Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

O'Shea cites missed opportunities

But sees strengths in film of loss to Saskatchewan

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Trevor Hagan / the canadian press files
Bombers head coach Mike O�Shea has praise for his special teams and defence.

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Trevor Hagan / the canadian press files Bombers head coach Mike O�Shea has praise for his special teams and defence.

Two days and a whole lot of tape after the Bombers fizzled against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, head coach Mike O'Shea figures he knew what went wrong.

"When you go through it with fine-tooth comb, you recognize opportunities we had that we let slip through our fingers," O'Shea said on Saturday, after a film and workout session at Investors Group Field.

Oh, there were some things he liked, of course. The special teams looked better, he thought, the defence was strong -- and as the coach made sure to note, they've only given up one touchdown to Western opponents now, in three games. "I'm very happy with the defence," he said. "They've done extremely well."

But the turnovers hurt, that much was obvious the second the game was done. The Riders nabbed 20 of their 23 points off of them, in one way or another.

Meanwhile, the Bombers' run game never really got out of the gate: Tailback Nic Grigsby only mustered seven yards on 10 carries, and he actually had negative yardage after eight. That paths forward never materialized for him, didn't go unnoticed by O'Shea.

Chalk it up to a bunch of things, O'Shea explained Saturday. The offensive line tried out some new run-blocking footwork in the game, and "they need some work, absolutely," the coach said bluntly.

But the front five weren't entirely to blame for the soggy ground attack, he explained.

"It's never one thing," O'Shea said. "It's generally a few mistakes on the same play that allow us to get caught in the backfield. It could be footwork by an offensive lineman, it could be cut by the running back, it could be line by the quarterback... It could be all those things, and on certain plays it was all those things."

Well, the Bombers won't have to wait long to see if they can fix it, as they prepare to face the Argonauts in Toronto on Tuesday night.

That rare five-day turnaround doesn't leave a whole lot of time, so the team will only practise once this week, today. When the schedule first came out, the coach was hoping to squeeze a second practice between the games, but that was "probably a pipe dream," O'Shea said.

That said, the coach waved off any concern. "I'm fired up to have our guys get back on the field and in a game situation as quick as possible," he said.

"It's our job as coaches to make sure they're given enough, in terms of the playbook, to allow us to win the game, and also pare it back enough so they're able to physically execute their assignments at a high level. I think the players really enjoy short weeks, it means they get to get on the field more quickly."

Speaking of getting back on the field, O'Shea again stated, and in no uncertain terms, that Demond Washington will get another chance at running out returns. He coughed up one in the second half on Thursday, a blunder that let the Riders get their hooks into the game.

After the clock ran out that night, O'Shea declared Washington was the best athlete on the team and he'd get a chance again.

On Saturday, the coach added to that thought.

"Demond Washington can change the game, in one single play, whether it be special teams or defence," O'Shea said. "You gotta have faith in your guys, and understand that's what he can do. He might be the best off-returner on return, in terms of the way he runs the return for the returner, and his blocking ability."

INFIRMARY REPORT: Fans winced when slotback Clarence Denmark laboured to get off the field after hauling down a 58-yard strike from Drew Willy in the fourth quarter of Thursday's game. The good news is he's a-OK, O'Shea said, just got a little winded. Safety Teague Sherman also took a beating, but "he seems to battle through everything," the coach noted, and they'll see how he feels after today's practice.

Meanwhile, OL Patrick Neufeld is likely to get a green light to play on Tuesday, after sitting out last week with injury. Meanwhile, DBs Johnny Sears and Donovan Alexander and OL Dan Knapp need another week to get healthy, and punter Mike Renaud will need at least that much time, if not more. It's not clear yet if receiver Nick Moore will play on Tuesday, O'Shea said.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2014 B5

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