday, then travel to Regina the week after. Lulay's status remains uncertain. B.C. does have veteran Buck Pierce, obtained in a trade from Winnipeg, as DeMarco's backup. Related Links Bio: Thomas DeMarco DeMarco Finds Moore for Week 14 TD Poised QB Leads Game-Winning Drive DeMarco was the third-string quarterback last season when he completed nine of 13 passes for 91 yards. He won the backup role in training camp after Reilly was traded to Edmonton. He is still facing a steep learning curve."This is my third start and I have plenty to learn," said the five-foot-11, 200-pound Palm Desert, Calif., native. "You want to make sure you are making the right decision and have your eyes in the right place."The biggest thing is you don't make the big mistake and you are smart with the ball."DeMarco wasn't the reason the Lions lost to the Riders. B.C. managed just 80 yards rushing and played an undisciplined game, taking 13 penalties for 138 yards. There were signs the veteran Rider defence took advantage of a young quarterback.Head coach Mike Benevides said that's part of a quarterback's evolution."It's like anything else, it's not going to be perfect," said Benevides. "There are going to be some growing pains and certainly experience isn't on his side."The rest of us have to give him a chance. All of us have to be part of that. It's never about one man."Chapdelaine said it can take two or three years for any quarterback to completely grasp a team's playbook. A new quarterback also must learn to read CFL defences which can be a challenge for an America dealing with the extra man in Canadian football.Sometimes that mean's keeping things simple."You don't want to put a guy in a bad situation," said Chapdelaine. "I'm not saying our system is that extensive or difficult to understand. You want to make sure the guy feels comfortable."You may have some parameters in the system that may never suit that guy and may never be called. Thomas is doing really well with what we are doing right now. I think every week there is an expansion in the parameters he is comfortable with."
Moffat: Carter bursting on to Alouettes scene Now that Duron Carter is leading the CFL leader in yards-per-catch and showing up on the radar screen for fellow rookie Tanner Marsh, the lanky son of recently-inducted Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter is ready to confess – Montreal was never really on his pro football radar.And this sudden burst to instant deep threat (3 big plays among his 8 catches in only 3 games) is a short lifetime in the making.“From my youngest days being a football player is all I've thought about,” says Duron, as quick to smile and laugh as he is to race down a sideline after a deep ball. “Every Halloween I was a football player. That's what I've always wanted to be.”While his father racked up enough catches in the NFL to earn 8 Pro Bowl selections, Duron was a regular at the Vikings training facility on the eve of games. The impressionable kid had wide eyes not for Dad (what son would?) but for the strutting swagger of Minnesota teammate Randy Moss.“I knew all the players. My favourite was Moss. Dad made the first downs but Randy Moss was out there making plays with one hand, touchdowns...that's Randy Moss,” the 22-year old Duron says with his face flashing like an adoring adolescent.Moss had more “swag” than famous father?Duron laughs out loud. “Yeah, definitely.Family pedigreeThere is no shortage of family football experience for Alouettes receiver Duron Carter to pull from. The son of pro football hall of famer Cris Carter and nephew of former NBA coach Butch Carter, grew up idolizing his father's teammate Randy Moss."Dad made the first downs but Randy Moss was out there making plays with one hand, touchdowns", he told CFL.ca's Rick Moffat.“Earlier in my career it was like...that's my Dad and it was in one ear and out the other. Now I recognize how much he knows about the game, how respected he is. So now I just sit back and listen.”Truth is Duron Carter also needed a brother figure. His father's Hall of Fame induction speech thanked his brother Butch, a former NBA player who went on to coach the Toronto Raptors. Duron thanks a brother-from-another-mother. “Dad made us work at Vikings camp...me and my brother Larry Fitzgerald. We worked as water boys together.“They must never have let a water bottle hit the ground. THAT Larry is the second-youngest man ever to reach 10,000 yards receiving in the NFL, and a 7-time Pro Bowl selection.“My Dad took care of him all through high school. Yeah, he used to babysit me.”Larry, 8 years older, figured he had an easy target for roughhousing and straight-arming.“He would try,Denver Broncos Jersey, but I'm faster than him,” Carter protests. “He beats me at everything else, but I'm faster than him.”“He's faster than his Dad and bigger than his Dad (who is only 6'3”, Duron listed at 6'5”),” says long-time agent Mitch Frankel, who represented Cris, Butch and now Duron. “He's matured as a person and has a great understanding because of his Dad. He's going to have an extraordinary career.”Frankel says another CFL team expressed interest in 2012. He wondered if Marc Trestman's Alouettes would be a healthy learning environment, but had no idea his client was already on Popp's negotiation list. Duron decided to stay in school.Carter's academic career was as zig-zag as a down-out-down route: Ohio State to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, a detour taken by dozens of NFL players and Heisman winner Mike Rozier, on to Alabama, where the Crimson Tide caught him violating team rules, though Duron did well academically. “I did a lot of personal research on him to know what he was about, where he'd been,” Popp explains. “He was at Alabama for a whole year practicing. I've got good ties there.”“Duron worked hard and the more I got to know about him I got to realize he's a very intelligent young man. Why school wasn't his thing I can't answer for you.” Carter could not get a waiver to play for Florida Atlantic University, but he returned to school anyway.He entered the NFL draft class of 2013 only to be ignored.After stints at Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints rookie camps this spring, Duron tells me he got a call from a friend trying to crack into the CFL with Hamilton. That acquaintance failed to make the cut in Steeltown, but sparked the connection that has helped rekindle the Als' offence.“I found out Montreal had my rights. Being one of the youngest dudes on the Alouettes, this was really just a year to come in and get experience, learn the system, but I'm happy to be playing and making plays,” says the instant deep threat who scored his first CFL touchdown at Molson Stadium Sunday against the Argos. Related Links Carter Brings Down 45-Yard Touchdown Bio: Duron Carter More Rick Moffat on the Alouettes “It means everything to have a home and these are my first games in about 3 years,” says the young man with what his agent calls 'untapped' talent. “I love Montreal, I love the team and having Coach Popp and Coach Berry trust me with the ball is just unbelievable.”“It's great having Tanner (only 23) in there being able to stretch the field. He's a great guy, real soft-spoken. To tell you the truth he didn't expect being in this position starting and neither did I.”“I talk to my Dad every day. He's my best friend. We got a great relationship and he gives me pointers, especially with me starting...staying calm and just getting a lot of experience.”Popp points out Duron also had football “home-schooling” with numerous pro athletes at his father's training facility, where he's worked out “so many times against great athletes.”“We found him a very interesting guy we felt could develop,” says Popp. “And he's proven that daily here. It's been an uphill battle for him, but he does have a great work ethic. He's very smart and he's maturing by the day.”Popp's also appreciated the private show of support from the Hall of Fame father. “Cris has been around – he was at the pre-season game in Toronto, he's been in Montreal, but he's never showed his face publicly. He's never tried to intermingle. He's let his son earn his own stamp on the field – on his own. He hasn't tried to push any issue.”Marsh is happy it worked out that way.“We've been together since rookie camp. You form a bond with him and get comfortable with him. I can look at a defence and know exactly where he's going to be. That's what's made this little connection. I have faith in him. I trust him to go make a play for me.”
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