They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but Head Coach Marc Trestman didn’t need a bye-week break to think of the 2012 edition of the Alouettes as a special group of players and coaches.
“The year’s really gone by extremely fast,” said the two-time Grey Cup champion from his off-season home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“The one memory I have is how good our players have been. I said early on how much I’ve enjoyed coaching this team. They’ve listened, they’ve worked together, handled the adversity and the things that have happened to us along the way. It’s really been quite a ride all the things we’ve had to deal with.
“Hopefully it will give us the backbone to finish strong here.”
Saturday the players return for two days of “competitive practices” to restore their conditioning. By Sunday night they’ll know who comes to Olympic Stadium to suffer the roar of 50,000-plus pro-Montreal fans.
“We were excited about having this bye week and getting a chance to rest and regroup and let those two teams battle it out.”
The Als are NOT concerned about a season-ending loss in Winnipeg preventing them from their first three-game win-streak to close out a regular season schedule since 1998.
Since the franchise was reborn, that’s the only year other than 1996 they’ve gone 3-0 heading into post-season. In each case the Als were stopped dead in their tracks at the Eastern Final.
What IS concerning, however, is two battlers in the trenches getting dinged before the break: centre Luc Brodeur-Jourdain (hoping to be cleared after concussion) and defensive tackle Scooter Berry, who is expected to be held out of the Eastern Final because of a shoulder separation.
“Berry is a big loss—he’s done just a fantastic job playing some good football and becoming a leader on the team,” explains Trestman. “Certainly that will hurt us. We have guys who will have to step up.”
If the Als are destined for a trip to the Grey Cup, it may thus be aboard “The Staten Island Ferry.” Ollie Ogbu, former Penn State captain, built like the ferryboat that chugs to and from his hometown.
“He has the right attitude,” says Trestman. “Jim’s brought in another really good person, a high character guy with football ability, so he’s going to have to step up and play a much larger role as we finish up the season here in the next month.”
“Ollie is a very strong, physical push guy up the middle. As injuries have mounted, he did a fairly decent job in his first games. But we’re looking to bring someone else in. We’re looking as we’re talking,” said General Manager Jim Popp.
A GM must be prepared for the next injury crisis after all, and there is no over-confidence despite the fact the Als were 2-1 vs. the Argos, 2-0 vs. the Esks in 2012.
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.