CFL Preview - British Columbia (5-2) at Montreal (2-5)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Thursday, August 22, 7:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The 2013 campaign continues to slip away from the Montreal
Alouettes, but the squad still needs to suit up to battle the Lions of British
Columbia on Thursday night at Molson Stadium.
Since winning the season opener by a mere five points against Winnipeg at home
(38-33), Montreal has been spinning out of control. On the field, the squad
has lost five of the last six contests and fired first-year head coach Dan
Hawkins, replacing him with Jim Popp a few weeks back.
Last weekend, the Als dropped to just 2-5 on the campaign as they bowed to
Saskatchewan on the road, 24-21, in the final seconds. However, perhaps more
important than another tally in the loss column, Montreal also lost the
services of quarterback Anthony Calvillo who suffered a head injury. Calvillo,
who converted 4-of-8 passes for 85 yards, with a long of 74 yards going to SJ
Green before giving way to Josh Neiswander, continues to be evaluated for
possibly suiting up this week.
Neiswander stepped in and converted just 12-of-30 passes for 147 yards and was
picked off twice as the offense again struggled for the Alouettes. Montreal
scored only one touchdown in the matchup on a 54-yard fumble return by Jerald
Brown in the fourth quarter.
The Als also hurt themselves with a total of 11 penalties (101 yards), which
means they have now been flagged a total of 76 times through seven games.
If Calvillo is unable to go, coach Popp says the team could trot out
Neiswander or Tanner Marsh, but as of Tuesday afternoon there was still no
definitive answer as to which route the Als planned to take.
Coincidentally, Montreal just last week signed former Ohio State quarterback
Unfortunately, it appears as though the Als might have to make some other
changes to their roster after Jonathan Beaulieu-Richard (ankle), Martin Bedard
(shoulder), Josh Bourke (knee), Mike Edem (shoulder), Kyries Hebert (knee),
Brandon London (head) and Bryn Roy (knee) all suffered injuries versus the
Roughriders as well.
On a more positive note, linebacker Marc-Olivier Brouilette was named the
CFL's Canadian Player of the Week after posting two sacks and forcing a pair
of fumbles versus Saskatchewan.
While Montreal sits third in the East Division standings, ahead of only the
Blue Bombers who have just a single victory in seven tries, the Lions are
still very much in the hunt over in the West Division where a 5-2 mark has
them tied with Calgary for second place, behind Saskatchewan (6-1).
After scoring 21 points in the first half versus Calgary last week, the Lions
were limited to only five points through the final 30 minutes of action at
home. Luckily the squad held the visitors to just six points, enough of a
margin to give BC a 26-22 triumph. The win was the team's second in a row and
the fifth in six games.
BC quarterback Travis Lulay started off well enough for the Lions as he tossed
a 40-yard touchdown to Andrew Harris in the first quarter to kick off the
game's scoring, but he ended up with just that single major through the air
and tossed three interceptions. Lulay ended up 16-of-28 for 223 yards, while
Thomas DeMarco used his lone rushing attempt to record a one-yard TD in the
second for the group as well.
A huge play for the Lions, who suited up in commemorative uniforms as they
celebrated their 60th anniversary, came following the first score by Calgary
as Tim Brown fielded the ensuing kickoff and raced 97 yards to the end zone.
Harris posted not only 56 yards to lead the Lions on the ground versus
Calgary, he also caught three passes for a team-best 61 yards as well. Coming
out of the backfield, Harris continues to be one of the most productive
players in the league, placing third in yards from scrimmage with 765 yards
after seven games.
With 515 yards on 96 rushing attempts, Harris is third on that particular list
as well at this point in the campaign. His efforts have taken some of the
pressure off Lulay who is currently in the middle of the pack when it comes to
total passing yards (1,691) and is tied for third in passing touchdowns (11).
Unfortunately, because of several misfires last week, Lulay now has the most
interceptions of any signal-caller in the league with seven.
After two decades, Calvillo is showing signs of breaking down, something that
started before the 2013 campaign even began, but has been magnified due to the
squad's inability to land in the win column these days. Calvillo's efficiency
rating of 78.7 is dismal when compared to what he is accustomed to putting up.
Montreal as a team is last in the league with just 1.502 passing yards, has
one more INT (seven) than passing score and has the second-lowest efficiency
rating (72.7) after seven games.
Adding to the woes of the Alouettes is a laundry list of other injuries, most
notably that of receiver Jamel Richardson who has been one of Calvillo's
favorite targets over the last several seasons.
Tracing back to 2004, the Lions own an 11-7 advantage in the series with
Montreal, claiming victory in the most recent encounter last September by a
score of 43-10 at home. The teams are slated to meet each other one more time
during the regular season on Sept. 15 during Week 12 action in Vancouver.
Even if the Alouettes do get Calvillo back on the field on Thursday night,
there's no telling how he will perform and how much pressure he will be under
when the British Columbia defense goes on the attack. Calvillo could give the
home team a fighting chance, but with the Lions trying to remain in contention
in their division, this is the sort of game that they cannot take lightly.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 35, Montreal 17
08/21 10:39:04 ET
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