Five storylines to keep tabs on as the Bombers renew acquaintances with the Alouettes in Montreal tonight:
1. Ground control
Bloi-Dei Dorzon. Remember him?
He's Winnipeg's running back, in case you forgot. His CFL debut against the Lions wasn't the stuff of scrapbook clippings, as he only touched the ball five times for a total of four yards. Hard to pinpoint which of those numbers is more deflating, isn't it? His 0.8 yards per carry average may drive Bombers fans to drink, but Dorzon promises better totals this time around.
"I know I have a lot to offer -- that's why I'm here," he said. "I'm just going to keep things simple. Last week, I was doing a lot of thinking, worrying about different things, so I'm just going to go back to what got me here, which is running hard."
With an injured Chad Simpson waiting in the wings (the club is hopeful he'll be back next week), Dorzon needs to make a good impression in Montreal to keep his spot in the lineup.
2. One steamboat, two steamboat...
The Bombers were part of a jailbreak against the Lions last week, serving as the penitentiary walls while the B.C. front four assumed the role of inmates climbing over them.
Quarterback Buck Pierce was sacked four times in less than a half of work, eventually leaving the game because of a knee injury. That's what you get when you have three rookies (plus one first-time starter) tasked with pass protection and rush-lane creation.
The club gets veteran left tackle Glenn January back, and his experience should help settle things in the trench. News flash: It better. Winnipeg's struggling hurry-up offence can't keep the tempo high when its members have to scrape the quarterback off the turf every other down.
3. Confidence men
There was a time -- as recent as the 2010 season -- when going into Montreal with a 0-1 record would create waves of panic in Bomberland. To a Blue and Gold fan's relief, those days are over.
Winnipeg was 2-1 against Montreal last year (including a win at Molson Stadium) and the impression around the team is that success in Quebec is no longer the impossible mission it used to be. That said, head coach Paul LaPolice hasn't tapped into past accomplishments as a motivator heading into tonight.
"I really haven't used that because it's a new year. I just want to worry about us and play a good game," he said.
4. Keep it clean
Last week, the Bombers were flagged for 16 infractions for a league-high 136 yards. This lack of discipline was a continuation of the 2011 trend, which saw the club lead the CFL in penalties (191) and yards penalized (1,717).
Conversely, the Als were dinged for five penalties for 30 yards against Calgary.
While it's simplistic to suggest the Bombers have to cut down on that number to find victory in Montreal, the chances of landing a 'W' go significantly up when the penalties-against number comes down.
When it comes to success relative to orange nylon frequency, it's pretty black and white.
5. Rookie returns
A week ago, Winnipeg's Demond Washington racked up a CFL-best 159 yards on six kick returns against the Lions. On the other side, Montreal returner Noel Devine ran back five balls for 102 yards versus the Stampeders.
Both first-year players provide instant field position for their offences. Both can create excitement, and both have the ability to run one back when the opportunity comes. We have a feeling one of these players will find the end zone tonight -- with Washington coming in as the favourite.
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Winnipeg's front seven vs. Brandon Whitaker
The Bombers aren't the only club with offensive issues -- specifically in the run game -- at this early point of the season. Whitaker, Montreal's running back extraordinaire, was held to just 43 yards on 11 carries and was completely taken out of the Calgary game last week -- a shockingly slow start to the season for the 2011 rushing champ.
The Alouettes' issues in the backfield mirror those on the Bombers: simply put, the offensive line was overmatched at the line of scrimmage, couldn't open up any holes consistently for Whitaker and the offence couldn't find a rhythm.
If the Winnipeg front seven -- a group that fared pretty well against B.C. last week -- can limit the home-side options at the point of attack, it will go a long way towards frustrating quarterback Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal offence.