“We killed ourselves, it killed our drives, and it was a huge factor. You can’t give a team like that all that momentum,” said Brandon Whitaker after the Montreal Alouettes took 20 penalties in a game vs. the BC Lions.
|Avoiding the Flag|
Through 11 weeks, the Als have been flagged 95 times for 781 yards. 18 have arrived while on offence, 38 while on defence and 22 while on special teams.
For all their inconsistencies, the Alouettes were remarkably consistent in the sheer and utter chaos that was the BC Place Flag Festival, only the latest in a macabre series of Montreal defeats in Vancouver.
The Alouettes drew five flags in the first quarter, five more in the second, and 10 in the second half.
What’s worse is the fact that the Montreal coaching staff was unable to pin exactly where the problem rooted from, as flags were flying on all parts of the field.
While the defence drew the majority of the penalties, quarterback Anthony Calvillo’s reputed bodyguards took as many holding calls as they had in the first nine games of the season (just two). Special Teams committed several infractions as well.
For the first time all season, at least all three phases of the game were contributing. Never before had a CFL officiating crew come within a yard of throwing for more yards than Calvillo.
“Hopefully this is something that won’t become a virus for us as we move along,” Head Coach Marc Trestman offered in the form of mea culpa.
“I don’t think it will.”
The earnest disciplinarian may as well have changed the team mantra from “Win the Day” to “You gonna pick that up?”
Trestman was called for delay of game, an act of frustration to get the officials attention on a non-challengeable play. At that point in the game the flag-waving was already 10-2 against the Als, not to say they weren’t guilty as charged.
“I felt that I was going to do anything to give our team a boost, I knew it would cost 10 yards,” admits Trestman.
“I’m grateful for the team for having my back. Our field-goal block team did a great job rushing (Paul) McCallum and he hit it to the left of the goalpost, but at that moment when I saw the flag come from the end zone I felt the official had called too-many-men on the field and was trying to pick up the flag. I wanted to let the team know I had their back.”
“We have to go back and keep each other accountable to make this thing right,” realizes Whitaker, who himself is no innocent bystander since his offside penalty almost completely negated his total receiving yards in the game. “We know in the locker room everybody’s got each other’s back.”
BC’s Angus Reid may be handing out knives for those backs by suggesting the penalties stem back to an Alouette leadership deficit on the field and in the locker room.
Coach Trestman begs to differ.
“I try not to use one game as a signal for what kind of team we are. We’ve played very disciplined and very composed football for five weeks before BC. You can’t win when you have 20 penalties. We had three penalties two weeks ago. It’s something we had to address, but at this time I don’t feel we have to overreact to it.”
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.