Offence starts in the trenches

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

It takes only one look through the stats or a brief YouTube perusal to realize the CFL has kicked off an offensive resurgence this season.

The quarterback play is uniformly good, the running backs are hitting holes and fighting to continue plays, and the receivers have stepped up with about a dozen candidates for post-season top-10 highlight clips.

Just in Week 3 alone there were breathtaking grabs by Toronto's Arland Bruce against the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg's Derick Armstrong against the B.C. Lions.

But one main reason for a possible new age of offensive football is outstanding line play across the loop, and it has to be considered unexpected. Rookies are making an impact in Calgary (Dimitri Tsoumpas and Jesse Newman), B.C. (Walter Stith) and Edmonton (Calvin Armstrong), while the league said goodbye to a few veterans.

While scoring is up about a touchdown (50.1 combined points per game from 44.6 last year), quarterback sacks have dropped from 4.6 per game to 4.0. Blue Bombers coach Doug Berry said it best at halftime of his team's loss to the Lions. Winnipeg was badly losing the line of scrimmage and were beaten up because of it. Losing two starters on the offensive line (Matt Sheridan and Dominic Picard) has contributed greatly to the Bombers' 0-3 record.

OPENING DRIVE

It's outstanding to see the Tiger-Cats have figured out things on offence, but at some point QB Casey Printers has to throw a TD pass. He has thrown just one since returning to the league and none this year. The Ticats can take solace their run game helped them avoid having any two-and-outs against the Riders ... For as awful as he was in the first two weeks, Eskimos DL Fred Perry proved he can be a game-changer again. He had two tipped balls, one that was picked off by Agustin Barrenchea, in an all-around good performance ... Alouettes coach Marc Trestman fell short of an interesting stat. The past four new head coaches to start a season fresh for Montreal have gone at least 3-0 to start a campaign. Aside from GM Jim Popp, who took over midway through 2006 and coached last year, new bench bosses started out well for the Als. The list is Don Matthews (2002), Rod Rust (2001), Charlie Taaffe (1999), and Dave Ritchie (1997).

ENDZONE TOSS

Every week it seems Lions SB Jason Clermont takes a hit that rattles the teeth, but he never gives up the ball. On Friday, Bombers S Jason Nugent blasted him in Winnipeg as hard as humanly possible. If someone can jar the ball loose from Clermont -- and are willing to risk bodily harm to hit him -- they deserve kudos ... Als SB Ben Cahoon isn't much into momentos, but he did keep the ball that put him ahead of Peter Dalla Riva for most TDs in Montreal franchise history. "Not initially. Once I realized it was the record ball, I sent the equipment guy after it," said Cahoon, who doesn't have his football souvenirs in order. "I have a few trophies but no case. They are strewn about my office. It is pretty messy. My wife reminds me of that constantly" ... A.J. Harris seems to be the power back the Eskimos were looking for since released Troy Davis. It just so happens Harris is wearing Davis' old No. 34 ... The punt-return score by Tristan Jackson was the first for the Esks since the Grey Cup win in 2005 when Tony Tompkins ran a kickoff return back.

EXTRA POINTS

It appears the West is best again. The West Division went 4-0 in the first crossover matchups last week ... The Blue Bombers seem to have a Grey Cup hangover, going 0-3 and having no answers for their terrible play. The most disturbing thing is QB Kevin Glenn refusing to address the media after losing to B.C. Win, lose or tie, as long as the team leader is not hurt, he has to defend his performance ... The Argos defence went 55 games without allowing four TDs in a game, then have done it twice in a row. Seeing Toronto last in the league in yards allowed (406 per game) is quite odd after their long run of defensive domination ... The Stamps cut RB Ken Simonton yesterday. If he doesn't catch on anywhere, he will retire with an average of 114 yards rushing per game. Of course, that was just one start ... Since 2003, when the Ticats ended their winless season by beating Saskatchewan, the Riders have won 10 straight over Hamilton ... Alouettes DL Alain Kashama was hoping to play one of his brothers when he faced Calgary last week. Older brother Hakeem Kashama was cut by the Stamps in training camp, and younger brother Fernand Kashama was a second-round draft choice this year and is finishing school at Western Michigan. Alain said the best is yet to come. The youngest, Bronly Kashama, has offers from Div. 1 schools and goes to high school in Brampton, Ont. There is always next year, when Alain said the league will find out how good Fernand is as well. "By then, all four brothers will have gone to Div. 1 schools," Kashama said. "All four should make the professional ranks. I don't think it's ever been done before. I'm looking forward to it."


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