Dirty Bird Blog: Calm Before The Storm

Tonight the Montreal Alouettes play their final pre-season game versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It’ll be the first chance for the veterans who rested last week to get warmed up for the start of the season and the final chance for the rookies to impress the coaching staff.

It’ll also be the first time seeing Avon Cobourne suit up for the black & yellow of Steeltown. For years us Alouettes fans cheered as #6 ran over the competition with his legs & his mouth. But now he’ll be wearing #22 while trying to run over & talk smack about us. It’s gonna take some getting used to.

Last week Winnipeg was able to contain the run. I expect the Alouettes to try and torch Hamilton with deep passes right away to score some quick TDs, then focus on the running game so they can establish a clear-cut choice for the lead running back. I expect the defense to do a better job keeping Hamilton’s RBs in check. They know what Cobourne is capable of & Hamilton’s rushing last week against the Argos left a lot to be desired.

Once again, Sean Whyte will start the kicking game for Montreal then hand it over to former Ti-Cat Sandro DeAngelis. After being jettisoned by Hamilton, I expect Sandro to want to prove them wrong for having no faith in him. Whyte’s been impressing with his punting and that will have to continue, as I don’t see any change in the Alouettes desire to have their kicker do the punting as well.

Finally, it looks like we’ll see more of the new dynamic duo of Brandon London & Bo Bowling. With Kerry Watkins’ nasal surgery expecting to keep him out of the lineup for at least the opener, one of these 2 youngsters will have a chance to play in the big-time next week.

In a refreshing change of pace, Tim Maypray went on his Twitter account & admitted his game wasn’t at 100% last week. It showed in a lot of his play and he made no excuses, just owned up to it & vowed to refocus himself to be better.  When he’s on, he’s a superstar in the making with his fast feet & reading of the entire field.  He was the reason why Marc Trestman was able to release Larry Taylor with confidence. I sincerely hope that Maypray gets back into his groove & can be the explosive force with the special teams he was last year.

With that said, tonight’s game will set the table for next Thursday’s home opener. Not only will Canadians be able to catch it on TSN & RDS as per usual, but Americans starved for football will be able to enjoy it on the NFL Network. In fact, they will be carrying a minimum of 2 CFL games per week with the possibility of more.

So far the Alouettes will be featured a few times, including both their games vs. the Saskatchewan RoughRiders. Last year the Canada Day opener between both teams garnered a lot of interest from the USA & hopefully these 2 teams will bring out the best in each other yet again when they face off in July.

I’ll be live-tweeting again during tonight’s game & will post my thoughts tomorrow. I’ll also try to do the occasional sidebar blog about other things Alouettes.  I think 2-3 intelligent posts a week is doable :)