On Saturday, the Montreal Alouettes will have their gunslinger back. The timing couldn’t be better for a shootout in the Wild West.
After two heartbreaking losses at home, the Alouettes take flight in search of their fourth win of the season. The only thing standing between them is a tussle with the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium, the site of this year’s Grey Cup. This weathered stadium has not always been so kind to the Birds of Prey and the Alouettes are hoping that fate will finally cut them a break.
The last time the Alouettes won any football games here was back in 2009, both in the regular season opener and the Grey Cup. Both glorious times for this team and since then, it’s been nothing but losses every time they walk into this barn. All streaks eventually come to an end and if Montreal is finally going to win a football game in Calgary again, the following scenario is truly the best case.
The Alouettes will have Vernon Adams Jr. back in the lineup after being sidelined with a mild concussion. His absence was felt, as backup quarterback Antonio Pipkin failed to produce in relief and Montreal lost two very close games. This should certainly remove any lingering doubt about Adams’ impact on this team.
Simply put, Montreal plays better with #8 behind centre. This grizzled young veteran has demonstrated the leadership qualities that people have been expecting from him and the faith that head coach Khari Jones has put into Adams has paid off. This game will be a true test for Vernon; he’s beaten Calgary as a starting quarterback, but he’s never faced them in their own barn.
It won’t be easy for Adams; he’ll be without his trusty weapons William Stanback and B.J. Cunningham. Stanback was dinged up in the same game where Adams suffered his concussion and still hasn’t been cleared to return. Cunningham suffered a far worse fate last week, fracturing his wrist that required surgery. There’s a good chance that this will keep B.J. off the field for the rest of the season.
But fear not, Alouettes Nation: DeVier Posey is back in the lineup!
The dazzling playmaker comes off the six-game injured list and the potential for some jaw-dropping plays to be made just went up 200%. Posey and Adams haven’t had many opportunities to connect this season and they will be looking to make up for lost time. There’s also the youth in the receiving corps as Quan Bray, Jake Wieneke and Malcolm Carter have all benefitted from Adams’ ability to get the ball into their hands.
Of course, we also can’t discount the presence of Shakeir Ryan returning kicks for the Alouettes as well. He finally broke one for a touchdown last week and he’ll be looking for an encore.
On the other side of the bill is where Montreal truly has to take advantage. After weeks of speculation that Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell would be returning to the lineup against the Alouettes, it turned out to be wishful thinking. Mitchell had been sidelined with an injury to his throwing arm and Calgary has opted to shelve their superstar for at least one more game.
Which means the Alouettes will be facing Nick Arbuckle, who has been no slouch in relief of the 2018 Grey Cup MVP. He currently sits at 4-2 as a starter in the CFL, throwing 7 touchdowns versus 5 interceptions. Arbuckle will be leaning heavily on Eric Rogers and Reggie Begelton, who are among the CFL’s top receivers in 2019.
These two are exciting playmakers that will test Montreal’s defense, which has a very Calgary flavour to it. Tommie Campbell, Patrick Levels and Ciante Evans are names that have been making a LOT of noise on this Alouettes defense. Calgary is where they became stars (and Grey Cup champions!) in this league and now they are looking to keep shining bright for the Birds of Prey.
Despite numerous injuries, Calgary has embraced the “next man up” mentality and they keep on winning. After three straight victories, Calgary was brought back down to earth last week against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers so they will want to get back on track. The Alouettes also want to get off the schneid and are looking to bring a ton of heat on defense while getting their offense rolling once again.
I’m looking forward to the Alouettes redeeming themselves Saturday evening. After a tough OT loss and then being jobbed by Mother Nature and the league’s haphazard rules for weather delay, this team needs to show out in a big way. A decisive win in Calgary would prove that this team is for real to anyone still having doubts.
It will be easier said than done, but the stars are aligning nicely for Montreal. In the end, they are the masters of their own fate. This has the potential to be a great game.
So in the last edition of The ALSternative, I mentioned that the Alouettes claimed via their social media account that they would do right by the fans that were robbed of the opportunity to see a complete game last week versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The team was under no obligation to do so, as the circumstances that led to the premature finish of the game were beyond their control.
But the Alouettes wanted to try and make this right. Earlier this week, they announced that fans who had tickets to the game last Friday would eligible to purchase tickets to any another game at Percival Molson Stadium in 2019 with a 50% discount. For more details, click here.
I’m sure this offer won’t be good enough for many people, especially for those who came out of town for this game. But it’s a step in the right direction and in allowing fans to come back at essentially half-price, many fans may be tempted in treating themselves to seats that they likely couldn’t afford otherwise. In the end, it also means that this stadium will still get butts in the seats to cheer on an inspired football team.
Weather has factored into the attendance of at least a couple of Montreal’s games in 2019. But ask any fan who’s been at a home game this season and I am pretty sure that they were not bored in the least. Perhaps they didn’t see a great win, but they certainly got some good entertainment value (last Friday notwithstanding).
I’m pleased that the Alouettes made good on their word in trying to compensate the fans that felt wronged by the unfortunate cancellation of the game. I was worried that they were just going to pay lip service to the fans, as some sports teams tend to do.
Not these Montreal Alouettes. This was a great effort that hopefully will pay dividends in the future.
That’s all for now. With Vernon back at QB1, the Alouettes will be looking to get this right. If they can pull off a win at McMahon Stadium, maybe the stars will realign and this team gets that 2009 feeling again.
I know I wouldn’t mind seeing the Montreal Alouettes play TWO games in this classic barn, especially with that second game being in late November!
Enjoy the game Saturday, regardless of where you watch it.