While September is all about going back to school, mid-term report cards are already here for the Montreal Alouettes.
QBs - A+: Coach Mark Trestman says Anthony Calvillo is playing as well as he has at any time in the past five years. While some quarterbacks go to their checkdown receiver or their safety valve, when in doubt Calvillo is going deep. As a result, his completion percentage is “only” 63.7 but his yards-per-attempt is soaring and the Als have 24 “Big Plays” through the air (BC and Calgary have 20 combined!).
Adrian McPherson, the winningest backup Calvillo’s had, may not get to throw another pass until Week 18, but he contributes by avoiding any and all controversy.
Rookie Patrick Lavoie has been more than a surprise for the Montreal Alouettes. The Laval product sits second on the team in touchdowns with four, and has registered 172 yards on 16 receptions.
RBs - A: 2011 rushing king Brandon Whitaker may not be the “baker who bakes the cake” as Mike Pringle once described himself to me, but he’s definitely the Als’ best double-threat. At fourth in yards from scrimmage, “B-Whit” has scored more receiving TD’s than rushing and is not averse to running deep routes.
Receivers - B: Last year’s leading receiver Jamel Richardson has been plagued by early-season drops and injuries. His woes seem to have spread towards Brian Bratton, whose supposed breakout year has come to somewhat of a slowdown. However, rangy ball-catcher Brandon London has proven to be a valuable deep-ball threat, meaning SJ Green has taken over the role as Calvillo’s go-to guy. Reserves like Trent Guy and Bo Bowling have fallen off the radar, but Eric Deslauriers was on the receiving end of another Calvillo milestone, a big gain that took Air Calvillo to a record eighth-straight 300-yard passing game.
O-Line - A: Despite the below average yards/rush (4.8) Calvillo’s bodyguards have given up only 14 sacks (second fewest) and drawn only two holding calls (some teams have four times that amount). The Als have often gone to six or seven-man fronts with sixth wheel Ryan Bomben and rookie FB/TE Patrick Lavoie making solid contributions.
D-Line - B-: Showing improvement over the last few weeks, the Als’ pass rush under Jeff Reinebold’s new 3-4 scheme was non-existent in the early season. Aaron Hunt was a total bust despite his confident talk of leadership in the room and the trenches. The return to health of John Bowman makes an obvious difference, but the emergence of Ventrell Jenkins and Alan-Michael Cash may prove to be even more important for the long haul.
LBs - C+: Rod Davis has been flashy but inconsistent. Kenny Ingram and Mike Lockley are winning more playing time and have been pleasant surprises. Chip Cox may be leading the team in tackles but that hasn’t brought the usual number of turnovers or big plays for the Als’ veteran. Shea Emry may be having his finest season and like many of the starters on D, still has gas in the tank for special teams coverage duty.
Secondary - C+: Also showing signs of coming around, the Als seem to be at their best when the steady presence of Billy Parker is being felt. Injuries have slowed Seth Williams, while Jerald Brown is re-establishing himself in a comeback season. Kyries Hebert is steadily proving there’s “ferocity”
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFLers Ed Philion and Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.