December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
After losing to Edmonton last week, Alex Suber just wanted to go home and sleep it off, let the frustration of that last-minute loss die in the dark.
It sucked, of course, but it wasn't the only tough one for the Bombers this season, a refrain that at 2 and 10 just keeps droning on. "Each week has been a heartbreaker," Suber said after practice on Tuesday. "We just want to win, man, get better each week. We're there, we're right there every week, so we just gotta get it done."
Last week, at least, Suber was one of the guys who did, in fact, get it done. He flew across the backfield for six tackles, tying Jovon Johnson for the team lead. Then there was that third-quarter play where he pounced on Eskimos receiver Fred Stamps, grappling for the football as the pair tumbled to the ground, and Stamps coughed it up before he was down; Johnson swooped in, scooped up the ball, and carried it 48 yards for the Bombers' third touchdown.
The fans at Investors Group Field stood and roared then, still riding high on optimism before the game fell apart.
"It was good to be out there flying around, making some plays, feeding off the crowd," Suber said, but he didn't sound too excited. Good showing or not, the game still ended the wrong way.
The Bombers took some things from the loss, though. Even though non-import safety Cauchy Muamba is fully healed from the injury that kept him off the starting roster last week, Johnson's strong performance in that spot piqued coaches' curiosity. The Bombers will keep him there for at least part of the upcoming game. That means they'll have to start another non-import, in this case linebacker Pierre-Luc Labbe instead of Ian Wild.
That's unfortunate for Wild, head coach Tim Burke agreed, who has been solid in his rookie CFL campaign.
Still, as the coach juggles the backfield more than he did last week to compensate for different skill sets and different plays, he thinks Wild will see more action than he did last week. "It's hard, because I think he's played really well," Burke said. "But in order for us to be able to play an American free safety at times, we have to do that."
So in comes sixth-year Bomber Labbe, 29, at middle linebacker, as Henoc Muamba moves to the weak side. Labbe did see plenty of game action last week, with what he agreed were inconsistent results.
"I was really satisfied with the first four quarters," he said. "I was just trying to do my job and not do too much, and that's probably what went wrong in the overtime for me. I tried to do a little bit too much, when I should have kept doing what I was doing."
Well, if last week's game threw a splash of cold water at the end, the Bombers backfield will have to be wide awake now. At least this secondary is used to shuffles: see last year's quest to find a strong-side linebacker.
"It's not so much just switching, as we're doing different things for different schemes," Suber said. "We're constantly moving guys around. The past few years, guys have been getting hurt... So I think we're pretty comfortable with it."
As Suber and crew look forward to seeing the Lions' mobile offence again on Friday, at least they have something to look back on in their rear view mirror. "When we played B.C. at their place, we played them pretty well," Suber said of that Aug. 5. game, a 27-20 loss.
"We're just going to continue to keep doing what we've been doing, and try to make less mistakes."
Can't tell the job without a program
"I come in, start in two days and then the next week they throw me in a whole new position."
-- OL Dan Knapp explaining his twisted journey from unemployed at the start of last week to starting Bombers right tackle last Friday to the team's starting right guard this week
United States of offensive linemen
"Not that I can remember. College?"
-- longtime Bombers OL Glenn January when asked the last time he played on a line with three American offensive linemen, a position most commonly held by Canadians in the CFL
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 25, 2013 D2