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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Looks like Hall will get call at QB

Blue expected to start CFL rookie, hire ex-Ticat coach Bellefeuille

Posted: 08/12/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Seeing Marcel Bellefeuille on the field with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers likely won't be the only change on Monday if reports the club has selected a new starting quarterback are true.

Word broke late Sunday night that the Bombers had informed their trio of quarterbacks that Max Hall would start in front of Justin Goltz and Buck Pierce.

The Bombers refused comment on the report Sunday night.

Pierce was selected by recently fired GM Joe Mack over the winter as the starter but lost the job to Goltz after mostly mediocre play compounded by an abdominal injury.

Goltz has started Winnipeg's last two games and lost both looking mostly ordinary.

Hall has never taken a regular-season CFL snap.

Bellefeuille is expected to be added to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' family as an offensive consultant today and looks like a very good fit.

The former head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is a Canadian (born in Ottawa) and has extensive experience on the offensive side of the ball. All of those credentials would boost the Bombers in areas where they've clearly been lacking. Sportsnet.ca has reported the Bombers will announce Bellefeuille's hiring soon.

To wit, through six games at 1-5, the Bombers:

  • have scored just 135 points; only Edmonton and Hamilton have scored fewer,
  • lead the CFL in interceptions thrown, with eight, and 21 total turnovers,
  • in a passing league, have Clarence Denmark and Cory Watson as their top receivers, with 215 yards each worth of catches, tied for 21st overall,
  • have 1,321 passing yards, second-fewest in the league,
  • have four passing touchdowns, the lowest, when the league average is more than 10,
  • have 99 first downs; only Montreal has fewer,
  • have 1,711 yards of net offence, second-fewest,
  • are 0-3 at home, with... hmmm, the Tiger-Cats coming up Friday.

Many of those numbers have brought attention to the team's current offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton in his second Canadian season and in the wake of Friday's organizational shake-up that saw GM Joe Mack and CEO Garth Buchko dismissed, the appointment of Wade Miller as acting CEO is unlikely to be the last change.

When the Bombers returned from Vancouver after a 27-20 loss last week, Crowton was asked if he thought he was at a disadvantage, not having an extensive background in the Canadian game.

"I do agree with that to an extent but I feel like on a day-to-day basis, I'm learning about the CFL, he said. "We've made some good adjustments to protection coming in and we gave up some sacks early but those weren't because of protection. Even though we gave up some sacks earlier, I felt like we had a clean pocket and we've make progress there. But at the same time, I haven't got the formula there I need to flip the field quicker and get more points. The biggest thing that I feel like as coach I need to do is to get into a rhythm where we can flip the field and get it in the end zone more.

"I'm growing as a coach there but anybody in this league a short period is going to be at a disadvantage because the league is different. At the same time, I'm happy to be here, I'm enthusiastic about it, I like it and I'm growing. I look back at the game and there are a couple of calls I'm mad at myself (about).

"If I were to say I'm not at a disadvantage to guys in the league, that's an arrogant attitude and I can't have that. I'm humbled but I know I can get it done. I've been around football a long time."

About two weeks ago, Bombers head coach Tim Burke talked openly about the team considering bringing in an outside consultant, saying an extra pair of experienced eyes could help.

Though Bellefeuille was never a pro player, he's been a successful coach.

He won a Vanier Cup at the University of Ottawa in 2000.

His success led to a hire by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he become offensive co-ordinator in 2003. From there, Bellefeuille moved to the Montreal Alouettes in 2006, and he become offensive co-ordinator there in 2007.

The Tiger-Cats hired Bellefeuille in 2008 as offensive co-ordinator and he ascended to the head-coaching role when Charlie Taaffe was fired later in the season.

Taking over full-time in 2009, the Cats went from 3-15 to 9-9 and made the playoffs three consecutive years.

Before Bellefeuille took over in Hamilton, the team had won just 17 games in four seasons.

Though he won the East semifinal in 2011, Bellefeuille was terminated by the Tiger-Cats after he lost the East final here in Winnipeg that fall.

In the interim, Bellefeuille coached in 2012 in the UFL and was among those short-listed by the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks when they went to hire their first GM earlier this year.

 

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2013 C3

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