Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bryan Illerbrun, dead. 

'79 Training Camp photo
Haven't seen Illie for many years but always asked the grapevine about him and always had a few chuckles. Now.....  lost for words.

A Saskatchewan boy from the soles of his nasty elephant feet to the split ends of his frizzled hair. As Prairie Province, as any guy, ever. 

"Tiny- The Boy Wonder", rural Ram. The Dancing Bear. Cantankerous and not exactly cuddly, Illie was  great- a rare piece of work. A TRUE BEAUTY. Part of the Junior Rams Three Hogsmen- Aldag, Poley and Illerbrun; who joined the Riders near the end of the 70's.

Not many like him before and don't recall any like him after.

Might tell a story about the time we shared accommodation in Calgary, but might not. Gotta ponder that awhile.

Really mean this. Not the usual half assed- what people think they are supposed to say, TRULY- heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

If I was a prayin' man, I'd surely get on my knees right now. But hurts too much. Am sure you understand Illie

To be perfectly honest, when another guy passed on not so long ago, I spit, symbolically on his grave.  Not now. Not this time. Surprised at the strength of  this enshrouding sadness. 

Heard you toned it down Illie. But it always felt right knowing you were out there. 

Alumni activity and connections must increase and strengthen!

Didn't know you were in a bad way. If so, hope you didn't suffer and, Compadre, hope you went out with your boots on. Tonight, we'll hoist a few in your honour.

Vaya Con Dios.... mi amigo.... ya crazy bastard ya

* this was a self indulgent entry about my response to the news. Will follow up with later with a story of Bryan Illerbrun, maybe.

Hawkins Retires
It's strange, what leaves an indelible imprint in the short circuits of the concussed motherboard and what doesn't.

When we read about Hawkins hanging 'em up, instantly, the image of him chasing down the BC quarterback from the backside with an incredible fast twitch burst and a punishing hit, flashed up on the front lobe screen. An image that's seared, it seems,  for the duration. Highest praise possible- from this podium-  don't pay attention much, to the wrong side of the line.

The rest of the details are fuzzy. Perhaps a kind reader can help fill in the blanks. It was a game at Mosaic, and wanna say it was one of his first starts. Hawkins terrorised BC that day. He made a huge difference in the outcome. Who he was up against or even who the BC quarterback was? Don't recall. But the vision of his extreme athleticism  and extreme effort, stuck-- apparently.

Damn shame, about, how it ended. Maybe you can only ride a smaller God-given skeletal structure; with utmost intense training, muscular development and desire-- so far. Bit of a high wire act. Certain body parts can get used up in a hurry and the whole thing topples.

The light truly shines from above, on those natural 4XL mammals who respond to activities like stretching "Why stretch? Ya can't pull fat!"

Hat's off to Hawkins. He did some amazing things. Unfortunate for all, that it ended too soon.

Now, the "Wild West Reality Regina Show" really begins. 

The Society wishes you the best of luck Mr. Hawkins. Enjoyed bearing witness to your sacrifice and offering.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Of Hogs and Shills.
Putting the "Oh!!!" in slooow moootion,  we missed the starter's mark, again. 

In the May 9th post, we promised to talk in this instalment about happenings on the Rider O-Line.  Looks like Rod Pederson, on Friday May 10th's Sportscage beat us to it...... kind of.

Sportscage May 10
Rod P: "The question I hear the most on the street is about the right offensive tackle position, and how comfortable the team is going in. Patrick Neufeld a the top of the depth chart there?"

Taman: "No question. I think if you look around the league.... Paddy really came into his own last year and that was basically his first year starting.... as everybody knows.... for him to do as well as he did as a first year starter.... I thought was  a very feather in his hat and in our hat cause he's a canadian kid.... so ya.... he's at the top of the depth chart and that's who we expect to have that position.... but he's gonna have to work to earn it have cause we're gonna have some Americans behind him.... pushing him.... and we have a team flexibility wise with the ratio.... where we could play two Americans if we had to.... I FULLY EXPECT PATRICK TO BE OUR GUY CAUSE I THINK HE'S A PRETTY GOOD PLAYER." 

Rod P: "Alright fans I asked the question a lot of ya had on your minds- the right tackle position-  and they feel they're in good hands with Patrick Neufeld, and I THOUGHT HE DID PERFORM VERY ADMIRABLY AS HE SAID IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF STARTING."

Shultz: "Well and thats the thing too he's that's only gonna drive him to bust his butt because as he knows they can go two americans there if they want  and Xavier over there is a stud and it's gonna push him, and  if he can up his play which everyone has to try to strive to do every year  he can get himself a real career goin' and I THINK HE DID A GREAT JOB LAST YEAR."


Today's topic- #53 OT Patrick Neufeld.

If you want the bright shiny, best practices (NFL marketing 101) package- stick with the main stream media shills. If that leaves you less than completely satisfied, right here's where you'll wanna be.  Expect a more in-depth, longer than a tweet, truthful Dilke-style analysis.

Shills often provide interesting and sometimes informative, though slanted, journalism. "CFL beat", shills seem the modern manifestation of  carnival midway barkers. 

Definition of SHILL
1 : One who makes a sales pitch or serves as a promoter.

Rod Pederson is good.  Very good, in fact. We largely enjoy his work, especially when teamed with Scott Shultz or Carm Carteri. Rod Black is bad. Pinch your nostrils between your thumb and forefinger bad, toxic actually. We do not enjoy his work.

Neither shills nor anti-shills, we kowtow to no one, but rather strive to report truthful observations according to the guidance based on THE WISDOM OF OUR ELDERS.

After listening to Friday's Sportscage, seemed appropriate to offer a counterbalance.
Let's start by setting the record straight. 

Someone once remarked, "you seem to know your stuff, you must've played".

The reply: "Closest I come to the pigskin was scrapin' a hog carcass hung by it's hind quarters after slaughter. But Betty, "from down the back lane", she got a lot closer than that. She figures, back in her salad days, she knew (in the biblical sense) most of the Hoggies who rooted around CFL gridirons for both the Green and White and throughout the league. 

I guess either through osmosis or sweet pillow talk, after gettin' her greasy hooves on most of the big boys in the league, she became something of an expert and noted authority on offensive line play and technique. Anything of value I offer comes straight from her. See, she's a demon with the smoke signals but when it comes to tryping, not so much.

Ballin' Betty, Back Door Betty, Betty The Bobber and so on, in her trademark white go-go boots, black tights and green halter top she left a large-scale swath. But don't get the wrong idea. To Betty, the promise of a night of lardish love was a weighty matter. She wouldn't unbolt the gate to the pigsty for just anyone. 

Had to be big. XXXL, XXXXL the bigger the better. See, Betty had an oddball fetish about getting smotherfucked so the butterball brigade suited her best. They didn't seem to mind either. 

Not that some of the slightish others didn't try. One plastered post game night at The Old Gold, The Wizard of Woz gave it his level best. No go. She said,”Woz, looked more like a banana in his yellow leisure suit than a big ol' boar with the sufficient mass to cover her fleshy needs”.

Stories! Oh my goodness, she's got tons of 'em. Some that would make a butcher blush.

I guess, most importantly, she keeps us dialed in with the happenings upfront on the O-line."


Back to today's topic #53 Patrick Neufeld. 

In the Sportscage and elsewhere, Taman and others direct attention to the fact it was his first year starting. It's a diversionary tactic and a red herring, though a good brand polishing of a homegrown to the target market. 

Here's the deal.

Last season he was thrown into the fire lacking sufficient strength, fundamentals and
technical skill. For the first chunk of games he was an extreme liability. Situations like this do happen in the CFL. A few non-import injuries and the rob Peter to pay Paul show begins as the coaches chance the best available combination they figure gives 'em the highest probability shot to win.

Jump to now. 

In order to play at a level close to the interior guys, this off season he would've had to dramatically increase his overall strength as well as develop sound footwork patterns and body position muscle memory. No small chore. Until he's upped his capabilities, the improvement ceiling, from just playing, is very low. 

We truly hope he accomplished the mission. Like Shultz said, "if he can up his play he can get himself a real career goin'". Having a non-import who can effectively play offensive tackle is a huge positive.

So, it's a wait and see situation. The burden of proof rests on Neufeld's shoulders. 

Now, lets get the scalpel out and carve into more detail.

To effectively play the Offensive Tackle position in the CFL, an athlete must possess the prerequisite physical, athletic and technical skills. Then the intangibles come in- like focus, intelligence, tenacity, desire, knowledge, etc.

It appeared last season that, for whatever reason,  Neufeld hadn't previously been exposed to proper O-Line technique. He had the necessary size and adequate athleticism but lacking the previously mentioned attributes he was placed in an extreme and challenging situation. More daunting for Durant, no doubt.

Inserted in as a starter, last season without being ready, he did improve. From being an extreme liability to being a barely adequate weak link. Might not sound good to you but it was actually quite an accomplishment. Neufeld showed mental strength, determination and courage. He didn't tank, he hung in there, kept competing, getting coached and got better.

In his first three starts the OC largely abandoned a significant chunk of the offensive package. During that period the offense mostly avoided operating out of the 7 step drop protection. Nearly impossible to achieve the production required to win without utilizing the number one component of a CFL offense.

His footwork so compromised his base in 7 step protection he was a time bomb. It did influence the outcome of one game in particular with a, late game, QB forced fumble.

The fact he did improve is a testament to him and to Coach Sweet and Coach Goodspeed. Cannot stress strongly enough- how difficult it is to take a raw guy and improve technique and fundamentals during a CFL season. All available time and energy is devoted to preparing for the next game. Little time or energy left  for working on technique and fundamentals. The pass sets and footwork has to come from muscle memory when game speed and intensity demands it. Muscle memory requires a great body of work to develop.

They came up with an effective 65% solution. Whereby he got his body to the anticipated intersection point with the defender's rush and regained a base at that point. While better than a turnstile it was still fraught with vulnerabilities. For example exposed to an inside power move.

What gets lost in the critique is that some fans perceive this as a personal attack on the player. It isn't. If anything it's an example of a player who rises through certain ranks and is thrown into the centre stage bright lights without the necessary tools.

"Elmer you're full of crap because that's not what Taman, Rod P. or Shultz said".

Back to the Sportscage. 

Taman said......... What else is he going to say? Good job on his part selling hope and the product. Do however, pay attention to his mention of the two import alternative.

Rod said.......... based on what? Based on what someone told him and what is convenient to the sales pitch. 

Schultz had no choice but to get on board but does couch his statement with the fact much improvement is required. By the way, the Society thinks Schulz's act is "CACHE" with a CAPITAL A!  Very talented natural entertainer. Baffled, that TSN hasn't pounced? 

"Dwayne Ford vs Shultz? Suitor vs Shultz? Climie vs Shultz?  Dunnigan vs Shultz? Steagal vs Shultz? Shultz vs Shultz? 

We're going Shultz undefeated!

Back to #53. 

As with all players on the roster it's the same with Neufeld. Wait and see what happens when training camp starts and again, when the bright lights come on.

Seriously pondered joining the Football Writers of Canada. 

Then Annette Funicello died...... Gutted! 

Thought better to re-up with The Mickey Mouse Club. 

That's what Annette would've wanted.

In tribute to dear sweet Annette.