This Montreal Alouettes team is preparing for the game of their season, in a place that hasn’t always been so friendly to them.
This Saturday, the Birds of Prey will play their final game at the historic Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium when they take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In order to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, the Alouettes need this win along with a Hamilton Tiger-Cats loss on Friday. A team will crossover from the West. With any luck, it will be to face Montreal. But one thing at a time.
Saturday will mark the debut of heralded NCAA star Vernon Adams as quarterback for the Alouettes. After two straight losses with Rakeem Cato under centre, Alouettes head coach Jacques Chapdelaine has seen enough and is looking for a new perspective.
This will also be the first game without both Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford, who were released earlier this week. It was a bold move to send these offensive stars packing, but the team feels confident in the move in order to spark this anemic attack.
They will need to put points on the board against a Riders team that started the season ice-cold, but is now riding a winning streak of multiple games. Saskatchewan won’t be playoff bound this season, but they are laying down a foundation for future success. A win against Montreal will only mean pride for the Riders. But they will be spoiling the Alouettes’ hopes with a win and misery does love company.
The Alouettes will rely on their defense against the Riders to keep the game close. Saskatchewan is dealing with a myriad of injury woes, but will still be looking to stay dominant against the East division. The Riders have tightened up considerably in the past few weeks, allowing an average of less than 20 points in the last five games. For a, Montreal team desperate to score, this will be one of many challenges.
With the release of Carter and Stafford, Vernon Adams will be targeting BJ Cunningham and Nik Lewis often in order to move the chains. We will also see the Alouettes debut of former Tiger-Cat Tiquan Underwood lining up along these receivers. The former Oregon Duck will also need to be ready to run for his life at a moment’s notice, as the Alouettes O-line has had their issues in protecting the quarterback regardless of who is chucking the ball.
I’ve said in recent weeks that Montreal plays well for the most part, but they simply need to take care of the little things. Hopefully they are not taking this game lightly due to the fact that the Riders have no playoff stake. Saskatchewan still has some deadly weapons in their arsenal and even a few familiar faces to Alouettes Nation.
Former draft pick and Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge will be looking to show up his former team of given the chance. And the recently traded Andrew Lue makes his season debut for the Riders after being acquired from Montreal the week previous.
Also, Corvey Irwin and Ed Gainey have been a pleasant surprise for the Riders D. They too will be looking to shut down the Alouettes in front of a raucous Riderville fan base. This is not the same Riders team that Montreal faced earlier this summer and pasted with a 41-3 final score. But to win, the Als will have to have that same plan to hit the Riders hard, fast and often.
This game has the potential to be a look into what to expect from both teams in 2017. This is likely to be a high scoring affair. Montreal hasn’t won in Regina since 2012 and will be doing everything they can in order to reach the promised land of the Grey Cup playoffs. Whereas the Roughriders will be commemorating the 2013 Grey Cup championship that was won in this very barn and what better way to celebrate that than with a victory over the team that twice denied them that fourth Grey Cup victory.
For the first time ever, I will be live at this stadium to see the Alouettes play. I am looking forward to seeing this old stadium as the Riders play their second to last game at Taylor Field. Next season, Saskatchewan moves into the brand new Mosaic Stadium to start a new era of Roughriders football.
I am excited to show you good readers what the game day experience is like in Regina. While Montreal and Saskatchewan don’t have the rivalry they when they were facing off in Grey Cup games, I still think that this is a pilgrimage that every CFL fan must do at least once in their lives. With any luck, I will be able to avoid the pitchforks 🙂
That’s all for now. This game may not be the classic we fans will want to see, but it should be a competitive match. Hopefully Montreal will have something still to fight for when they hit the field Saturday afternoon.
Enjoy the game Saturday, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!