CFL Preview - Hamilton (3-4) at Montreal (4-3)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Thursday, August 23, 7:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Despite having allowed more points than they've scored through the
first seven games of the 2012 CFL campaign, the Montreal Alouettes still find
themselves tied for first place in the East Division as they entertain the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium on Thursday night.
Montreal, which has the same overall record as Toronto at this point in the
season, has managed to capture four wins in seven opportunities even though it
has given up 213 points and scored just 202 thus far. However, last week the
squad drummed up a second straight double-digit victory, thanks to a 38-25 romp
over Edmonton, to narrow the cap in the scoring differential column.
In that matchup, quarterback Anthony Calvillo erupted for three straight
passing touchdowns to begin the meeting and before the Eskimos knew what hit
them they were trailing 28-0 midway through the second quarter. Calvillo
connected on 22-of-32 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns overall,
offsetting a pair of interceptions. S.J. Green reeled in a game-high 10 passes
for 136 yards and a major for the victors.
Seeing his first significant action of the season for Montreal was Victor
Anderson, who ran for a game-high 102 yards and also produced another 32
receiving yards on three catches as well.
From a defensive standpoint, the Alouettes held Edmonton to just 272 yards of
total offense, intercepted three passes, recovered a fumble and also logged
five sacks of Steven Jyles.
As for Hamilton, it is just behind the Als in the division standings and like
Montreal has surrendered more points than it has scored at this stage of the
game. Last week the defense for the Tiger-Cats had a major let-down in the
second half versus Winnipeg, allowing the Blue Bombers to generate 25 points
in 30 minutes, en route to a 32-25 victory over visiting Hamilton.
Quarterback Henry Burris tried to keep the 'Cats in contention with 368 yards
and two touchdowns through the air, but he was also sacked three times while
the running game for Hamilton generated just 71 yards. The team's leading
rusher on the season, Chevon Walker, gained a mere 17 yards on seven carries
and now that he has come up lame, former Montreal running back Avon Cobourne is
chomping at the bit to get back on the field and has been taking snaps with
the first team in practice as a result.
Chris Williams also had a strong game for the Tiger-Cats as he turned a mere
five receptions into 160 yards and two majors, scoring on a 72-yard punt
return as well in the setback.
Against a team which had won only once through the first six games of the
season and was starting a new quarterback, perhaps the Tiger-Cats were caught
napping a bit as they permitted Joey Elliott to throw for 406 yards and a
Hamilton's pass defense is now sixth in the league with just over 300 yards
allowed per game, not exactly the sort of effort you want to be displaying
with the all-time passing leader in professional football waiting to take his
shots down the field this week. Perhaps even worse than the yards allowed is
the fact that the 'Cats are last in the league in interceptions with only
three. That lack of coverage doesn't do the group any good because as a whole,
Hamilton's defense has been on the field for 576 snaps, the most of any unit
through seven games.
Put it altogether and Hamilton's 32.9 ppg allowed, most in the CFL, shouldn't
come as much of a surprise. Although, seeing that the team is first in the
league in scoring (29.6 ppg) might be a bit of a stunner.
Maybe the only positive heading into this week for the Tiger-Cats is the fact
that Montreal is not that far behind in points allowed (30.4 ppg), which means
the game could be competitive.
The defense may not be up to snuff for the Alouettes these days, but the great
equalizer has always been Calvillo and how he can dissect the opposition in
order to put Montreal in a position to win more often than not.
Forget the fact that Calvillo is one of the oldest players in the league and
maybe it is easier to grasp the fact that he is again tops in overall passing
yardage (2,328) and one of the leading passers in terms of touchdowns (17) and
efficiency rating (106.2). Perhaps his overall accuracy (.632) isn't where it
should be compared to years gone by, but still he is a dominant figure in the
game and opponents have to constantly plan for his next attack.
Hamilton won the first meeting of the season back in July by a score of 39-24
at home, as Burris played near-flawless football by going 27-of-30 for 360
yards and four touchdowns. Calvillo had a strong game for Montreal on the other
side with 374 yards and three scores, but he was sacked twice and intercepted
once in the losing cause.
As a result of that meeting at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the all-time, regular-season
series between the two clubs now stands at 87-78-7 in favor of the Als dating
back to 1950, with Hamilton having won four of the last six matchups.
Considering these teams both have strong offenses and weak defenses, this is a
game that could see some outrageous stats. Surely the duel between the two
quarterbacks will steal the show, but in front of the hometown crowd it is a
game that is Calvillo's to dictate.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 42, Hamilton 31
08/22 11:12:30 ET
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