Andrew Bucholtz

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Andrew Bucholtz is a Canadian football blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Riders' "flannel-free facility": funny trolling, hopefully not a serious policy

    After starting the season 0-3, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping to turn things around against the Ottawa Redblacks Friday night, and they're perhaps targeting even a bigger home-field advantage than normal. Redblacks' fans are known for wearing flannel shirts in red-and-black plaid, so that explains this addition to the usual Mosiac Stadium signage that the Riders' Twitter account posted:

    This is pretty good as far as CFL trolling goes, and it's certainly a step up from efforts such as the Eskimos' 2014 "horrible human beings" ads and at least on par with the various billboard wars we've seen over the years. Let's hope it's not something the team actually tries to enforce, though; opposing fans should always be welcome at CFL games in whatever apparel they want to wear. Also, if anyone cracked down on that, it would hurt the Roughriders more than anyone else, as they tend to have the largest away fan presence throughout the league). So, this is solid trolling, but it shouldn't be a policy (and hopefully it won't be; the Riders' tweet makes it seem like this is just a joke). It could be a dangerous policy, too; flannel is a Canadian symbol, not just a Redblacks' one, and we don't want to see any anti-#hoserism efforts here.

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  • What do the Blue Bombers do now?

    It's been a miserable 2016 season so far for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who fell to 1-4 with a 33-18 home loss to Calgary Thursday night. That's despite an offseason that filled many Bomber fans with hope, too, thanks to some big free-agent signings and other roster improvements. The worst part for Winnipeg is that there may not be any clear solutions. This loss illustrated their many issues, but didn't suggest a lot of ways to fix them.

    The biggest issue for the Bombers is still the offence, and it didn't show a lot of progress here. Drew Willy completed 23 of his 33 passes on the night (69.7 per cent), but only threw for 234 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was eventually pulled for Matt Nichols, who wasn't much better, completing nine of 15 passes (60.0 per cent) for 88 yards, albeit with a touchdown. The ground game was also missing in action again, with Andrew Harris collecting just 28 yards on 10 carries. A 2.8 yards per carry average simply isn't going to cut it in this league.

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  • Video: Snoop Dogg records himself watching a CFL game, being confused by rules

    Rapper Snoop Dogg (Calvin Broadus) has been involved with plenty of football things over the years, from running and coaching in his youth football league (which has produced players like Broncos' RB Ronnie Hillman) to his adidas money cleats to his planned rap collaboration with Steelers' RB Le'Veon Bell, but it seems he hasn't really come across the CFL before. He recorded himself watching last Friday's CFL game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes, saying he didn't get the rule differences, and saying he wanted to try out for the league.  (Language warning.)

    "Long-ass field, go in motion any way you want to go, and check the score, it's 4-0." Maybe that will be the foundation for a new rap track about the CFL, one of the only football leagues where that isn't an unusual score (from a field goal and a rouge). It's curious that Snoop stumbled on this particular game, though; it seems he may have been in Canada, as this was only shown on ESPN3 (streaming) in the U.S., and it takes a little more effort to get a streaming feed to a TV. (Update: Yep, he was in B.C. for Pemberton Fest.) He also didn't pick a great first CFL game to watch, as Hamilton's 31-7 beatdown of Montreal might have been one of the poorest displays of offence on both sides in years.

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  • The Edmonton Eskimos are hosting a pregame Pokemon Go event Saturday

    Pokemon Go is sweeping the world, and the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos are getting in on the action with a unique pre-game promotion for their game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday. The team announced on Facebook that they're encouraging fans to come early and spend time before the game (set to start at 7 p.m. Eastern) collecting Pokemon, with the team even setting off lures to facilitate that. Here are the details:

    Do you want to be the very best, like no one ever was?

    During the pregame on Saturday we'll be encouraging fans to walk around the concourse and bowl looking for Pokemon. With the free TELUS wifi saving your data, the hundreds of trainers that will be there, and the fact we'll be setting off lures inside the Stadium -- you're sure to add to your Pokedex.

    Pokemon trainers will need a ticket to the Esks vs T-Cats game to participate, but your game ticket still gets you an awesome football game, a halftime show with Flo Rida, and free entry into K-Days on July 23rd. Tickets start at just $30:

    This seems like a great idea by the Eskimos, a way to tap into some of the enthusiasm around Pokemon Go and potentially attract more of the young and technology-savvy fans the CFL's always seeking. Doing it before the game also should have the benefit of getting more fans in early and spreading out some of the usual pre-game lines. The team's Twitter account's getting in on the fun, too, tweeting a photo of Snorlax at practice:

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  • 12 Audibles: The Lions' surprising roar

    Welcome to another edition of 12 Audibles, our weekly analysis of stories around the CFL. This time around, we start off with the season's biggest surprise so far...

    1. The B.C. Lions. Heading into this season, the Lions looked like the weakest team in the CFL's West Division, and I predicted them to go 6-12. So far, they're 3-1 and on top of the division. How is that possible? Well, the biggest part of the story so far has been the defence. Through four weeks, they're allowing the least points per game (18.3), the least touchdowns (5), and the second-least yards per game (316.0). They're giving away the lowest plays from scrimmage per game (52.0), the lowest completion percentage (64.5 per cent) and the least first downs per game (18.0), which says a lot about how quickly they're getting off the field, and they're also conceding the third-least yards per play (6.1), the third-lowest rushing yards per game (60.5), and the second-lowest passing yards per game (278.8). Moreover, they're recording the third-most sacks (3.5 per game).

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  • Injuries to Durant, LaBatte, Chambers and Cox could add to Riders' issues

    The Saskatchewan Roughriders' 40-27 loss to the B.C. Lions Saturday night to fall to 0-3 would be concerning enough in its own right, but it gets even more worrisome when you throw in the injuries. Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant, offensive guard Brendon LaBatte, wide receiver Shamawd Chambers and cornerback Justin Cox all left the game with injuries, and while the severity of any of those wasn't known Sunday morning, they all have the potential to drag this team down further if serious. Even if the Riders do get all of those players back quickly, though, Saturday's loss shows they still have plenty of issues to address.

    One of the biggest concerns going forward will be the health of Durant and what that means for the Saskatchewan passing offence. Durant was effective while he played Saturday, completing seven of 10 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, but then left the game early in the second quarter shortly after taking a low hit from B.C. defensive lineman Mic'hael Brooks, and stood on crutches on the sideline. He did tweet after the game that X-rays came out negative:

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  • Ticats snack on depleted Alouettes in 31-7 win, still have work to do

    Friday's game in Montreal started out poorly for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who trailed 3-0 after the first and only led the Alouettes 5-4 at the half thanks to a late safety and a 56-yard field goal at the buzzer. However, things got much better for them after the break, as they put up 14 third-quarter points and 12 in the final frame while holding Montreal to just three, giving them a dominant 31-7 win (in an ugly game that many probably wish they hadn't watched) and improving their record to 2-2. That final score shouldn't indicate that all of the Tiger-Cats' issues we've seen in their losses over the past two past two weeks are magically solved, especially considering how many key pieces the Alouettes were missing, but it is an important win for Hamilton, and one that feels like progress.

    This was a particularly good showing from the Tiger-Cats' defence, and one they accomplished despite being hung out to dry by the offence in the first half. They got plenty of pressure on Montreal quarterbacks Rakeem Cato and Vernon Adams Jr., recording eight sacks on the night, and they also limited the run, holding Brandon Rutley to just 29 yards on 10 carries. They covered well downfield, too, holding Cato to 203 passing yards and Adams to 35. Adrian Tracy (11 tackles, two sacks), John Chick (three tackles, two sacks), Simoni Lawrence (five tackles and a sack), and Ted Laurent (three tackles and a sack) all particularly stood out, but this was a solid group effort. The Hamilton defence was okay even in losses to B.C. and Winnipeg, allowing just 28 points in both of those games despite being left on the field by the offence, but it was much better than okay Friday night, and that speaks well for both the talent they have and the work of defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer in putting his players in positions to succeed.

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  • Photo: Commonwealth Stadium flooded during Edmonton storm

    It's probably a good thing that the Edmonton Eskimos were on the road this week. While they pulled off a 20-16 win in nice weather conditions in Winnipeg Thursday night, the severe thunderstorm that hit Edmonton Friday has made a significant impact on their typical playing surface, The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Here's a photo Eskimos' president Len Rhodes tweeted of the field Friday:

    The Eskimos don't have a home game until Saturday, July 23 against Hamilton, so there should be plenty of time to sort this out, and there haven't been too many reports of flooding causing major damage at Commonwealth recently (unlike what we saw in Winnipeg in 2014), so this isn't necessarily a big concern for the CFL right now. There have been plenty of unusual weather games in this league before, though, from rain to snow to fog and ice, and we may get more as the year rolls on.

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  • Much-maligned Eskimos' defence comes up huge to stop Bombers in 20-16 win

    Through their first two games, the Edmonton Eskimos' defence struggled, allowing 40.5 points and a league-leading 459 yards per game. Granted, both of those games went to overtime, but those numbers still weren't good, and they had plenty of people talking about the issues with their defence heading into Thursday's game on the road in Winnipeg. The Eskimos found a way to get their defence back on track, though, and it was huge in their 20-16 win over the Blue Bombers, especially on the final drive.

    That final drive inside the final two minutes was a masterpiece of defensive strategy from Edmonton defensive coordinator Mike Benevides, who regularly dropped eight and nine players into coverage and blanketed Winnipeg's receivers down the field and towards the sidelines. As a result, Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy opted to take the underneath throws and gradually move the chains, but the Eskimos did a great job of coming up to tackle quickly and force second and third downs with time ticking off the clock. (Yes,  the Bombers could have done much better on their side too, but that doesn't diminish the defensive performance.) When Winnipeg eventually ran out of time and had to throw deep, Edmonton safety Neil King was there to make the game-sealing interception, giving the Eskimos the win and also providing some vindication for their defence.

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  • Video: Adarius Bowman makes one of the year's best catches in double coverage

    The Edmonton Eskimos got off to a rocky start in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers Thursday night, trailing 10-0 early in the second quarter, but they pulled back within three points at the half. Part of that was thanks to an incredible 60-yard catch in double coverage from veteran slotback Adarius Bowman, one of the best catches of the season so far. Here's that play:

    What's remarkable here is the altitude Bowman's able to gain and how he's able to use his body to shield the ball from both defenders, going up to grab the long pass from quarterback Mike Reilly while draped all over one defender and having another hit him from behind. It's a terrific catch, and yet more proof of how good Bowman is: he had three touchdowns and 140 yards last week against Saskatchewan, and he's recorded 1,456 and 1,304 receiving yards the last two seasons.

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