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Schultz: Observations from the opening week in the CFL

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Chris Schultz
6/30/2013 2:55:07 PM
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Two games were blowouts and two games were competitive as eight teams began the quest for the 101st Grey Cup ring.

In the West, how amazingly impressive was Calgary beating BC 44-32? And how dominant was Saskatchewan rollong over Edmonton 39-18.

For Calgary, two individual players and one group of players stood out all game for me. Quarterback Drew Tate separated himself from both Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell. That's significant because if Tate had not performed well, then the conversation would started about how he never will. But he did, so that conversation is over (for a few weeks anyway).

The second individual player that was exceptional to me was Charleston Hughes at defensive end. Sometimes a player has a good game because the competition is average at best but much of Hughes' success was against Javon 0lafioye at right tackle. Make no mistake, #63 for BC is one of the best and Hughes make him look average.

The group of players that were outstanding was the offensive line. Yes, credit Jon Cornish as he separated himself from Andrew Harris but Calgary started a rookie centre in Brett Jones from Regina and Dan Federkeil at right tackle, who had been out of football for three years. Both were excellent.

With Saskatchewan, the opening two drives were touchdowns. Now I know it is early but you have to think that George Cortez did a phenomenal job of preparation as the Riders were ready and Edmonton was not. John Chick will be a presence all year and linebacker Craig Butler looked like he was in the zone, so to speak.

Now the negative is, and I am speaking for myself but Dwight Anderson and his temper tantrums are getting old. I understand the emotion of football at a high level but I also understand losing control is embarrassing to not only the player, but the organization, too. Yet , the Riders were exceptional.

Earlier in the week, the Montreal-Winnipeg game was taken over by the Alouettes in the fourth quarter. Not sure what conclusions to make about Winnipeg yet but Montreal did control the game defensively, allowing only 296 yards. Favorite moment was Jade Etienne, who had only one catch last year had three in this game, one with an excellent run after catch. Nothing is more important in football than making a contribution as that is how you stay on the team and Etienne did.

Finally, Toronto beat Hamilton but maybe not the way many expected. Henry Burris to Andy Fantuz stole the show and credit Kent Austin for coaching Burris into one of his best games ever. This was a Grey Cup team being taken to the last play by a rebuilding team that did not make the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, Toronto won and deserved to win and were well prepared. A six-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to open the game, that is well prepared. But if, I know it is a big if, Hamilton improves defensively, they could be competitive with anybody. Defensive coordinator 0rlondo Steinauer will figure it out; too intelligent and too good of a football background not to.

Talk next week with more thoughts, observations and maybe a conclusion.

Drew Tate (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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