Andrew Bucholtz

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

  • Chad Johnson’s fitting in well in Montreal—except for those pesky parking tickets

    Chad Johnson (85)'s CFL career has gone just fine so far, apart from the parking tickets.When former NFL star Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson first started talking about trying the CFL after a couple of years out of football earlier this offseason, the potential for it to work out poorly seemed high. After all, Johnson turned 36 in January, was headed to a team incredibly deep at receiver, was anything but used to being a depth player, had to learn the Canadian game from scratch and had been known for problematic behaviour on and off the field. So far, though, he's mostly fit in well with the team and with media and fans. Fitting in in Montreal can be a little more challenging, though, especially for someone who doesn't speak French. Johnson says that's what's led to him piling up 15 parking tickets. Here's a photo of those he tweeted Monday:

    Chad Johnson tweeted this photo of his parking tickets Monday.

    So, what has Johnson done about his parking ticket issues? Tweet the mayor, of course:

    Read More »from Chad Johnson’s fitting in well in Montreal—except for those pesky parking tickets
  • Ryan Phillips and the Lions couldn't bring down Eric Deslauriers and the Als Friday in a 24-9 loss. Phillips has since accused Montreal of running up the score.It's not surprising to see accusations of running up the score levied this week, but it's hilarious to see them brought up against a team that won 24-9. That's right; complaints haven't yet been heard from Kuwait about their 91-0 loss to Canada, or from Saskatchewan about their 48-15 loss to Toronto, but some of the B.C. Lions are up in arms after losing by 15 points to Montreal Friday. Via Lowell Ullrich of The Province, here's what DB Ryan Phillips said:

    Ryan Phillips thought about it for awhile and agreed if the tables were turned, his team might have done the same thing, but the veteran Lions defensive back ultimately concluded the Als were guilty of trying to run up the score in the rout.

    Second-year Als quarterback Troy Smith was in kneel-down mode at the end, but Phillips contended Montreal tried to convert drives on third down too often.

    Phillips also took issue with a deep pass attempt to S.J. Green that was both figuratively and literally out of bounds.

    "You're already up by two full scores, and you're still throwing deep balls? You have no choice but to take it as disrespect. They were trying to embarrass us," Phillips said.

    "I can't blame them. But in a couple of weeks, I don't care if we're up by 40 points, let's go for the embarrassment. If you're going to be throwing deep balls with your starting quarterback late in the game, we might as well keep blitzing and go ahead and knock his head off."

    First off, setting aside how silly most of the "running up the score" debates are in general, it's completely ludicrous to bring them up after a 15-point loss in this league. There's an oft-used CFL motto of #NoLeadIsSafe for a reason (in a league analysis a while back, 68 per cent of games were decided in the last three minutes), and while the Lions were completely outplayed against the Alouettes and unlikely to make a comeback, 15 points is only a two-score deficit (two touchdowns with at least one two-point conversion). We've seen plenty of comebacks from those kinds of deficits inside the final three minutes, so it's not like Montreal had an insurmountable lead. Moreover, it's not like the Alouettes were piling on the points late; they scored 20 in the first half, none in the third quarter and only four in the fourth quarter. As noted in the story, they even knelt down at the end. Accusing them of running up the score is ridiculous.

    Read More »from Lions’ DB Ryan Phillips accuses Alouettes of “running up the score” in a 24-9 game
  • Canada beats Kuwait 91-0 at IFAF U-19s: growing pains of growing the game

    Gridiron football's becoming more and more of a global game, but trying to introduce the sport to new countries carries growing pains. That was shown Monday at the International Federation of American Football U-19 World Championships in Kuwait, where the Canadian team beat the hosts 91-0, sparking plenty of Twitter commentary:

    Jokes aside, though, there's more to this than meets the eye. For starters, Kuwait was playing in their first-ever international tournament, so it's not all that surprising that they struggled. By contrast, Canada's found plenty of success on the international stage, including a run to the final and a silver medal at the senior IFAF World Championships in 2011 and a gold medal at the last edition of the U-19 IFAF World Championships in 2012. There's tons of Canadian talent out there, and the pool's deepening all the time, as shown by this team. The roster's full of impressive players, including 10 already committed to CIS schools.

    Read More »from Canada beats Kuwait 91-0 at IFAF U-19s: growing pains of growing the game
  • As this July 7 photo shows, Tim Hortons Field is nowhere near ready. (Sean Fitz-Gerald photo/National Post.)The Hamilton Tiger-Cats' return to their stadium will be delayed. The team hasn't played a game on the site of the old Ivor Wynne Stadium since October 2012, spending all of 2013 at a temporary stadium in Guelph while construction on the new Tim Hortons Field proceeded, and construction still isn't complete. The CFL built in tons of leeway in the schedule, not giving the Tiger-Cats a home game until Week Five, but that still proved to not be enough, as the team announced Monday that they will host their first two home games (on July 26 and July 31) at McMaster University's Ron Joyce Stadium. From their statement:

    The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced today that due to construction delays at Tim Hortons Field, the team will host its first two home games – July 26 vs. Ottawa and July 31 vs. Winnipeg – at McMaster University’s Ron Joyce Stadium.

    “Today’s meeting with Toronto 2015, Infrastructure Ontario, ONSS and the City of Hamilton has made it clear that it would not be possible to safely deliver a game experience that would meet our standards within the current timeframe. As a result, we will now host our first two home games at Ron Joyce Stadium. After holding our home pre-season game on campus last month, we know that we can deliver an outstanding entertainment experience at McMaster. In the coming weeks, we will have greater certainty regarding our August 16 game, but the builders remain adamant that Tim Hortons Field will be ready no later than Labour Day,” said CEO Scott Mitchell.

    “While we are disappointed our fans will have to wait to visit our incredible new stadium, we know the world-class experience provided at Tim Hortons Field will exceed everyone’s expectations when it is complete.”

    Fans that have purchased tickets to these games will be issued a credit or refund for the full value of each game. Details about the games at McMaster will be released tomorrow.

    That's not all that surprising given recent developments. In late June, construction was reported to be over three months behind schedule, and although the team bravely talked of construction contractors working around the clock to ensure at least a functional stadium (but no scoreboard, few amenities, etc) that would allow them to play there on July 26, that seemed optimistic given reports from the site. Sean Fitz-Gerald of The National Post went to the new stadium Monday, and his photos show a building that's still nowhere close to ready:

    Read More »from Ticats announce Tim Hortons Field won’t be ready, first games will be at McMaster University
  • Slotback Andre Durie will be out for six weeks, which could test Toronto's Canadian depth.At 18 games, the CFL regular season is a long grind that frequently tests teams' depth, and that depth may be most important for Canadian players. Teams are mandated to start seven Canadians (or "nationals") and have at least 21 on their 44-man active roster, and while the level of Canadian football talent is consistently on the rise (to the point that four Canadian-born players were taken in this year's NFL draft and the CFL's top player last year was Canadian RB Jon Cornish), those starting slots in particular can be challenging to fill when top players go down. Two of the league's teams are facing that issue as of Monday, thanks to the news that Toronto Argonauts' slotback Andre Durie (our Canadian star of the week) has broken his clavicle and will be out at least six weeks and that Edmonton Eskimos' defensive tackle Don Oramasionwu is out for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee. The Argonauts have also lost Canadian middle linebacker Shea Emry to a concussion, and while that may not knock him out for quite as much time, his previous concussion history suggests his absence could be a substantial one as well. How will Toronto and Edmonton replace their lost players?

    Read More »from Canadians Andre Durie, Don Oramasionwu and Shea Emry injured, testing their teams’ depth
  • Three Stars: Ricky Ray, John Bowman and Demond Washington lead Week Two’s cast

    Ricky Ray led the Argonauts over the Riders this week and earned a first star nod along the way.It's time for another edition in our Three Stars series, looking at the week's top offensive, defensive, special teams and Canadian performers. Here are the selections for Week Two.

    First star/offensive player of the week: Ricky Ray, quarterback, Toronto Argonauts: Ray was dazzling this week in a 48-15 thumping of Saskatchewan, completing 78 per cent of his passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The Sacramento State product played well in the Argos' Week One loss too, so the win was about largely teammates stepping up around him (especially on defence), but Ray's elevation of his own game was also crucial. If he can keep this level of play up and stay healthy, he might be the favourite to be named the league's Most Outstanding Player this season.

    (Honourable mentions: Chad Owens, SB, Toronto; Nic Grigsby, RB, Winnipeg; Brandon Whitaker, RB, Montreal.)

    Second star/defensive player of the week: John Bowman, defensive end, Montreal Alouettes: The Alouettes' five quarterback sacks were crucial to their 24-9 win over B.C. Friday, and Bowman had an amazing four of those. That's one of the best individual defensive performances you'll ever see in a single game. Bowman had a total of five tackles, too, and he also consistently put pressure on B.C. quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and John Beck, part of why they only combined for 187 passing yards. The 31-year-old defensive end out of Wingate University has been with the Alouettes since 2006, earning three divisional all-star nods and a league all-star nod along the way, and he could be in line for more accolades with showings like this.

    (Honourable mentions: Antwaun Molden, LB, Toronto; Simoni Lawrence, LB, Hamilton; Greg Peach, DE, Winnipeg.)

    Read More »from Three Stars: Ricky Ray, John Bowman and Demond Washington lead Week Two’s cast
  • Dwight Anderson was key to Saskatchewan's West Final win last year, but was traded to Toronto Monday.Dwight Anderson, one of the CFL's most fascinating and controversial players, will be taking his talents to yet another new city. The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced Monday that they'd shipped Anderson out, with a one-sentence release saying just "The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have traded international defensive back Dwight Anderson to the Toronto Argonauts in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2015 CFL Canadian Draft." It's pretty remarkable to see a trade after just two weeks of the CFL season, and it's even more remarkable to see a four-time division all-star and one-time league all-star who was crucial to Saskatchewan's playoff run last year shipped off for a conditional draft pick. It's easy to understand why Toronto general manager Jim Barker pulled the trigger here, as his comments about Anderson are all very positive:

    Commented Argonauts General Manager Jim Barker, “Dwight Anderson is a veteran player who can help our team immediately. He’s a competitor who has won two Grey Cup championships and has been recognized as an all-star on multiple occasions in our league. Coach Milanovich and I have both coached on teams that Dwight has played for, and we’re happy to welcome him to Toronto.”

    It's a little tougher to understand this from Saskatchewan's side. Yes, the Roughriders were just beaten 48-15 by the Argonauts on Saturday, and yes, Anderson didn't look good in that game, but the entire Roughriders' secondary had problems against Toronto, allowing Ricky Ray to complete 78 per cent of his passes and throw for 407 yards and three touchdowns. However, a trade this soon would seem like an overreaction if it was only about Anderson's play in this game. That may not be the case, however.

    Read More »from Argos trade for Roughriders’ DB Dwight Anderson: will they get an all-star, or a problem?
  • Ricky Ray and the Argonauts soar against Saskatchewan, swamping the Riders 48-15

    Ricky Ray led the Argos Saturday, but his teammates also stepped up in a big way.What do you do when your high-expectations team, coming off a season where they had the best record in the East Division and hosted the East Final, falls 45-21 to last year's cellar-dwellers in their opener? Go out and beat the reigning Grey Cup champions 48-15, obviously. Saturday's home win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders marked a heck of a rebound from the Toronto Argonauts, and one that suggests they could be in for the great year many expected after all.

    Interestingly, the star of this showing was one of the few players who did perform well in the opener against Winnipeg, quarterback Ricky Ray. Ray completed 27 of 38 passes (71.1 per cent) for 283 yards and two touchdowns without an interception against the Bombers, and he was even better against the Roughriders Saturday, completing 29 of 37 attempts (78.4 per cent) for 407 yards and three touchdowns without a pick. His dissection of the Riders' defence (which itself looked incredible in a 31-10 home win over Hamilton last week) was superb, and it involved him hitting multiple receivers; Chad Owens led the way with 159 receiving yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, but Andre Durie had five receptions for 77 yards, Jason Barnes had four for 39 yards and a touchdown, Spencer Watt had three for 53 and John Chiles collected 46 yards on two catches. That ability to quickly analyze defensive coverage and spot the open receiver is a key part of what's made Ray such an accurate and dominant CFL passer, and it showed Saturday.

    Read More »from Ricky Ray and the Argonauts soar against Saskatchewan, swamping the Riders 48-15
  • Chip Cox finished off a great pick-and-lateral play in Montreal's win Friday.Turnovers that lead directly to scoring plays are unusual enough, such as Edmonton Eskimos' cornerback Patrick Watkins' forced fumble, return and touchdown Friday night, but what's even more amazing is when the defence makes a pass of its own off a turnover. That's what happened in the Montreal Alouettes' 24-9 win over B.C. Friday afternoon though, with Montreal defensive tackle Scott Paxson picking off Kevin Glenn, then lateralling to linebacker Chip Cox for an Alouettes' touchdown:

    That's impressive awareness from Paxson, as most players' first reaction after an interception is just to run as far as they can. Paxson saw defenders closing on him, though, and noticed the smaller and faster Cox was open, which led to an easy Montreal touchdown. A lateral like this does carry some risks, as if Cox had missed or dropped it, B.C. might have recovered themselves, but with the amount of space he had, that wasn't a particularly bad chance to take. Cox is well-known for his good hands, too; he's had 20 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries over his career, and has produced six touchdowns from those opportunities. He's speedy as well, and actually competed in track as well as football at Ohio University.

    Read More »from Video: Unusual pick-and-lateral led to a big Alouettes’ touchdown, but not by a big man
  • Eskimos' head coach Chris Jones (seen June 28) might have improved his team's chances with a third-down gamble Friday (Darryl Dyck photo/The Canadian Press.)Friday night's CFL game between the Edmonton Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats was perhaps the most thrilling of the season so far, featuring plenty of back-and-forth play, lead changes, and even a final drive that saw Hamilton stopped inside the five-yard line. However, with one different decision from Edmonton head coach Chris Jones, the Eskimos might have won this one much more comfortably. On Edmonton's final drive, with his team up 25-24 and the ball on the Tiger-Cats' eight-yard line, Jones elected to kick a 15-yard field goal when facing a third-and-inches. That led to Hamilton getting the ball back on their own 35 with a chance to win, and they made it inside the Eskimos' five before being stopped. Kicking the field goal worked out in the end, but going for it might have been the smarter move.

    The argument for the field goal is that doing so meant Hamilton needed a touchdown to win instead of a field goal, and that's a valid point. However, there were only 48 seconds left when Edmonton kicked the field goal. If the Eskimos had gone for the first down instead and succeeded, that should have let them kill the remaining clock with kneeldowns. (There's a 20-second play clock in the CFL, and the clock should start when the ball's ready to be snapped when the previous play was a run or a completed pass. If Hamilton had had two timeouts remaining, they could have gotten the ball back even after an Edmonton first down, but they had already used at least one, so kneeldowns should have killed it.) Both moves in this situation carry a pretty good chance of winning for Edmonton, of course, but it seems quite likely their chances might have been even better with a more aggressive third-down approach.

    Read More »from The Eskimos’ decision to kick a field goal on third-and-inches almost came back to bite them

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