Five things to consider when watching the Bombers break-in a new starting quarterback against the Ticats tonight:
1. Pour Some Sugar on Joey Elliott
THE man faced with the task of getting the Bombers on track has a total of two appearances over the last 24 regular-season games and just two career starts in the CFL -- those coming in the 2010 season.
On top of that, he takes control of an offence that is last or next to last in most offensive categories.
Then there's this: Winnipeg's attack has been putrid in the first quarters, scoring just seven points in the six game span. They've been playing from behind almost the entire summer.
Enter the Elliott experiment. The coaches gush about his confidence, accuracy and overall presence in the pocket -- not that anyone expects them to say anything different. Elliott is not afraid to bomb it, so this will either be fun to watch or bring back memories of Alex Brink in Toronto a few weeks back.
2. Rock of Ages
LET'S stay on Elliott for a second. While his pocket awareness is solid, the knock on him has been that he's lost some mobility thanks to his torn ACL last season. Of the four pivots -- Brink, Buck Pierce and Justin Goiltz -- he may be the slowest in the scrambling department.
Elliott still wears a brace, but insists he's moving just as well as he did before the injury.
Expect Ticats defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan, a former coach with the Bombers and a guy who has some knowledge about Elliott, to put some heat on the Winnipeg backfield when he can. That's standard operating procedure for a defence going against an inexperienced QB.
Good news for Winnipeg: Hamilton's pass rush is quiet, recording just six sacks in six games.
3. Bringin' on the Heartbreak
WINNIPEG'S secondary gets a big boost with the return of safety Ian Logan and defensive back Alex Suber. Both players should help minimize the big play against -- something the unit has been burned by all season.
The club feels those injuries (and the inexperienced replacements) had a lot to do with those defensive breakdowns and have talked about the return of the veterans providing a comfort level back there. That remains to be seen.
Here's where Logan and Suber need to make a difference: Winnipeg has given up a CFL-worst 61 points in fourth quarters. Can't have comebacks if the defence doesn't hold, right?
4. High 'n' Dry
HAMILTON'S Chris Williams has two touchdowns on punt returns and has run back missed field goals for 117 yards and 119 yards (one for a TD) already this year. If he finds a crease, don't blink.
Winnipeg's Mike Renaud is one of the best directional punters in the league. He's been able to put a league-high 11 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line (three of those inside the 10). Renaud will be asked to keep the ball away from Williams as much as possible tonight.
TICKET sales were at the 26,000 mark Wednesday, putting the club's nine-game sellout streak in jeopardy.
Attendance is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Of interest tonight, though, will be the crowd reaction if the club stumbles out of the gate again (Winnipeg has been outscored 47-7 in first quarters).
The 1-5 record and last-place standing has made for some tense moments around Canad Inns Stadium; another loss could trigger some real financial hand-wringing for the franchise. Forget about what this game means in the standings. The Bombers are in danger of losing some goodwill in the community, too.
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