With 2:41 left in the third quarter, the Montreal Alouettes were down just 17-10 to the West Division Saskatchewan Roughriders. Then, nobody can quite wrap their heads around what happened next. Hostile weather consisting of lightning and heavy rain would sweep over McGill causing a delay that would inevitably end the match.
Yes, with still an entire quarter and then some to play, the Roughriders were awarded a victory and the Alouettes a loss for their efforts. Even Saskatchewan fans didn’t feel entirely great about how they acquired a W for the win column, well some did.
Montreal, on the other hand, is left to quickly regroup. They now head west to take on a perennial contender in the Calgary Stampeders. The Alouettes are 1-2 against western opponents in 2019 and with the narrative growing once again on how much stronger the West is than the East, the Als find themselves needing to make a statement game just one week removed from being robbed the chance to do so at home.
Perhaps Montreal’s biggest catalyst for their early string of contention has been quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr. Unfortunately, since their last game against Ottawa, Adams has been out with a concussion. They have sorely missed plays like this one:
Vernon Adams Jr. (@bigplay_va) spots @QuanBray WIDE OPEN for a 75-yard TOUCHDOWN give the @MTLAlouettes a 15-12 lead!#CFLGameDay pic.twitter.com/hIiK5ozTj9
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) July 13, 2019
Adams has a humble five touchdowns to three interceptions on the season. However, his five rushing touchdowns as a quarterback is second among quarterbacks and tied for third in the league overall with just William Powell and Cody Fajardo in front of him. The Alouettes will need Adams to have a monster performance with it being reported that William Stanback will miss Saturday’s contest.
DeVier Posey In, B.J. Cunningham Out
An unfortunate wrist injury sustained by B.J. Cunningham will likely sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season. While still not ideal for Montreal, the impact of this injury is softened by the return of former Grey Cup MVP, DeVier Posey. He has appeared in just three games before going down with an injury. Still, it’s Posey’s past work that should have Montreal fans the most excited. His 2017 campaign saw him put up 744 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games played.
Protection Up Front
Before any of this can become reality, the Montreal Alouettes need to figure out their protection upfront.
Another scoop and score for the @sskroughriders defence! ?#CFLGameday pic.twitter.com/kZuDPJs4jx
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) August 10, 2019
Through seven games this season, they’ve allowed 17 sacks which lands them sixth in the league. This offensive line hasn’t been horrible this season.
The prospects of the Stampeders having Bo Levi Mitchell back may not bode well for the Alouettes. Calgary’s offence has maintained pace under the control of Nick Arbuckle, however, let us not forget what Mitchell is capable of.
George Johnson’s article on stampeders.com beautifully outlines the impact of Bo Levi Mitchell. In Johnson’s article, Mitchell is compared to sugar in Kool-Aid, LeBron on the Lakers and a healthy Boobie Miles on Friday Night Lights. High praise and well deserved at that from many of his teammates.
During the Montreal Alouettes three-game winning streak, they allowed 436 yards to the Tiger-Cats, 365 to the Redblacks and 320 to the Eskimos. They went as far as to keep the Eskimos offence from scoring. Their home loss to Ottawa consisted of allowing just one touchdown offensively and 241 yards.
Furthermore, Montreal’s defence did a tremendous job keeping Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan offence in check. However, Calgary presents a different challenge and they’ll need more from their front seven to have a chance on Saturday. With only seven sacks, the Alouettes are tied for dead-last in the league for sacks, though they were able to get to Fajardo twice last week.
Rookie defensive coordinator, Bob Slowik has worked hard to get up to speed with the Canadian game. If they are able to keep a potentially “rusty” Mitchell in check and perhaps break out some more special teams magic, this game may swing wide-open.
Why This Game is so Important
The common thought process in any league is that inter-divisional games trump outer-division games in terms of importance. This is mostly true across the board in terms of tie-breakers. However, in Montreal or Ottawa’s case, it’s almost pre-determined that they will be facing a Western Division team come playoffs with the crossover. With how tight the West Division is, anyone from Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Calgary or Edmonton are potential opponents. If there was any time to begin to gain traction and confidence against the “almighty” West Divison, it would be now.
Saturday’s forecast calls for cloudy with sunny breaks. It’s just the reigning Grey Cup MVP and the champions standing in the way of the Montreal Alouettes and a confidence-building victory. If they pull it off, it’ll be their first win against the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium since Week 1 of the 2009 season.
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images