CFL Preview - Montreal (2-3) at Winnipeg (1-4)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 3, 8:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Having finally picked up their first win of the 2012 campaign, the
Winnipeg Blue Bombers try to make it two in a row on Friday night as they host
the Montreal Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium.
The Blue Bombers, a team which matched up against British Columbia in last
year's Grey Cup and fell to the Lions in that game at BC Place, were on the
road for the first four weeks of this season and failed to catch a break at any
of their stops.
Winnipeg dropped the first three outings all by double digits and then closed
the gap in Week 4 versus Toronto in a 25-22 setback. Last Thursday night, the
Bombers finally got over the hump with a narrow 23-22 final versus Edmonton in
front of a favorable crowd for once.
The Bombers trailed by double digits in the second half last week, but they
managed to put all the pieces together, particularly on defense as they limited
the visitors to just a single in the final quarter to secure the much-needed
In his second start of the season, Alex Brink connected on 26-of-38 passes for
294 yards and a touchdown, shaking off a couple of sacks and two interceptions
along the way. Chad Simpson, who caught five balls for 49 yards, led the ground
attack for Winnipeg as he produced 73 yards and a major on 14 carries.
While Winnipeg is hoping the tide has turned for the better, the Alouettes are
trying to figure out why they've been so inconsistent through five weeks of
A 15-yard TD pass from quarterback Anthony Calvillo to Brandon London in the
first quarter of Montreal's meeting with Toronto last week put the Als up
after 15 minutes of action, but the offense floundered from there en route to a
disappointing 23-20 home setback. With the loss, the team's second in as many
games, Montreal dipped to 2-3 on the year.
Calvillo converted 25-of-42 pass attempts for 317 yards, but his one
interception was thrown in the end zone near the end of the second quarter, an
unfortunate turn of events for Montreal as it was closing in on tying the score
at the time. The record-setting signal-caller also suffered his lone sack of
the game late in the fourth frame, consequently forcing kicker Sean Whyte to
attempt a 54-yard field goal which fell short as time expired.
London accounted for 102 yards on five receptions, one catch fewer than Jamel
Richardson who rolled up 70 yards in the losing effort.
Gaining some recognition of his own was safety Daryl Townsend who was named
the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week after posting a career-best and game-
high four tackles on special teams. Townsend, now in his second CFL campaign,
has made at least one special teams stop in every game this season.
While the Townsend story is nice, the real focus has to go back on Calvillo
and the offense. The quarterback continues to lead the league in passing yards
with 1,633 and is second in both passing TDs (11) and efficiency rating
(101.1), but there are still times when the offensive line has been pushed a
bit too far and exposed the signal-caller more than he would like. The problem
is, the Montreal running game has yet to step up and make itself a threat,
accounting for just two touchdowns over five games.
Montreal is last in the league in gaining first downs by running the ball,
delivering a new set of downs just 20 times to this point. With a mere 317
yards on the ground, the Als are easily last in that department heading into
the sixth game of the season, so it is easy to see why opposing defenses are
charging so hard at Calvillo in the pocket.
Even though the Bombers have only one more rushing major than Montreal, the
team has been much better at mixing up its offensive attack and is in the
middle of the pack with its 458 yards over five games. While Winnipeg has lost
a versatile quarterback in Buck Pierce to injury, someone who often took off
and ran with the ball when he couldn't find a passing outlet, the team has
certainly had to modify its attack in order to take some of the pressure off
Among starting quarterbacks, Brink has the lowest completion percentage (.500)
and has twice as many interceptions (6) as passing scores (3), which explains
why the offense is trying to add another dimension to its arsenal.
Heading into this season Montreal held a 43-34-2 advantage in the regular-
season series versus the Bombers, dating back to 1946, and actually built on
that edge with a 41-30 victory at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium on July 6,
which means the Als have now taken six of the last eight matchups between the
In that first meeting, Calvillo converted all but eight of his 39 pass
attempts, leading to 443 yards and three touchdowns for the hosts who
controlled the action for the better part of 36 minutes. The score could have
easily been even more lopsided, if not for the fact that Montreal was flagged
for 13 penalties, costing the squad a total of 160 yards.
Guilty of the most turnovers in the league after five weeks with 19, Winnipeg
has only been hurting itself as Brink tries to gain control of the offense and
find his comfort zone. That's something Calvillo and the Als shouldn't have to
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 31, Winnipeg 20
08/01 10:53:28 ET
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