December 5, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
1. THE SPCA IS ON STANDBY...
Meet "Quick Six" and, for those of you who haven't been formally introduced, he is the white mustang that gallops up and down the sidelines at McMahon Stadium after the Calgary Stampeders score a touchdown. Trotting out an old joke here, but given the Stamps are 16-point favourites and that the Bombers haven't won in Cowtown since Moses was a preschooler (2002, actually) and there are some concerns the SPCA -- the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- may have to be on site as Quick Six gets more than a regular workout tonight.
Let's just say over the course of the 10-game losing streak in Calgary, the ol' beast has worn out a few horseshoes. Consider the Stamps have averaged 34.6 points against the Bombers during this streak with the average margin of victory a whopping 15.7 points.
Strap on the feed bag, horsey, you're going to be busy.
2. PLAYING FOR PRIDE? YEAH, SURE. PLAYING FOR A FUTURE IN BLUE AND GOLD? DAMN STRAIGHT
These are the kinds of comments you hear from a 2-11 team during the week:
"You have to go out there and play for pride." -- Glenn January.
"No one has to give us a shot. As long as the guys here believe in it." -- Max Hall.
"Their spirts are high. They practised hard, this week, they had energy. I think they're going to go out and play as hard as they can play." -- Tim Burke.
And when the ball is put on the tee tonight all of that chatter means absolutely nothing. The playing for pride thing has been tossed around for a while but there is another reality in play here. The airlift of talent was cranked up this week as CFL teams took advantage of the annual practice-roster expansion to take a look at new players, with the Bombers bringing in seven new faces on Tuesday and Wednesday. Another, wide receiver Wallace Miles, will get his first start after toiling on the practice roster for most of the season -- a glorious opportunity to open eyes and turn heads.
Now, while there is the expectation the football operations department will be overhauled before the 2014 season -- the coaching staff isn't exactly sleeping easy these days -- there is little doubt acting GM Kyle Walters will somehow be involved in the makeover this winter. Essentially, that means every player on the roster, be it a 10-year vet or a fresh face who couldn't point out Winnipeg on a map until their arrival, is being auditioned.
And the fear of failure and the fear of losing a paycheque can, sometimes, serve as powerful motivators.
3. DEFENCE FIRST
The two Bomber wins this season -- in Montreal in Week 2 and over Saskatchewan in the Banjo Bowl -- have the defence's fingerprints all over them. And, given the offence's struggles this season, if the Bombers are to have any hope of a victory it will once again likely have to be authored by the defensive dozen.
And it's a unit that, despite having surrendered a league-high 421 points, does lead the CFL in sacks. Stamps' starter Kevin Glenn will likely be facing a number of different looks from the Bomber defence.
"(The Bombers defensive backs are) aggressive, tough. They're not the biggest or tallest, but they're the most aggressive ones in the league as far as coming up, tackling, jamming receivers and just making it tough and hard for receivers to get open in man-to-man," Glenn told The Calgary Herald earlier this week. "When you have the type of defensive line they have, you can do that as DBs.
"From an overall standpoint, they have a really, really talented defence. It doesn't show in their record, but when you watch them on film, they do."
4. JON CORNISH: HOMEGROWN HERO
If the prospects of watching the Bombers getting pushed around doesn't grab you, football fans can turn their attention to Stamps' running back Jon Cornish and his pursuit of a second-straight rushing title. Cornish has 1,207 yards -- 15 back of Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets. The 29-year-old New Westminster product was named the CFL Canadian player of the month for September this week -- the second time he's been honoured this season -- and is exactly the kind of ratio-breaking homegrown product the Bombers covet.
Oh, and get this: of the 22 Canadians listed on the Stamps' 46-man roster, 13 were drafted by Calgary, two more were signed as free agents after playing junior football with the Calgary Colts while six of the eight Canadians on the injured list were drafted by the red and white.
Here's the kicker: Two of their 2013 draft picks -- defensive lineman Ben D'Aguilar (second round, 13th overall) and starting centre Brent Jones (second round, 16th overall) -- were both available to Winnipeg when they selected Andy Mulumba second overall and Kris Robertson 11th overall.
5. GLENN, MITCHELL, TATE... DARE TO DREAM
The Stamps will likely protect Bo Levi Mitchell in advance of the Ottawa Redblacks expansion draft this December, launching Kevin Glenn and Drew Tate into the free market this winter. And, based on the numbers tossed up this year by Buck Pierce (since departed), Max Hall, Justin Goltz and Jason Boltus, either one would be a significant upgrade in Winnipeg.
Worth noting, just FYI, the CFL trade deadline is Wednesday.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPEdTait
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 C4