Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Five storylines

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1. CAN'T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A PROGRAM

We can confirm there is no truth to the rumour from this point forward the Bombers will attach all names to the back of their jerseys with Velcro.

Might not be a bad idea, though, given the new faces arriving -- and exiting -- Bomberland every day.

The home side will make more adjustments to the roster this weekend, the two biggest moves seeing new receiver and former NFLer Mike Sims-Walker dressing and Will Ford subbing in for an injured Chad Simpson. And it's easy to get the impression more changes are imminent if some of the new recruits -- and a pile of the old ones -- don't step up lickety-split to stop the bleeding here.

Ford, as an example, will make his first start for the Bombers -- and his first since he suited up for the South Carolina State Bulldogs in a 2009 FCS playoff-game loss to Appalachian State.

"I actually tore my knee in that game," Ford said Friday.

"My last start in my last collegiate football game in the playoffs."

Maybe all that, having the game taken away from him and watching as Simpson got the bulk of the work over the last two years, can motivate a man. Ford, who was still waiting to call friends and family with the news, and the Bombers certainly hope so.

"I'm just going to get all the jitters out myself and then I'll send all the phone calls out," he said.

"They're going to be excited. My running-backs coach (in college) has been keeping up with me this year. He found out somehow that I might be playing this week, because he called me yesterday. I haven't returned the call, but... I know they're going to be excited to hear it.

"These are like auditions. It's been a long season and there are changes each and every week. When your name is called, you have to make the best of it."

2. HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS OR HALFTIME TRANSACTIONS?

True story: Back in Jeff Reinebold's first season, 1997, he cut cornerback Jeff Horton at halftime of a loss against Edmonton. We bring this up today as everyone continues to trot out an absolutely horrid Bomber stat -- they have been outscored 43-2 in the third quarter of their last eight games.

But as Justin Goltz suggested Friday, that doesn't mean the coaching staff should be held solely accountable for not making the proper halftime adjustments. The players have to own some of that putrid total, too.

"A lot of that (the second-half adjustments theory) can be an excuse or a cop-out," said Goltz.

"You come into a game with a game plan and you can only call so many plays in the first half, and usually you call what's been successful in the first half again to see if they can stop it, or you have an allotted amount of plays for the second half to build off certain plays. I wouldn't place any blame on a lack of second-half adjustments or anything like that. There's mistakes I made in the second half. I need to be mentally tough and finish games, and I think there's players on this team who would tell you they could have done some better things as well.

"At some point, we have to take it as professionals and put the onus on us. We need to finish football games if we want to finish football games. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish."

3. THE AIR DEFENCE OR AN AIRY DEFENCE?

It wasn't that Darian Durant's stats were particularly gaudy last week -- the Rider pivot was good on 24 of 35 passes for 315 yards with four TDs against one pick -- it's just that, like so many other times this season, he made picking apart the Bombers secondary look like a Sunday afternoon pitch-and-catch with his receivers.

Durant's numbers marked the sixth time in the last seven games a team has passed for over 300 yards against the Bombers. And here's why the secondary has a size-large bull's-eye on its back: During that seven-game stretch, opposition QBs have also completed 74.5 per cent of their passes for 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

4. THEIR KINGDOM FOR A QB

From the Department of Redundancy: Justin Goltz is 0-3 as a starter; Max Hall is 0-2. The last QB to lead the club to a win in these parts was Buck Pierce, back on July 4 in Montreal. Jason Boltus arrived last week, Levi Brown in the last few days. And this just in: Peyton Manning isn't available.

5. O-4... AND COUNTING

For the record: The last time the Bombers won a home game was Nov. 3, 2012, in a 19-11 decision over the Anthony Calvillo-less Montreal Alouettes in a stadium that no longer exists and with a QB no longer here -- Alex Brink -- getting the start.

Bomber faithful, in a testament to their adoration of a football team that has repeatedly let them down over the last little while with a 7-20 record, will pack Investors Group Field on Sunday. A win would do wonders but, most of all, fans just want to see two things right now from this bunch: an opening-kickoff-to-final-gun effort and a sniff of some hope -- both of which have been in short supply for months.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 C11

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