It's another edition of our Three Stars series, focusing on Week Five's top players...
First star/offensive player of the week: Bo Levi Mitchell, quarterback, Calgary Stampeders.
With Drew Tate and Kevin Glenn out thanks to injury, Mitchell got his first CFL career start against Winnipeg Friday (oddly enough, against another quarterback making his first CFL start, the Bombers' Justin Goltz), but he delivered a better performance than most seasoned veterans. Mitchell threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in Calgary's 37-24 win, but what was most impressive was his efficiency: he completed 29 of 33 passes (87.9 per cent). A day with only four incomplete passes is a pretty incredible showing. Mitchell's in his second CFL season after stints at SMU (the American one) and Eastern Washington, but he hasn't seen a ton of playing time thus far and had never started a game before Friday. That didn't stop him from delivering one of the best quarterbacking performances this season, and perhaps even the best CFL debut ever. Others threw for more yards in their first start (hello, Ryan Dinwiddie!), but Mitchell's efficiency topped everyone on this list CFL head statistician Steve Daniel presented of notable debuts. His performance was just one of many great showings by backup quarterbacks this week, but he topped them all, and perhaps gave the Stampeders some interesting decisions to make going forward on who to start and who to eventually protect in the end-of-season expansion draft.
(Honourable mentions: Brandon Whitaker, RB, Montreal; Henry Burris, QB, Hamilton; Kory Sheets, RB, Saskatchewan.)
Second star/defensive player of the week: Kyries Hebert, safety, Montreal Alouettes.
Hebert's long been known for massive hits (and even massive blocks), but he's shown off his prowess as a dominant all-around player this year. That was evident in Montreal's 32-27 win over Edmonton Thursday, where he posted 10 tackles, a special-teams tackle and two sacks. He leads the league with seven sacks thus far, which is highly unusual for a safety, but that shows how effective he's been on the blitz. He's also been great at tracking down receivers and running backs in the backfield: his 31 tackles are fifth in the CFL. After a strong college career at Louisiana-Lafayette, the 32-year old Hebert has been in the CFL and the NFL since 2002, with stints with Minnesota, Houston, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, Cincinnati, Hamilton and now Montreal. This is his seventh CFL season and his second with the Alouettes, and if early indications are correct, he'll be a key part of their defence this year.
(Honourable mentions: Tearrius George, DT, Saskatchewan; Marcus Ball, LB, Toronto; Cordarro Law, DE, Calgary.)
Third star/special teams player of the week: Sean Whyte, kicker/punter, Montreal Alouettes: Whyte's six-for-six showing on field goals was critical to the Alouettes' win over Edmonton, but on its own, it might not be enough to elevate him over Calgary's Rene Paredes (who was five-for-five, but hit his field goals from longer distances overall and set a CFL record for consecutive field goals in the process). However, Whyte also turned in an outstanding punting performance, averaging a remarkable 47.9 yards per punt on seven attempts Thursday. His shifting of field position proved incredibly valuable in Montreal's narrow victory. Whyte's in his fifth CFL season and his third with the Alouettes following a solid career at Santa Monica College and a 2011 offseason trade from B.C., and he's been a great addition for Montreal so far. On the year, he's tied for second in the CFL with a 44.0-yard punting average and is in third in field-goal percentage, hitting 93.3 per cent of his attempts.
(Honourable mentions: Rene Paredes, K, Calgary; Paul McCallum, P/K, B.C.; Cary Koch, PR, Edmonton.)
Bonus star/Canadian player of the week: Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary Stampeders.
Cornish particularly showed off his versatility against Winnipeg Friday, rushing 16 times for 88 yards (a 5.5 yards-per-carry average) and adding another six receptions for 87 yards (14.5 yards per catch). He was a critical safety valve for Mitchell and provided some big gains on passes out of the backfield, also doing admirably as a pass-blocker. Cornish has spent seven seasons in the CFL, all with Calgary following a stellar college career at Kansas, but he's really come into his own in the last couple of seasons, winning the league's rushing title last year and being a huge part of the resurgence of Canadian running backs. He's second in the league with 501 rushing yards so far this year and has added another 137 receiving yards.
(Honourable mentions: Shea Emry, LB, Montreal; Andrew Harris, RB, B.C.; Sean Whyte, K, Montreal.)