THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL -- No one on the Montreal Alouettes expects it quite so easy this time when they face the Edmonton Eskimos.
On Aug. 17, the Alouettes came out of a bye week to take a 28-0 lead in the second quarter in Edmonton before coasting to 38-25 win, cooling off an Eskimo squad that has started the CFL season winning four of its first six games.
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The Eskimos visit Percival Molson Stadium on Sunday looking to clinch a playoff spot against the Alouettes, who have locked up first place in the East Division.
"Maybe the first time we played them they were 4-2 and they faced an Alouettes team that was 3-3 and had to have it," said Montreal coach Marc Trestman. "We can't show up like we did against Winnipeg (three weeks ago), without an edge, and allow someone to come into our house and do that."
"We have a lot of respect for that (Edmonton) team. They play extremely hard. And they've got to have it. It makes for an interesting game. We have to continue to improve and feel that we need to have it as well."
An Edmonton victory would ensure that there will be a crossover team - either the Eskimos or Saskatchewan - from the West in the East semifinal.
The Eskimos, with 39-year-old Kerry Joseph at quarterback, have lost four in a row in Montreal and have won only three of their last ten games there.
But although the Alouettes are coming off road victories in Toronto and Regina, they are looking to erase the memory of their last home game, when the Blue Bombers with third-stringer Joey Elliott at quarterback beat them 27-22.
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Even though they've clinched top spot, quarterback Anthony Calvillo expects to play the full game, although he may get some rest for the season finale next week in Winnipeg. It's a situation the Alouettes have been in repeatedly over the past dozen years.
"I've always played the Week 17 game when we've clinched and I don't see that being any different this year," said Calvillo.
The CFL's all-time passing leader needs 239 passing yards to reach 5,000 for a record seventh time in his 19-year career.
He'll be up against an aggressive team on defence that leads the league with 25 interceptions and is second to Winnipeg with 14 fumble recoveries.
"They don't play a lot of coverages, but they're good at what they do," said Calvillo. "When you've got defensive linemen that can cause issues, it makes the quarterback throw the ball earlier."
"And they've got playmakers back there. We've got to make sure we take care of the ball. We know they create turnovers but it's not something we're going to think about. We're just going to try to protect the ball and get some touchdowns."
The Eskimos defence is led by linebacker JC Sherritt, who needs three tackles to pass the single season team record of 117 set in 1998 by Willie Pless. The league record of 129 was recorded in 1994 by Toronto's Calvin Tiggle.
Some major talent will be missing from the game.
Edmonton running back Hugh Charles will sit out with a knee problem, which opens the door for 2011 Outstanding Canadian Jerome Messam to move back in as the starter. Cory Boyd is expected to make an impact too, though, after re-joining the team a week ago.
“Cory has done everything the right way, we’re very comfortable with him in our environment and he’s very comfortable with us, and he’s a very good back,” said head coach Kavis Reed, in his second season with the Eskimos.
|The last time they met|
Friday, August 17, 2012
Alouettes 38, Eskimos 25
Anthony Calvillo threw for 327 yards and four touchdown passes, while Victor Anderson filled in for an injured Brandon Whitaker with 102 rushing yards as the Alouettes stormed to a 38-25 win over the Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium. The Als were lights out in the first half scoring 28 points, as SJ Green finished the game with 136 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Alouettes defence forced three interceptions between Steven Jyles and Kerry Joseph in the win.
Reed indicated this week that he expects Boyd to get a different look than before, after being primarily limited to short-yardage work in hsi first stint with the Esks.
“The numbers that Cory had I don’t think are indicative of what Cory’s capable of because he had limited opportunities,” says Reed. “He was primarily a short-yardage guy for us with not a lot of reps.”
Should Charles miss any extended time, Boyd could have a chance to fully showcase his skills as a running back, for a team that will likely lean on its running game heading into the playoffs.
“I don’t believe he has to do anything different other than be Cory Boyd,” adds Reed. “He’s a proven perennial over 1000-yard back in his three seasons in the league, and he’s a young man that understands the game.”
“He’s very good out of the backfield, and he’s very good in protection so I don’t think he has to do a lot to get those numbers up if he gets the opportunity.”
The Alouettes also continue to deploy a stable of runners in their backfield, despite missing Brandon Whitaker for the season with a knee injury.
Despite key injuries on offence, there’s been no lack of depth -- or production -- in the Alouettes backfield this season as the next man in line has consistently come up big to fill in the gaps.
Victor Anderson joined Whitaker on the injured list after being hurt in a win over the Argos two weeks ago, and as a result, a trio has emerged to collectively take over the rushing duties as the season winds down.
Power back Chris Jennings, sparkplug Noel Devine and veteran Dahrran Diedrick can do it all; from running inside the tackle to lining up in the slot, given their respective running styles.
“Our running backs are very versatile and each possess their very own trademark,” admitted Anthony Calvillo, who needs just 239 yards to become the only quaterback in CFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards seven times in his career.
“I just want them to catch the ball, block when needed and hit the hole. Whoever I’ve been handing the ball off to, that running back has been doing just that.”
Jennings is a powerful, downhill rusher who continues to show that he’s very capable of carrying the load. The former NFLer with the Cleveland Browns will likely get the start again this weekend and be the workhorse against the Eskimos at Percival Molson Stadium.
“I'll have another opportunity to get the start,” said Jennings, who had 19 touches for a combined 125 yards last weekend in Saskatchewan. “I have high expectations for myself and I’m just trying to improve with every game and every touch I get.”
Jennings doesn't mind sharing the load with his fellow running backs and knows all three of them can get the job done.
“It’s a fun game up here in the CFL,” said Jennings. “There’s a lot of field for us to run and make plays on.”
Kickoff is at 1:00 P.M. ET, and can be seen on TSN or followed live via Game Tracker on CFL.ca and CFL Mobile.
- With files from Esks.com/MontrealAlouettes.com
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|