Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tackling the Alouettes

Bombers defence vows to be better than recent outings

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For all the headlines and hope quarterback Drew Willy has brought to Winnipeg and its long-suffering Blue Bombers faithful, it's the Blue and Gold's defence, it could be argued, that has been the team's most consistent element in 2014.

The second of the team's recent consecutive defeats, however, was a low point and now the Bombers defenders are looking to make the 38-21 loss in Toronto a week ago Tuesday a rallying point for Friday night's game against the Montreal Alouettes at Investors Group Field.

"I feel like we honestly had one bad game where we didn't stop the run," said defensive tackle Bryant Turner on Wednesday. "And I feel like it was us as players. It wasn't anything the coaches did wrong that caused it. We just didn't execute.

"Luckily with this long week, we've had more time to focus on our fundamentals, you could say, our technique. And I think we've nipped it in the bud."

The Bombers did not shine defensively in Toronto, surrendering 462 yards of offence in that game, including 174 yards along the ground.

'I feel like we honestly had one bad game where we didn't stop the run... We just didn't execute. Luckily with this long week, we've had more time to focus on our fundamentals, you could say, our technique. And I think we've nipped it in the bud'

-- Bryant Turner

That's way above the team's season average of 327 opposition yards per game and 116 opposition rushing yards per game.

"We'll come out this game and play the run much better than the previous game," Turner said.

Prior to losing to Toronto, the defence did give up 186 yards of rushing against Saskatchewan but effectively lost the game because the offence committed six turnovers.

This week against Montreal, Winnipeg (5-3) is facing a team that has had no shortage of woe creating offence in 2014. The Alouettes (1-6) are at the bottom of CFL rankings in yards generated per game -- and at 247.6 are the only team at less than 300.

"Honestly, I think every game's in the defence's hands," Turner said. "They don't score, they don't win.

"No matter how they're doing, we want to approach it like they're the best team in the world, that we're going against the best team to help us play our best. You see good teams when they play bad teams or bad teams play good teams, whatever it is, you see a lot of people play down to a level and you see a lot of bad teams play up to a level. You never know.

"We've got to focus on doing what we do. We're kind of blind to whether they've been struggling or whether they've been succeeding, actually."

Tackling is one issue Bombers defenders have been talking about frequently this week, in particular that they did a poor job of it against the Argos.

"I think with a four-day turnaround, I want to blame a lot of it on that and there was some fatigue in there but our main problem was starting to fall away from the basics on our defence," defensive lineman Zach Anderson said earlier in the week.

Turner confirmed there could have been too much worry about the ball.

"That's a big thing on our defence -- the ball is the issue," he said. "Sometimes players can take it as the wrong thing (that) instead of making the tackle, always go for the ball. We focused in on that in the video a little more and noticed, we've got to get the tackle first and the ball is the second thing of that nature.

"I think a lot of peoples' eyes were opened on that. You noticed it. And you don't notice until you watch the film, honestly.

"It's one of those things you've actually got to see yourself do to actually believe you're actually doing it. I feel we'll do a much better job of that also."

Another issue this week could be that the Bombers are going to be facing another quality running back in Brandon Whitaker.

Turner said it's rare that Winnipeg's defence keys on one specific player.

"I know he's a great back but I honestly couldn't tell you," Turner said. "We just don't focus on it.

"We don't focus on what the offence is doing, these special guys and that we've got to sleep good tonight so we can play against them. It's just another day of work."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2014 D3

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