After a week of rest, the Montreal Alouettes are back to work. As these words hit the Internet, the Alouettes have arrived in Calgary as they will face the Stampeders tomorrow. Montreal has not won in Calgary since 2009, a year in which they won the Grey Cup.
If you’re one for coincidences, consider this: In 2001 and 2008, the Calgary Stampeders won the Grey Cup. The following year, the Stampeders lost to the Alouettes at McMahon Stadium. And the eventual winner of the Grey Cup in those seasons? That’s right, the Alouettes.
Now, I’m not saying it’s a done deal should Montreal pull off the win tomorrow. BUT the Stampeders are the current defending Grey Cup champions so if the Alouettes can put in a repeat performance from a few weeks ago…..Alouettes Nation may feel a bit more confident in booking a flight to Winnipeg for late November.
Teams coming in off a bye week are a crapshoot though. Some play incredible while others are still in vacation mode. Montreal is walking into an ideal situation with coming off their bye week, as the Stampeders will be missing some key elements. Jon Cornish suffered a broken thumb in last week’s overtime loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks. Montreal was able to keep Cornish in check during the first tilt, but not having to prepare for this always dangerous running threat is still a bonus.
Also out of the lineup are Joe West and Adam Thibault, who have made some incredible contributions for the Stamps. Calgary has also dealt with a myriad of problems with keeping their offensive line healthy and against a group that features John Bowman, Alan-Michael Cash and Michael Klassen, protecting Bo Levi Mitchell will be priority #1 for the Stampeders.
More surprising with Calgary is how underwhelming Mitchell has played in 2015. There’s no denying his list of credentials but the Calgary pivot just can’t seem to get it going this year. Perhaps the dreaded “Grey Cup hangover” has hit this Stampeders team. It will take more than water and Tylenol for this team to shake off theirs, however. Calgary will have to make sure that they did their homework on rookie phenom Rakeem Cato, who dominated the Stampeders in his CFL debut.
At Percival Molson Stadium, Cato was able to move the ball effectively with little to no pressure from Calgary’s secondary. Cato also relied heavily on Tyrell Sutton, who ran roughshod with Juwan Simpson out of the lineup. Simpson will be back and he’ll have his troops fired up. Fred Stamps will miss this game due to a personal matter, so expect to see receivers Andrew Smith and Dobson Collins inserted into the lineup.
Smith was on the practice roster last year and I’ve been high on Smith’s potential for a while now. As a young National receiver, he’s one of the names that will be linked to the future of this Alouettes receiving corps along with Alex Charette and Cody Hoffman. Smith was having an outstanding 2015 camp until he was sidelined with compartment syndrome in his leg, forcing him to have surgery. Andrew has since healed up and has been outstanding on the practice squad, making some incredible catches.
Every year the Alouettes have that one player who has to bide his time on the practice roster and wait for an injury to a starter before having his name called. In 2013, it was Duron Carter. In 2014, it was Tyrell Sutton. Andrew could very well be that player in 2015 for the Alouettes, in addition to Rakeem Cato. You won’t replace a Fred Stamps THAT easily but if Smith can come in and play his gritty, athletic style versus a tough Calgary defense, the Alouettes could have TWO strong National receivers lining up before long.
Montreal will have to lean on Nik Lewis, who may very well be playing at McMahon Stadium tomorrow for the last time. While the big fella is thrilled to be in Montreal’s lineup and able to contribute to the Alouettes, Cowtown will always feel like home to him. During the bye week Lewis returned to Calgary and was given a hero’s welcome while attending the Stampeders game as a fan. It will be interesting to see how Lewis plays this game tomorrow.
Calgarians aren’t typically ones to appreciate opponents lighting up their Stampeders but I’m sure there will be a small smattering of applause if it happens to be Lewis that’s rumbling towards the end zone tomorrow.
After spending much of the season at home, Montreal will be road warriors in August. Starting tomorrow in Calgary, the Alouettes will also play games in Ottawa, B.C. and Hamilton. August’s lone game at Percival Molson Stadium will be versus Edmonton and it will be the White-Out game, where the Alouettes will don its white uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear that colour as well.
At least the team is finally giving this game some serious promotion, as opposed to half-heartedly mentioning the day before. I’m still of the opinion that the only way you’ll successfully have the stadium completely whited out would be to give away white t-shirts to everyone, much like what the Winnipeg Jets did for their Whiteout games.
White Alouettes T-shirts will be for sale at the game should you forget but based on last year’s effort, I still say finding a sponsor and giving fans the t-shirts for free is the way to go. But feel free to prove me wrong, Alouettes Nation! You know that I’ll be there wearing white and I hope you will too. Consider this your first announcement of this game with more to come.
That’s all for now. The plans I had for The ALSternative for the bye week didn’t quite materialize, but that is to be expected sometimes. I’m hopeful that I can make some more happen for you fans in the weeks to come.
Enjoy the game tomorrow, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!