For the third time in as many weeks, the Montreal Alouettes’ opponents hail from one of this country’s western provinces and are in search of a valuable two points.
The Alouettes look to defend the nest Thursday against the B.C. Lions, a team considered by many to be the favourite to represent the West later this year in the Grey Cup. The argument can be made that this Lions team is heavily loaded on offense and the defense isn’t too bad either.
The key for BC will be the play of their young quarterback, Jonathan Jennings. Simply put, he has been outstanding for the Lions since he took over behind centre on a full-time basis. Jennings is 2-0 lifetime versus the Alouettes and will be looking to keep that streak going. So far in 2017, he’s been a bit of a slow starter. But when the fourth quarter rolls around, Jennings turns on the jets and begins to dominate.
I fully expect by year’s end that Jennings will be right up there with Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly among the class of the CFL’s quarterbacks. Even more remarkable is that no one on the coaching staff is trying to reinvent the wheel with the youngster Jennings. They are giving him the opportunity to play and even make mistakes without any issues. A far cry from how the Alouettes have dealt with their young quarterbacks these past 4 years.
The key for Montreal will be to get to Jennings early and often on Thursday. As good as Jennings has been, he’s also absorbed a lot of sacks as his young offensive line are still learning how to come together. What has helped keep BC in their two games when they trailed was the use of their ground attack. Both Jeremiah Johnson and Chris Rainey have been electric on the ground for the Lions, taking a lot of pressure off of Jennings.
The Alouettes need to neutralize this offense and shut down Jennings’ weapons, most notably Manny Arceneaux. He has made it clear on numerous occasions that he doesn’t think too highly of the Alouettes and he has always been a threat when he steps onto the field at Percival Molson Stadium. It will be easier said that done to stop him because even if you double-team Manny, BC’s other receivers are extremely dangerous.
It’s not helping that Montreal’s young secondary has taken another major hit. After starting out hot, Jonathon Mincy was placed on the 6 game injury list. This stemming from the concussion that he suffered in Edmonton last week. Along with Greg Henderson, Travis Hawkins and Raymon Taylor, the secondary that had been tough to crack in training has proven to be even tougher to stay on.
Filling the void will be Donald Unamba Jr. and Tyree Hollins. You can expect to see a lot more reps for both Dominique Termansen and Daryl Townsend as they will be backing up former BC Lion Ryan Phillips, who made his debut last week and still had some rust to shake off.
As a matter of fact, there will be several former BC Lions suiting up for Montreal against their former team. In addition to Phillips, you also have free agent signings Jabar Westerman and Jovon Olafioye facing the only other CFL team they have played for. Along with Ernest Jackson, S.J. Haidara and Stefan Logan, there’s a lot of former orange now in the 514.
What undid Montreal last week was the penalties and leaving points on the board. In 2017, the Lions have scored 34 of their 55 overall points in the fourth quarter. Kicking field goals will not be enough versus this Lions team. The Alouettes need to open things up on offense. Let Tyrell Sutton bowl over this Lions defense, especially in the red zone. We’ve seen in the past what Darian Durant can do when given the chance; it’s time for Jacques Chapdelaine to take the governor off of him.
There was a time when these two teams would split this season series; usually the home team would win as their opponents had to fly across Canada and deal with jet lag. That won’t be the case Thursday, as the Lions opted to stay east after they played the Argos last Friday. Setting up shop in Kingston for the past few days, the Lions will be on the correct internal time clock and prepared mentally for this game.
Once again, no one is giving Montreal a puncher’s chance against BC. And that’s fine. It’s easy to favour the Lions when you look at all of their firepower on offense. But there are some chinks in the armour and the Alouettes have to take advantage. They hung in tough against a much better Eskimos team the week before and let themselves get defeated.
That cannot happen against this Lions team, they are simply too good. Montreal needs to come out swinging and not stop until the final whistle is blown.
If you’re going to the game, no need to worry about dinner because the Alouettes have you covered! There will be $2 hot dogs on sale all game long. They do say nothing beats a hot dog at the game. And costing a mere toonie each, the bank will hardly be broken.
Of course, fans are encouraged to check out the tailgate beforehand, where there will be food trucks and BBQs available to cook on. If you haven’t already, come say hello to the tailgate masters from Les Gars Qui Vivent. All fans are welcome and good times are waiting for you. Just look for the silver trailer and blue tent in the park on the eastern side of the stadium.
That’s all for now. Enjoy the game, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!