After months of preparation and weeks of training camp, the games will now count in the standings.
The Montreal Alouettes start their 2018 campaign with a trip to a place that has never favoured them; Vancouver’s BC Place. Anyone who has ever read this blog knows this tale all too well; Since 2000, the Alouettes have only won TWO games in the province of British Columbia. One of those victorious games was played at the temporary Empire Field, so in all reality the Als only have a single win this millennium at BC Place.
Is there anything that can possibly change that this season? Maybe. The Lions are coming off a lacklustre season and made some wholesale changes to their lineup. The biggest change came when Wally Buono announced that he was relinquishing his general manager duties and would focus solely on coaching for one final season.
It is now former Edmonton Eskimos GM Ed Hervey who occupies the general manager chair on the Left Coast and he has made moves in order to better equip this Lions team for the future. Most notable for Alouettes fans are the trades that saw Gabriel Knapton and Brandon Rutley head to BC. The Lions also added notable names like Odell Willis, Joel Figueroa and Otha Foster. They also took advantage of Montreal cutting loose Jovan Olafioye and signed him on the eve of training camp.
The Lions are always a threat but this team lives and dies by their quarterback. The hope is that the subpar season that Jonathon Jennings had in 2017 was a mere blip on the radar and that he can return to the phenomenal pivot that lit up the league in 2016. Jennings won’t have veteran Travis Lulay backing him up as he is still recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered coincidentally enough in last year’s game with the Alouettes at BC Place.
The Lions had themselves a strong 2018 pre-season, beating both the Stampeders and Blue Bombers. There’s a lot of positive momentum in Vancouver and they will need every last bit of it in order to fill the cavernous BC Place.
The Alouettes will send out veteran pivot Drew Willy in order to notch their first win since August 2017 (Unfortunately, that is not a misprint). Willy has looked solid in the pre-season, but hasn’t really tested his receivers with a deep ball. In order to put points on the board, we are going to need to see some passes reach their targets.
Expect Tyrell Sutton to be given plenty of touches, as OC Khari Jones looks to get the speedster involved more in the offense. Sutty has always played well out in BC, so look for him to get the rock and chew up some yardage on the ground.
Montreal’s defensive starters looked very solid in the pre-season game versus Hamilton and will look to carry that over to BC. John Bowman will not play so expect Jamaal Westerman to lead the charge in hopes of putting Jonathon Jennings’ rear end on the turf.
Look for Mitchell White and Tommie Campbell to be a disruptive force in the secondary, sticking to BC’s receivers and eliminating those threats. Montreal will need to keep Manny Arceneaux as grounded as possible in order to have a fighting chance in this game. The “Manny Show” runs his mouth a lot and has no love for the Alouettes, but he has owned them at every turn.
If the Alouettes can limit his ability to dominate on the field, we just may see a miracle happen in Van City.
With the naming of the final roster this past week, the Alouettes have officially “earned their wings”. And Saturday night, you will seem them wear these beauties as proof that they are indeed Montreal Alouettes:
A nod to the team of the past that won the Alouettes’ first Grey Cup in 1949, the winged helmet made a brief return in 2009 and fans were ecstatic to see the classic look back, if only for a little bit.
Overall, I think the whole idea of trotting out the logos from the past and putting them on the helmets is a neat one. I’m not sure how this classic helmet will look with the current uniform but at least the team is trying something original. I’m curious to see how the final product will look both on TV and eventually live in person.
As this is a late game on a Saturday night in mid-June, I’m also curious as to how many Alouettes fans will actually tune in. With their unfortunate run as of late along with a history of shoddy play in Vancouver, it would not surprise me to see Montreal fans deciding to find something else to do.
But if you are craving that football fix, then grab a coffee or soda and get the caffeine in your system. I’m not expecting a win, just some honest to goodness football. As always, you can follow me on Twitter for your last minute thoughts and in-game analysis.
Enjoy the game, regardless of where you watch it.
GO ALS GO!!!