With any luck, the only heartburn that the Montreal Alouettes faithful will be feeling tomorrow night will come as a result of ingesting too many of the $2 hotdogs that will be featured in-house.
After the bye week from hell, the Birds of Prey will be back to defend the nest against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In recent years, the Alouettes have always come out on top when playing the Tabbies at home. Except for last year, when that streak of 11+ seasons of home success came to a halt. Montreal is hoping to start a new winning mark against this Hamilton team, which is reeling after two surprising defeats at Tim Hortons Field.
The Als will have to perform this task without several of their offensive leaders. we know that Kenny Stafford and Tyrell Sutton are on the sidelines for the next six games, while S.J. Green‘s 2016 season is finished. To add insult to these numerous injuries, Kevin Glenn won’t be able to go due to an eye infection. In order to shake off the bad memories of the game from two weeks ago, the Alouettes will turn to the rookie QB that caused quite the stir last year for Montreal, Rakeem Cato.
Cato had accepted the backup role that came his way at the start of the season. He used his time wisely, learning the playbook and being ready at a moment’s notice. Now with Glenn out for at least one game, this will be the opportunity that Rakeem the Dream has been waiting for.
A solid performance in this game won’t win him the permanent starting job. Even a spectacular effort won’t be enough to unseat Kevin Glenn. But the future is coming fast and Cato will want to leave his mark on this team. The reps he’s gotten in training camp were far and away some of the best of any of the quarterbacks listed on this team’s depth chart.
With both Brandon Bridge and Vernon Adams not far behind, Cato will not be given the leash he had last season, when injuries and shaky play led to a merry-go-round of QBs in La Belle Province. A year older and wiser, Cato looks to have won the confidence of his OC Anthony Calvillo as well as his teammates in the brief spurts of action he’s seen in 2016. Winning the trust of this team will be paramount for any success the former Marshall University pivot has.
The Alouettes will be debuting a new look offense, as B.J. Cunningham, Corbin Louks and Alex Charette will be in the lineup. Alouettes fans know already what they will get with Cunningham and Charette, as both made some fantastic plays last season and are major scoring threats. The X-Factor is Louks, whom Hamilton hasn’t had a chance to see in action. He did have a great training camp, but the bright lights are now on and these games now count in the standings. Let’s hope Corbin is ready for the challenge of trying to hang with these receivers.
One of those receivers who will be in the lineup is Duron Carter. Yes, the same Duron Carter that has been suspended for his part in the melee that took place two weeks ago at Percival Molson Stadium. He has been cleared medically and should play as the appeal process works it way through the system. Whether you feel he should be in the lineup or not, Carter’s abilities cannot be denied. He will be a target for Hamilton’s defenders as they will perhaps try to dole out their own version of justice against the talented playmaker.
Duron is likely not winning anyone over with some of his pre-game comments for the Tiger-Cats. And maybe it’s just as well that he adopt this heel persona of sorts. Carter has always tried to rise above it all, but his haters are plentiful and he can seemingly do no right in their eyes. When push comes to shove, I know that Duron is a genuine individual and just wants to be great at football. There’s a ton of heat coming his way and like he does he’ll smile his way through it all, knowing that it drives his haters crazy.
Montreal’s defense will have to be ready for a Tiger-Cats team looking for redemption. I had said earlier this season that how this team plays without star QB Zach Collaros could be a telling sign of the rest of their season. While Jeremiah Masoli has not been dreadful, it does seem like his play in this Kent Austin-led offense is very much the definition of putting of a square peg into a round hole.
Masoli is not a pure pocket passer and it has shown these past few weeks. If Austin and OC Stefan Ptaszek can develop a set of plays that take advantage of Masoli’s athletic abilities, that’d be a major boost for his morale. Montreal’s defense was schooled by Ottawa and they will be looking to redeem themselves against an offense that has been prone to turnovers. I expect to see a lot of blitzes from Noel Thorpe as the defense tries to hurry Masoli to make some critical mistakes.
If Masoli can get rid of the ball, he’s got plenty of capable hands waiting for the pass. Both Andy Fantuz and Luke Tasker have thrived when playing on the road in Montreal. Add the name of ex-Alouette Chad Owens to that list, as he has been having a solid campaign so far in black & yellow. Montreal’s secondary has their work cut out for them in trying to wrangle these receivers.
But the biggest threat that Montreal has to face still is Brandon Banks, the little fireball that is hard to catch. The Alouettes’ special teams unit did a fairly good job corralling Banks last year and they will have to do it again. Banks did take one to the house here in Montreal last season, but it was called back due to a penalty. He’ll be looking to erase that memory and remind the fans that he is one of this league’s deadliest weapons.
No matter what, something has to give for one of these teams. A week 4 game is hardly considered a must-win, but both of these teams need to stop the bleeding somehow.
This game not only features $2 hot dogs for fans, but you will also be treated to the return of the always stylish 425 Squadron alternate uniforms! Many had wondered if Montreal was going to keep this uniform set, as it was originally a Reebok design and the Canadian Football League has gone full Adidas.
No need to worry, as Adidas has kept this look and it will be on the field for this game and later on this season when the Alouettes pay tribute to the Canadian Armed Forces. It should be noted that their record in these duds is extremely good, only suffering one loss while wearing them.
Alternate uniforms are often hit or miss with this fan base. But based on the number of these beauts seen in the stands, these threads are an absolute hit. As I always say: Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.
That’s all for now. As always, I encourage you to swing by the Les Gars Qui Vivent tailgate before the game for some good eats and great fun. If you need some football talk to listen to while taking the shuttle bus to the stadium, you can download the latest edition of the Alouettes FlightDeck on Podbean, iTunes and Google Play Music.
It looks to be a beautiful summer night on the mountain, so bring your appetite and your cheering voice as this Alouettes team is looking towards the future; one with a win and one where the youth will be served. Be sure to follow along on Twitter for any last-minute news and thoughts.
This team has suffered some tremendous blows these past two weeks. But pressure is what turns a lump of coal into a beautiful diamond. I’m ready for the Alouettes to silence the critics, if only for one night.
Enjoy the game, regardless of where you watch it.