After last week’s debacle at home, the road warriors are invading Ontario yet again in search of a win.
The Montreal Alouettes have another business trip to tend to, this time amidst the bright lights of the 416 as they play the Toronto Argonauts this Friday. Both teams are coming off losses to Western opponents and will be playing with a rather large chip on their shoulder.
There will be a sense of relief as Khari Jones re-assumes his spot as head coach, having been isolated from his team last week due to Covid-19. With no disrespect to Assistant Head Coach Andre Bolduc, this team clearly missed its leader and his boundless energy on the sidelines last week. With Khari back in the fold, expect to see a refocused and hungry Vernon Adams take the field in the 6ix.
After his subpar outing last week versus the BC Lions, it’s safe to say that Adams will be looking to once again prove to his critics that he is who he says he is. As starting QB, Vernon has yet to taste defeat versus these Argos. While no one expects him to light them up as he did in Moncton last season during Touchdown Atlantic, I do expect Adams to capitalize on some key absences on defense.
Both Cameron Judge and former Alouette Henoc Muamba are out of the lineup for Toronto. This duo anchors a very powerful linebacking corps for the Double Blue. The Argos will now rely on Dexter McCoil, Vontae Diggs and Chris Edwards to shoulder the responsibility of disrupting Adams’ ability to connect with his receivers.
The always dangerous Charleston Hughes will be looking for every possible chance to nail Vernon down and add to his sack tally. He’s sitting at 131 quarterback sacks and Montreal’s vaunted O-Line will have to work extra hard to ensure that their pivot isn’t the next thing to be planted in BMO Field’s natural grass. Should Toronto’s pass rushers manage to conquer that red/blue wall, expect to see Adams work his Houdini-esque magic in order to stay upright and move the chains.
Last week William Stanback ran roughshod over the BC Lions, so expect him to get more of the rock to help lighten the load for VA. Not entrusting Stanback with a potential touchdown run came back to haunt the Als last Saturday; here’s hoping that this bruising tailback will finally be entrusted with any potential first and goal opportunities on the ground.
The Alouettes won’t be seeing Nick Arbuckle behind centre for the Double Blue. Instead, it will be a familiar foe in McLeod Bethel-Thompson. During last year’s game in Moncton, MBT took apart the Alouettes in the first half of the game, forcing the Cardiac Kids to snap to life. The Argos nearly won the whole thing save for a timely pass breakup in the end zone, ensuring Montreal’s first victory in the Maritimes.
Despite always playing the Alouettes hard, MBT has never been victorious against them. He’ll be looking to change that with the help of his head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who got his CFL coaching career started with these Alouettes way back in 2014.
Thrown into the fire way too soon as an OC and left to twist in the wind, many wondered if the dreamy-eyed former QB would ever find his form on the sidelines. It took a tour of duty in Calgary for Dinwiddie to get into his groove and was able to parlay his guidance of Bo Levi Mitchell and Nick Arbuckle into the head coaching gig on the Toronto sidelines.
If the Argos are going to beat Montreal, it will have to be with the help of all the ex-Stampeders that now wear Double Blue. In addition to those on defense, MBT is going to have to rely heavily on playmakers like Eric Rogers and DaVaris Daniels to stretch this Alouettes secondary and make them pay. Kurleigh Gittens is also one of those players that moves in silence into scoring position while Rogers/Daniels command all the attention.
And don’t rule out Toronto’s ground game as well. Both John White and D.J. Foster can make a lot of noise given the opportunity. They’ve got their work cut out for them going against Montreal’s punishing defensive line, who will be looking to snuff out the Argos’ attempts to move the ball with some brute force.
Both of these teams are very hot and cold when it comes to their overall play in 2021. They’ll have great games and look sharp one week, then proceed to get their lunch eaten for them the following week. Both of these squads are looking to stay in the playoff hunt as this shortened CFL season has reached the halfway point. Games are starting to matter more and more, especially divisional tilts like this one.
At 2-3, the Alouettes need this win to stay neck and neck with both Hamilton and Toronto. The next week, Montreal plays its first game at Tim Hortons Field, where the Tiger-Cats remain undefeated in 2021. If the Alouettes can win these next two road games, they’ll come back to Percival Molson Stadium for the Thanksgiving game versus the Ottawa RedBlacks with some true momentum on their side.
The Argos need this win to go above .500 and stay even with their arch-rival Tabbies. The Eastern division is a three way heat and none of these teams can afford to be complacent. A win against Montreal will also silence any doubts in Toronto’s ability to overcome the numerous injuries they’ve sustained. I’m expecting a close, exciting game that will go down to the wire.
That’s all for now. We are officially into the fall season, which is synonymous with football. Every level is being played now and the entertainment value is sky-high. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, you owe it to yourself to hit up BMO FIeld for some great CFL action.
Be sure to check out the Alouettes Flightdeck podcast for your weekly Alouettes audio fix. You can download the podcast by clicking here or find it on any major podcast platform. You can also find episodes streaming on Youtube by searching the keywords “Alouettes Flightdeck”.
Enjoy the game Friday night, regardless of where you watch it. Thanks for reading.