Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brink at controls of Als' O for now

Team struggling at pivotal position

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Alex Brink

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Alex Brink

STILL trying to sort out what will happen A.C. -- after Calvillo -- the Montreal Alouettes will turn to former Bombers quarterback Alex Brink to lead them into tonight's CFL game against his former team at Investors Group Field.

Montreal is off to a terrible 1-6 start to the CFL season and things offensively have been a mess.

Starting quarterback Troy Smith is on the six-game injured list and the Als have exactly one offensive touchdown in the last four games of their five-game losing streak.

"The organization was gifted because they had an athlete who could play so long in Anthony that all of a sudden there was never another person that had a chance, that there was no succession plan because he played so long," Als coach Tom Higgins said Thursday afternoon, after the team arrived in Winnipeg. Montreal spent a kind of team-building week in Regina after a 16-11 loss to the Riders there last Saturday.

"Now it's up to us to win football games and finding a quarterback that does not necessarily carry the football team but can manage the football game."

Brink's first start for Montreal last week against the Riders yielded 19 completions in 31 attempts for 187 yards, contributing to 263 yards of net offence. It was by no means awful; the Als have had three games this season with less than 200 in that department.

In that area, Higgins said again this week three quarterbacks could see action.

"I've said that before but Alex had a good first half (last week) and we didn't want to break that continuity," he said. "But at some point in time we'd like Jonathan Crompton to take some meaningful reps. We don't want him to take mop-up reps.

"We're in a situation where people continue to ask, 'What's your quarterback situation?' and 'Do you have a quarterback?' We have three and we want to find out if we have the person who's going to be leading us for the next decade."

To help them find out, the Als brought in former quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Turk Schonert as consultants and now Garcia is the quarterbacks coach and Schonert the receivers coach for Higgins. Former Bombers quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie is the offensive co-ordinator.

"The question you ask the coaches is, 'Who's our quarterback of the future?' "Higgins said. "Alex is our guy right now and I ask if Jonathan can play. And they say they're not sure. We need to have an answer."

"What Jonathan brings is almost the same thing as Alex -- he gets the ball out of his hands, he throws really well, he has command of the offence and he has presence in the offensive huddle. The players believe in him when he steps into the huddle, just like Alex.

"Jonathan deserves an opportunity to get some reps and be in the mix. The other things is you're one hit away from playing Jonathan."

Brink, however, is first in line tonight.

The 29-year-old played for the Blue and Gold between 2010 and 2012, throwing 13 touchdown passes, but was released prior to last year's disaster year in Winnipeg.

"It's going to be exciting for me, honestly, to start a game against the Bombers," Brink said Thursday. "It's neat to come back here and play at Investors Group (Field). I didn't think I was going to get that opportunity.

"At the same time, outside of a handful of players, there's not a lot of folks left in this organization that I dealt with. There's no animosity or anything like that. It's not a revenge game. I'm excited to go out and play. We really need a 'W' and that's all that matters."

Brink said he's not stressed about the quarterback questions in Montreal.

"We have a great quarterback room," he said. "This position is about competition. By no means have I solidified my spot as the starting quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes. That's what I'm here to do.

"When that time comes, I think we'll all know it but until that time, I'm going to compete my butt off every day and try to solidify this job."

And neither is Brink dwelling on what might have been in Winnipeg.

"I think in this business, a chance can be fleeting," he said. "You have to take advantage of your opportunity. I think the situation I was in in Winnipeg was not ideal. We were going through a time of transition for this organization.

"We saw a number of quarterbacks pass through at that time, and a number of really good players. Now you see when everybody has kind of the same message and everything in line like they do this year, it makes it easier on really everybody in the organization."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2014 C3

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