JANUARY VS. WILLIS
REGINA -- Of all the matchups in the Labour Day Classic, Glenn January against Odell Willis holds the most interest.
The veteran Blue Bombers left tackle, a trusted quarterback protector, expects that going against Willis, currently working as a pass rush demon for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, will be a tall task -- given Willis' motivation to show well versus his former team.
The Bombers shipped Willis to Regina in the off-season, labeling his a disruptive presence in the locker-room.
"He's had this game circled for a while," January said Friday afternoon.
The 29-year-old lineman said his last run-in with Willis was a bizarre one, a chance meeting that involved his car and the 2011 sack leader on Corydon Avenue before CFL training camps opened.
Said January: "I turned left past Bar Italia and there was somebody receiving medical attention, there was like all these ambulances, and I was like 'What's going on over there?' Then I turned and I had to slam on my brakes -- there's Odell in front of my car. I could've (run him over)."
January said the first thing Willis yelled to him was about this game: "I'll see you at Labour Day."
"It will be fun to get out and play against him, for sure," added January. "It should be interesting to see what he's like, playing for another team. He's doing a lot of the same things he did here."
Willis has four sacks this season.
The forecast for the LDC calls for sunny skies and mid-20s temperatures. No mention of the wind, yet, but you can bet it will be there. It's always windy in Regina.
Bombers punter Mike Renaud is ready.
"It played with my mind at first (as a rookie), but I got over it pretty quick," said Renaud, whose 42.6 yard punting average puts him near the bottom of CFL punters in 2012 (but is slightly better than last year's 42.1 average).
That average doesn't tell the whole story, though, as he's been one of the better directional punters in the league through eight games. From his CFL-high 63 punts, Renaud has pinned the opposition inside 20-yards 21 times -- including six times inside the 10-yard line.
Both receiver Terrence Edwards and linebacker Marcellus Bowman were back practising Friday. Defensive back Johnny Sears (undisclosed) won't make the trip; Demond Washington fills his spot in the secondary. Head coach Tim Burke said Washington will remain the Bombers kick returner, despite the drops he had last week.
Winnipeg 17, Saskatchewan 4.
That was the score the last time the Bombers beat the Riders on their home, fertile soil. It was eight years ago, way back in 2004 when Jim Daley (who relived Dave Ritchie earlier in the season) was the Bombers head coach.
That was the last time the club swept the prairie doubleheader, as well. The next week, the Blue and Gold beat the Riders 27-24 at Canad Inns Stadium.
The Regina drought is currently the second-longest win famine for the travelling Bombers. Only their lack of success in Calgary (0-9 at McMahon Stadium since 2003) is more disheartening.
Winnipeg dropped a 27-7 decision in Regina last season.
-- Adam Wazny