July 15, 2012

Moffat: It’s all about 57 + 3 for the Alouettes

With what must surely be the title of his CFL memoirs some day, Marc Trestman recently described the CFL game as “a race for 57 minutes then three minutes of heart ache.”

Following Thursday night’s come-from-behind win over the Stampeders, Trestman’s philosophy couldn’t be more true.

“This is a testament to our team unity,” proclaimed Kyries Hebert immediately following the final gun.

“For all the newcomers, we’re learning how to win together,” noted a beaming Brandon London in the afterglow of his first career 100-yard receiving game.

“Our playmakers were getting on me to make plays…that I was better than what I’d shown out there.”  

Yes, the Alouettes are talking as a team, and they’re starting to listen to themselves.

Even the ceremonial touches have been fitting for this curious 2-1 start on the long road to the 100th Grey Cup. Gerry Desjardins, a pioneering French-Canadian stalwart of the 60s and early 70s was honoured before the game for his role on the 1970 Grey Cup team.    

This week, ticket stubs featured a current Montrealer, Als linebacker Marc-Olivier Brouillette, and the word “determination” (fittingly, the same bon mot in French or English to describe the fluently bilingual “Marco”.)

So the stars were aligned when Patrick Lavoie, the pride of Saint Flavie, QC. snared the game-winning TD catch in the final minute. Truth is, the dart throw from Anthony Calvillo may have skewered the top-draft pick from the Laval Rouge et Or.

Two career catches, two TDs in back-to-back games. Montreal may not be talking about a new “St. Patrick”, but Lavoie has jolted light years ahead of almost two decades of previous local hopes in the receiving corps like Sylvain Girard and Lavoie’s teammate Eric Deslauriers.   

Those prized picks had to wait years before they showed up on the red zone radar for AC.

Lavoie has become a trusted bodyguard as a fullback/tight end for Calvillo, helping shore up what should not be an area of concern for the Als, pass protection.  

If Calvillo is to live to see his 40th birthday (next month) he cannot be sacked four times in a game again. He’d started the week of preparation with an MRI on his aching left shoulder.

That alone should have resonated through the o-line.

“We’ve been together as a five-man unit for three years now,” points out hulking right tackle Jeff Perrett. “Luc Brodeur-Jourdain is getting better and better at making the reads and the calls (for blocking assignments).”

“We also have Scott Flory’s experience, he can change the call at the last second,” admits the man protecting Calvillo’s blind side Josh Bourke.

Because of the above claims, AC should not have to worry about being helped up off his knees or his back as often as he was against the Stamps.

“All my life coaches have talked about ‘the feet, the feet, the feet’,” notes Brodeur-Jourdain. “Now, Coach Meyer has us focused on ‘the hands, the hands, the hands. He’s amazing.”

The old dogs on the offensive line insist they are soaking up new punch-to-the-chest-plate tricks from Pat Meyer, a newcomer to the CFL but no stranger to Trestman.

“Meyer is a brilliant coach…a man of charater,” says Trestman, who watched his recruit climb the ranks from strength coach offensive line duties when they were together at North Carolina State.

Coming out on the right side of a thriller should not cloud another area of concern though – the return game. Noel Devine, on Jim Popp’s neg list since his high school days, deserved a detention for his play.

Fellow newcomer Trent Guy is regressing, literally. Three times he angled back to lose real estate. His final numbers: six returns, five yards.  He should be off to the principal’s office.

When Calgary stuck another dagger in Montreal’s heart, going up 32-20, a rare Molson Stadium exodus to the exits was launched. A battered Calvillo even showing just a hint of his frustration could surely do nothing else to turn the tide.

Some fans wondered: perhaps it is best to bring in Adrian McPherson, not out of any faint hope that the backup could rally the troops, but out of sympathy for the future Hall of Famer who didn’t deserve the humiliation or the beating.

AC wants no one’s pity.

The Als’ pocket schedules this year feature #13 with the slogan “Anthony est de retour.”  Anthony is back.  

The night of the Als home-opener, the memory of Virgil Wagner, an original Alouette Grey Cup hero was honoured.  

Nobody dared tease Anthony how HE played in that game. AC’s face was on the season-ticket holders’ stubs that night and all the old man did was throw for a “hat-trick” of TDs and 443 yards.

The evidence after three weeks suggests he never went away.  He may be a tortoise but he can still beat a hare if a race goes more than 57 minutes. And he’s feeling no heart ache.