Given that this weeks’ game takes place in “La Belle Province” I will randomly insert meaningless French words here and there in order to comply with official languages legislation.
Friday the Riders travel to Montreal to play the 1st place Als. The last time these 2 teams played, the Als came away with an embarrassingly lopsided victory. Zut Alors!
Trying to find weaknesses in the Alouettes is like trying to find a polite, non-smoking French person with good hygiene… although I’m sure one must exist somewhere, good luck trying to find it. Anthony Calvillo is so good it’s almost robotic. He is completing an amazing 74.5% of his passes. He is blessed with one of the league’s top RBs and 2 of the top 3 receivers in terms of yards so far this year in Watkins and Cahoon (oh yeah and their 3rd option just happens to be Jamel Richardson). To be fair though the offensive force known as Keith Shologan has more TDs this season than the diminutive mormon. On a side note, due to the injury of Kye Stewart, Aaron Wagner will be moving back to LB so there’s a chance we may finally get to see who the toughest mormon in the CFL is (Go Wagner!). On top of all of that his O-line is offering a level of protection that would make Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy very envious. They have allowed a league low 6 sacks this season. The Alouettes are among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category. Syrop d’Érable!
Defensively, well, as Fred Reid learned the hard way, the Als are more than just “okay”. They have the stingiest defense in the league, allowing an average of 15 points per game and a microscopic 63 rushing yards per game. They lead the league in sacks and are tied with the Riders for the league lead in takeaways. The only aspect of the D that comes close to being labeled as just okay is the secondary. Pamplemousse!
The Riders counter with an offense that next to impossible to figure out. They are among the league leaders in points scored but among the league’s worst in yards gained. One game our run game looks unstoppable, the next they look useless. Mon Dieu! Durant looks like a poised, veteran starter some drives and a Frankenstein QB that was made of Michael Bishop’s brain and Marcus Crandell’s arm strength on others. Bibliothèques!
Defensively, we are about as puzzling. We are among the league leaders in total yards and passing yards allowed but dead last in terms of points given up. Celine Dion! It was reassuring to see Etch make some adjustments last week that actually resulted in consistently stopping the run. And with John Chick back in the mix, consistent pressure seems to be a realizable goal. Rock Voisine! We are the best in the league at creating turnovers and that will need to continue if we hope to steal a win in Montreal.
The key to the game will be pressure. We need to get to Calvillo and disrupt him or he will eat us up like a plate of poutine. Stunts, HB blitzes, whatever, just make sure you hit him and get in his face. We also need to limit the ferocious Alouette pass rush or Durant won’t be completing much of anything. That means the O-line has to step up and Cates will need to run hard. Coq au Vin!
Most aren’t giving us a chance in this game but I think it will be a close game (provided we decide to do something in the 3rd). Our secondary is good enough to limit the passing attack, our receivers are good enough to exploit the Als secondary, so it comes down to the battle in the trenches, where the Als have the edge. There has also been much talk of the humidity the team will encounter in Montreal and as we all know it's not possible to overstate the crippling effects of water vapour in the air on a hot day. It's no laughing matter, to be sure. We will fight hard but fall just short. Bonhomme Carnaval!
Als by 7 (This should actually be a good omen, the only other time this year I picked the Riders to lose they ended up winning) Crêpe Suzette!
Around the CFL…
- Apparently the Riders have been in contact with Reggie Hunt about the possibility of bringing him in if it appears Kye Stewart’s knee will be a long term injury. And given the amount of injuries we’ve sustained at LB they are also fitting him for a knee brace and booking surgery time just in case.
- Word is the Riders have made a multi-year contract extension offer to Andy Fantuz. Given the success that my beer offer had in the negotiations with Jason Clermont, I would like to extend a similar offer to Andy… sign with the Riders and I will buy you beer after every game.
- Buck Pierce has suffered his 2nd concussion in 5 weeks and 4th head injury in 9 months. And all this is on top of the rib, foot and shoulder injuries that perennially plague Pierce. I don’t know what’s stupider, the fact that Pierce still wants to keep playing or the fact that Wally Buono still wants to play him? Why is Wally always so fond of the uber-fragile QBs?
- Mike Kelly forced Stephan LeFors to accept pay cut from $150K to $90K. While many people are feeling empathetic towards LeFors, I actually envy the guy. I mean how awesome would it be to suck so much that the boss replaces you yet still pays you $90K to sit on the sidelines and watch your replacement embarrass himself?