Truth be told, trying to find something exciting to write about for this particular match has been quite the feat.
Tomorrow, the Montreal Alouettes will be in Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In years previous, this has always been an exciting match. Buoyed by these two teams meeting in the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010, the regular season matches have always been entertaining. But this season, I’m not sure it’s possible to get overly enthused about watching a team with a record of 1-11 play.
Even if the Riders were to run the table and win their six remaining games (Four of which are on the road!), the 2015 playoffs are a pipe dream at best. This franchise has had a nightmare of a season, losing close games while dealing with injuries and upheaval at every turn. The Alouettes winning this game is far from a guarantee, but both of these clubs are heading in two very different directions.
It will be the job once again for Jonathan Crompton to lead this Alouettes team to victory. But you have to believe that he will again be on a very short leash, as it seems unfathomable to keep Rakeem Cato on the sidelines for any great length of time. As of now, it doesn’t look like there will be any usage of a two quarterback system for Montreal, so this will be Crompton’s job to lose.
JC has tasted victory before against the Green Riders, helping the Alouettes paste them 40-9 last year at Percival Molson Stadium. This game tomorrow will be played out West though and Rider Nation will bring the noise to Mosaic Stadium, even if their team hasn’t truly given them much to cheer about. Brandon Rutley will be getting the start at tailback in place of Tyrell Sutton and I expect Rutley to get plenty of chances to run the ball.
The key to victory for Montreal will be getting both S.J. Green and Fred Stamps more involved. This week in practice, Crompton was able to re-establish a great rhythm with these two and putting points on the board on this Riders defense will be crucial, as Saskatchewan is not lacking in offensive weapons and have gone toe-to-toe with every single opponent they have faced this season.
Montreal’s defense has had field days versus Kevin Glenn as a quarterback in years past, but they always have a hard time keeping Weston Dressler and Rob Bagg contained. I’m excited to see not only what Nick Shortill will do with his first official start at MLB, but also the return of Brian Brikowski to the lineup. The Alouettes’ secondary needs to keep their emotions in check, as they’ve had issues with penalties against tomorrow’s referee crew. As talented as Mitchell White, Dominique Ellis and Billy Parker are, they do have targets on their backs.
And despite the shoddy record of the Roughriders, they are a very competitive team. You can easily make the argument now that the Ottawa RedBlacks are the team to beat in the East. But last weekend, they had to battle hard against these Riders just to grind out a win by 3 points. In fact, of the Roughriders’ eleven losses only 3 of them were blowouts. They may not have much to play for at this point, but they are not going to simply roll over and die. Montreal will have to bring everything they have tomorrow afternoon.
Tomorrow will be the start of a challenging week for the Alouettes, as they play tomorrow and then immediately start preparing for a game this Thursday in Ottawa versus the RedBlacks. This will be an excellent test for this team’s resolve, as they will play two games in very hostile territory. If they somehow come out of both places with a win, they will be the proud owners of a positive record and further re-establish themselves as a true contender in the tightly contested Eastern division.
Yesterday Twitter was a-flutter with news of an interview that former Alouette Michael Sam gave on the radio in the United States. He spoke about his time with the Alouettes and while he claimed to appreciate the opportunity that Montreal gave him to further his football career, he felt that he came out of the process a much worse football player as a result and that going to the CFL was never something he wanted to do in the first place.
Quite frankly, I don’t think Michael Sam deserves another moment’s thought. The only thing that I got from him during this interview was a myriad of excuses. I have often said in the past and reiterated yesterday that excuses are like buttholes; everybody has one and they all stink. It’s a good thing that Sam has gone back to the University of Missouri to further his education; this young man still has a lot of learning left to do, especially when it comes to humility and grace.
OF COURSE Michael Sam wants to play in the NFL! Who wouldn’t?! But if Sam was half as good as he seems to believe that he is, he should have blown right through the talent that this league has to offer and been a dominant force. Instead, like so many others, he stole paycheques that he never truly came close to earning.
As much as many fans cannot stand Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani and his often smarmy outlook on the Canadian Football League in general, it turns out that he summed up Michael Sam perfectly with this tweet:
I sincerely hope that Sam realizes one day that he took his lucky break and broke it in two. If I’m one of the 32 general managers of the National Football League, I would truly wonder just how much I can trust this young man’s word and level of commitment at any given moment. As another scribe put it yesterday, “How can you expect to develop as a football player when you spend more time in an airplane than on the field?”
There’s only one person who stood in the way of the success of Michael Sam, professional football player; That person’s name is Michael Sam.
I’m looking forward to a great football game tomorrow and you should be too, Alouettes Nation! It’s a shame that this team couldn’t provide their fans with the opportunity to join the team to lend their support on the road. Especially with no Fan Train this year, this could have been a great opportunity for Alouettes fans to experience what the prairies have to offer.
If a second year franchise could offer such an adventure to their supporters surely a team that will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year could have done likewise, no? Maybe one day….
Get ready for a busy week of football! Enjoy the game tomorrow, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!