CFL notes: Cortez blew it

Hamilton Tiger-Cats new head coach George Cortez looks on from the sideline during the first half...

Hamilton Tiger-Cats new head coach George Cortez looks on from the sideline during the first half of their CFL football game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Hamilton, June 29, 2012. (REUTERS)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:02 PM ET

Former CFL boss Dave Ritchie always used to say a team would lose one game for every rookie on the roster.

Wonder if that applies to rookie coaches as well? That's because Ticats first-year sideline sergeant George Cortez made a boo-boo Friday night in his team's season-opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders were leading 7-6 when Weston Dressler caught a pass that clearly touched the turf. It ended up being a 52-yard reception that led to a Saskatchewan touchdown and a 14-6 lead that eventually became a 43-16 beatdown.

Cortez couldn't see it because Dressler's back was to him and his spotters were unable to watch it on replay before Saskatchewan snapped the ball on the next play.

The fact it went for 52 yards and was somewhat in doubt should have had that challenge flag flying out of Cortez's pocket. Don't be surprised to see Cortez flinging his yellow hanky quite a bit in the next few weeks after that error.

STEGALL STILL KING

Geroy Simon became the CFL's career receiving yards leader Friday night with a fourth-quarter catch against the Bombers.

But does the record make him the greatest receiver in league history?

Not quite.

Simon's achievement is remarkable, that's for sure, and the Lions star is in the conversation when it comes to the league best pass-catchers. But that's as far as it goes.

Milt Stegall, who owned the yardage record until Friday night, is still the receiver you'd want starting over anyone else, and that includes former Stamps star Allen Pitts. Stegall, who spent his entire career with the Blue Bombers, not only caught more than 15,000 yards worth of passes, but he made them count. His record of 144 receiving touchdowns is a mark that is unlikely to be broken.

Covering a lot of ground through the air is one thing, but catching them for six points is even greater. That's why Stegall is still the receiving king.

INEXPERIENCE HURTS BOMBERS

Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice made a questionable decision Friday in Vancouver after it learning left tackle Glenn January would be unable to play due to a leg injury.

Instead of sliding right guard Steve Morley, who played in the NFL, out to tackle, LaPolice decided to start two tackles -- Paul Swiston and Jordan Taormina, both of whom were playing their first professional game.

The Lions ended up with four sacks and a hit on Buck Pierce that knocked him out of the game just before half time.

The problem with moving Morley to tackle was the Bombers new centre, Chris Kowalczuk, was appearing in his first pro game as well. So the coaching staff probably wanted a veteran next to the man making the line calls.

If that wasn't enough inexperience, left guard Chris Greaves was starting just his fourth career game.

January is probable to play this week in Montreal, but regular right tackle Andre Douglas remains out with a hip injury. Until everyone on the offensive line gets healthy, the Bombers are in tough.

WILLIS TRADE SIGNIFICANT 

Everyone is talking about Saskatchewan's offensive outburst against Hamilton in Week 1, but just as important was its defensive effort.

That's why Winnipeg's trading of defensive end Odell Willis to Saskatchewan could end up being one of the most significant moves of the CFL off-season.

He was kept off the stat sheet against the Ticats, but Willis pressured quarterback Henry Burris a couple of times. His presence was enough to make the Tabbies think about him.

The return of Rob Bagg to the Riders offence will help Darian Durant, and running back Kory Sheets, who had a 6.7-yard average on 12 carries, looks to be a keeper.

But it's on defence where the Riders will need to improve if they're going to get back to the post-season and Willis will be a big part of it ... if it happens. Allowing 16 points against the Tabbies was a good first step.

 


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