To quote Brian Griffin from Family Guy, “If you’re gonna pull a party out of your ass, you may wanna stand up.”
The Montreal Alouettes are in a serious offensive funk and their annual trip to BC Place to lose to the Lions couldn’t have come at a worse time. Since 2000, the Alouettes have only won three football games while playing in Vancouver. Call it a curse, call it what you will but this Alouettes team has almost never shown up when it comes to playing this annual game.
With their current lack of offensive prowess and riding a three game losing streak, there’s very little to suggest that this disastrous course will change. So much so, that it appears many Alouettes fans would just as soon not bother tuning into the game and either hitting up any of Montreal’s bars to party or getting a good night’s sleep.
I can appreciate that sentiment. After all, take a look at the Alouettes’ last six games played at BC Place:
2016: Lions 38, Alouettes 27
2015: Alouettes 23, Lions 13
2014: Lions 41, Alouettes 5
2013: Lions 36, Alouettes 14
2012: Lions 43, Alouettes 10
2011: Lions 43, Alouettes 1
Let’s not forget that those thumpings in 2011 & 2012 featured both Anthony Calvillo as QB and Marc Trestman as head coach, so we can’t blame this West Coast malaise on the team’s current administration. It also doesn’t matter what day or time the Alouettes play this game, they just find ways to limp home with an L in their back pocket.
So yeah, not exactly encouraging. With results like that, turning off the TV to go get your party on in the 514 seems like a much more productive way to kick off your weekend.
But that could change this Friday night. The Lions are also coming into this game on a three game losing streak of their own. After a lot of pundits predicted that they’d be major players the West, BC finds themselves in the basement of the Western division and needing a jump-start of their own.
Jonathon Jennings started the season as QB and it appears the bloom has come off the rose, as injury and poor play have forced the Lions to turn back to their old star pivot Travis Lulay. After the past few injury-plagued seasons, Lulay had accepted the fact that Jennings was the future in BC and was content to serve as his backup/mentor.
But now as the young QB goes through his first real bit of losing, Lions head coach Wally Buono decided to save Jennings from himself and given the reigns back to the 2011 Grey Cup winner with the ginger locks. Make no mistake, Jennings will be the star for years to come on the Left Coast. But Lulay has the hot hand right now and it will be him that the Alouettes will have to go through in order to get that first road win of 2017.
If the Alouettes want to have any hope of winning this game, they NEED to score points and prevent the Lions from scoring, all in the first quarter. During their three game slide, the Lions have failed to register any points during quarter #1. Conversely, so have the Alouettes. It’s safe to say that the team that can find a way to score early just may end up the victor.
Montreal’s offense was absolutely putrid versus Ottawa and Toronto, but came alive versus Winnipeg. So maybe a game against another Western opponent will be just what the Alouettes needs. Incredibly, they are still the only Eastern division team with multiple wins versus Western opponents in 2017. It won’t be easy, but the Alouettes did play the Lions very tough earlier this year. Maybe this particular trend continues in Van City.
Montreal’s last BC Place win featured a strong ground game with Tyrell Sutton, Brandon Rutley and Stefan Logan all playing key roles and literally running all over the Lions. Considering how good the rushing attack had been this season, it really would behoove the Alouettes to consider handing the ball off more on Friday night.
Even more so when you consider the quarterback the Alouettes gambled so heavily on to lead this team. Much to the fans’ dismay, the only thing Darian Durant is leading in 2017 is the league in interceptions. Until he gets things figured out (or the Alouettes get a real OC), it may actually be best for Durant to lean heavily on his rushers to move the ball downfield.
The Alouettes added some help to their beleaguered O-Line in former Roughrider/Tiger-Cat Xavier Fulton. He made the trip out west and could make his Alouettes debut despite only getting two practices in with his new team. But the one lineman who will be getting a lot of attention is former BC Lion Jovon Olafioye, as he makes his return to BC Place for the first time in different colours.
Olafioye was a late scratch versus Ottawa last week and his absence was felt as the Alouettes’ O-Line looked like last year’s tire fire. Whatever was ailing the big fella seems to have passed and I expect Jovon to help keep Doubles as vertical as possible.
Not only will this Montreal defense need to put some pressure on Travis Lulay, they will have to find a way to completely shut down Manny Arceneaux. He straight up doesn’t respect the Alouettes and he takes great pride in torching their secondary. He’s also been extremely clutch when it comes to converting on second down. Both Manny and Bryan Burnham will be looking to feast as they both play extremely well at home.
BC’s O-Line has been spotty at best this season, but faces a defensive line that has yet to truly dominate like they should. Even as he gets older, John Bowman still plays this game like a beast and would love nothing more than to plant Travis Lulay on his rear end. If anyone can get into Lulay’s kitchen and force him to make hasty decisions, it would be #7.
Tevaughan Campbell will be lining up on the field corner spot and I am eager to see just how well this National player will do. In the right system, he can be a serious threat. I think that much like putting Dondre Wright as safety, this spot will be a good fit for Campbell and he will be ready for the challenge.
This Alouettes secondary will be in tough, but perhaps this is the test they really need.
Once again, I try to remain faithful that this team will get its act together. But history is hard to ignore and Montreal hasn’t had a lot of wow moments thus far. Playing in this dreaded barn isn’t helping the cause any either. At this point, all that Alouettes fans can hope for is a valiant effort and a return home with no major injury.
It’s my hope that come Saturday, I can write about the greatest game that nobody in Montreal stayed up to watch. When two teams come into a match both riding three game losing streaks, something has to give. We’ll see who wants it that much more.
Enjoy the game, regardless of where (or when!) you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!