So, tell me about systems

I'll use the NCAA FBS as an example; there are I formation teams, spread teams, teams that run the "west coast offense", triple option teams etc. And then there is the NFL, which mostly sees teams running the same basic offenses, with some basic variations due to personnel and whether or not that particular team cares to dabble in spread principals.

Defensively, teams run a 3-4, a 4-3, some teams are man to man teams, some favor the cover 2, some are multiple.

Someone care to school me in the CFL analogs of this, or link me to some articles that might illuminate?

I am not sure what info you get here on the x and o's of the game, but if not sufficient, try Great place to go if you decide to be a lion fan and there is a number of very technical savvy guys there, including some who coach at various levels. The way they dissect games makes my head spin.

Thanks very much, i will check that out directly!

I also scrolled down and found an x's and o's forum. Already found something interesting, there is no strong or free safety, just a safety, with two corners, and two defensive slot backs. Front seven alignments seem to be fairly similar, but the back end is going to be fun to learn, as its actually different.

Now on to research offensive styles :slight_smile:

They have their own lingo for a lot of this stuff. They call the QB a Pivot, they call Touchdowns Majors.

And almost always British spellings; Centre, Offence, Defence, Labour Day, etc. :smiley:

Defensive halfbacks, not slotbacks. Maybe the most important and difficult position to play on defence because it requires covering inside receivers (slotbacks) who have a head of steam at the snap because of the unlimited motion/waggle.

Pretty well all teams use three slotbacks at a time, along with one RB and two WRs. Occasionally blocking backs and "tight ends" (who are usually o-linemen or FBs, and rarely thrown the ball) get into the offensive formations.

The front seven was the same, but more teams use a DB or a tweener at one of the outside LB spots instead of a true LB these days, usually the WILL. Think nickel/dime packages in the US version of football where a DB comes in for a LB in passing downs, but used more in a base D in the CFL.

While it's not directly related to the on-field play, there are a couple of roster issues that you may not be aware of. First off, the number of players dressed for a game is much lower that in the NFL - only 44 players. That, combined with the wider field, means that players are on the field more, and end up running further than in the NFL. So endurance is a more critical attribute when selecting players.

The other roster issue is that there are maximums for the number of "international" (i.e. non-Canadian) players that can be dressed for a game and that can be on the field at one time. Basically it's a way to keep the "Canadian" in the Canadian Football League. Not all fans support the rule; others think it's a great idea, with some even wanting to see the number of Canadians increased. There's a thread on the Ticats forum discussing the pros and cons of the rule, which is now around 30 pages long. Some day it might provide an interesting read for you, but for now just understanding the rule is probably enough. This link provides a good summary of the restrictions.


Ah, systems! This, may in fact be what helps you decide what team you want to cheer for.

Pretty standard on offence is a pistol spread formation, shot-gun with 5 or 6 WR's. The last time I remember seeing a QB take snaps directly under centre (other than goal line/short yardage QB plunges) was when winnipeg took a chance on an american coach with zero cfl experience.... say... 2008ish? Their offence was a disaster that year, and the entire season was a wash for the bombers. I remember seeing a "formation" with SB's and recievers line up behind the HB in a giant, 5 man deep I formation before going into their waggle. It was just silly.

I think the really big thing you will find with the CFL is that Formations are fairly standard, it's the playcalling and pre snap motion that makes the system. you want high-octane vertical O? Hamilton may be your team(dependent on injuries) You want a balanced team with an explosive run game? Calgary or Ottawa (love watching J Johnson, or Messam and Cote as Nationals tearing it up in CGY)

The NFL having bigger game day rosters than the CFL is an urban myth. The difference in reality is only 2 extra players.
In the NFL the active roster is set at 53 players of which 46 dress on game day and 7 are deemed in-actives, in the CFL the active roster is set at 46 player of which 44 dress on game day and 2 are deemed in-actives.

So in reality yes the NFL does have bigger rosters than the CFL with 53 man rosters as opposed to 46 man in the CFL but on game day the difference between the two leagues is only 2 more active players for the NFL.
Where I think the misconception of bigger rosters occurs is the fact that the NFL only has 11 starters on both sides of the ball as opposed to 12 per side in the CFL so in reality the NFL has 4 extra utility or reserve players that plus the fact that most NFL teams only carry 2 QB's on the game day where as in the CFL the game day mandates that each team dress a minimum of 3 QB's on the game day allows them to dress an extra player in a reserve role. So in reality because of the NFL game having 22 starters as opposed to the CFL having 24 starters it affords the NFL game day to have 5 extra players in reserve roles even though the difference in game day roster sizes is a mere 2 player difference.

This standard break-down of a typical basic game day roster in both leagues might clarify things a little more clearly

CFL Gameday Roster breakdown (44 players) 24 starters/2 backup qb's/ 2 kickers/16 reserve or back-ups.
NFL Gameday Roster breakdown(46 players) 22 starters/ 1 backup qb / 2 kickers / 21 reserve or back-ups

Thanks for the clarification. Although the extra five players means an extra backup player or two at a few positions, most likely on the lines and linebackers (at least that's where I would use them). So while not as drastic a difference as I thought, still significant.

Making the five even more significant is that they are backing up two fewer positions. Excluding QBs the backups mean:
CFL: 23 starters with 16 backups means 0.7 backups per position
NFL: 21 starters with 21 backups means 1 for 1.

To further complicate things, You also have to include the designated international rule, 4 players who can only play special teams or back up another international player who becomes injured. they cannot replace a national player who get's hurt. This Makes nationals important, and strong national back ups equally important.

It's often said the best teams in the CFL, are the teams with the best Canadians.

Teams usually place 5 national starters on O, and 2 on D

since you appear to understand the game pretty good rite now I would suggest you just go with the flow and pick up as you go along on this site or other sites people suggest. the language of football is no different between north and south really.

I would hazard to say that CFL teams use predominantly a spread offence. The following is a rather simplistic analysis, and I'm sure others will pick it apart. But the ensuing discussion should provide many insights.

Because of only three downs, there is a higher focus on the pass. As mentioned earlier, QBs are pretty much always in the shotgun, under centre only on short yardage. Teams very seldom use two backs in the backfield, and often the single running back ends up in motion before the snap, resulting in six receivers heading out on routes, four of whom could be hitting the line at full speed at the snap. The rest of the time, the RB often ends up pass blocking, and some teams (Ticats in particular) seem to value pass blocking more that running ability. Hot reads are the standard. The best receivers are often the slotbacks, who come out of the backfield in motion and run their routes mostly in the middle of the field. Because of the distance for throws, the wide side receiver is usually the weakest receiver, and doesn't see the ball as much as the others.

Teams do still run the ball, some more than others, and some teams use the sweep as much as run up the middle.

On short yardage (under a yard), teams almost always go with a QB sneak, which is quite effective, because the defence has to be a yard off the ball before the snap.

Canadian Football is all about the special teams.

no fair catches, no touch backs, on sides punts, uprights in the front of the end zone so all missed field goals have to be returned, or else give up a rouge. The kicker usually handles the punting, and tends to be a Canadian guy. drop kicks can be executed anywhere on the field instead of only behind the line of scrimmage. Also. Only having three downs seems to result in a lot more frequent kicking situations as well.

And then there was this play where a player punted a missed field goal out of the endzone. The k/p that missed the field goal fielded the punt and punted it back into the end zone where the other team tried to soccer kick the ball out of the end zone, but the team that missed the field goal was able to recover the ball for a td while it was still in the end zone, winning the game. :?

In other words, The Canadians are really putting the FOOT in Football. :smiley:

Add to that the downfield onside punt. Very rare, and only used now in desperation late in the game. The ball is thrown to a receiver a 10 or 15 yards downfield. The receiver realizes that he's not going to put the team within field goal range, so he punts the ball to an open spot. At this point, he and all player on his team who are behind him are allowed to run after the ball and pick it up to maintain possession. Total free for all. And if it's a one point game and the ball is punted into the end zone, you've got the potential for one of those even crazier return punt like the one in the video. Except this time, it's not anticipated, so who knows what'll happen.

Something that used to be common but hasn't been done in years is the quick kick - punting on second and long. The idea here is that there's no returner back waiting for the punt, with the deepest player being only ten or fifteen yards off the line. Again, another free for all, especially if there's an onside player or two besides the punter chasing after the ball. Of course it depends on one of the players on offence being a good punter, which doesn't happen much anymore.