October 30, 2012

Playoff bound Alouettes trying to reach next level


CFL.ca Staff

MONTREAL — Despite having already booked their tickets to the Eastern Final, Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal Alouettes still believe there is room to grow.

“That’s our mental challenge right now,” said Calvillo following the Als’ win over the Eskimos on Sunday.

McPherson to start

Having already secured their spot in the Eastern Final, the Alouettes announced on Tuesday that backup QB Adrian McPherson will start under centre against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

“It’s to stay hungry and finish the season strong,” he added.

Finishing seasons strong is a challenge the Alouettes have often met, as the club has won the East Division season-title four of the last five years.

The one year in which they didn’t come out on top was in 2011, when they stumbled down the stretch the chorus of three-straight losses, which was followed up by a disappointing 52-44 loss to Hamilton at Olympic Stadium in the Eastern Semi-Final.

This year, the Als seem primed to avoid their regular season collapse.
Heading into their final game of the 2012 campaign – a Saturday afternoon visit to Winnipeg to take on the Bombers at Canad Inns Stadium – the Als are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, hoping to extend their winning ways into the playoffs.

Offensively, while the Als have been dealing with their fair share of injuries, with SJ Green, Brandon London and Brandon Whitaker all out at the moment with a variety of ailments, the unit has seemingly not missed a beat thanks in large part to their depth.

Last week saw lesser-known players like Noel Devine and Bo Bowling contribute nicely on the offensive side of the ball, with the former  hauling in six passes for 63 yards, while the latter brought in five catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Bowling in particular has proven to be a more-than-reliable target for Calvillo, having reeled in touchdowns in consecutive games from the future hall-of-famer.

“It’s crazy how it’s all been working out,” said Bowling.

“But the main thing is that we’re winning. I can’t do my job without the other 11 men on the field – it’s a team game and that’s what it’s all about,” he added.

Despite his personal success, however, Bowling was quick to credit the man throwing him and his teammates the ball.

“We’re playing with a great quarterback,” confessed the second-year Alouette.

“(Calvillo) runs the show, he’s our leader, he’s our man and we all just feed off him and fill the roles we need to fill,” he added.

While the offence seems to be doing its part, the defence has been a cause for concern.

Last week, when it appeared as though they had shut the Esks down for the afternoon, they allowed a Matt Nichols-led offence to make things interesting.
Nichols orchestrated three drives that ended with touchdowns in the final 15 minutes of the game, the third of which arrived with no time remaining on the clock, giving the Esks one more opportunity by way of a two-point conversion to tie the game and send the two teams into overtime.

However, confusion between the young pivot and his receivers eventually saved the Alouettes, as his pass sailed untouched into the back of the endzone.
It’s a scare Head Coach Marc Trestman has seen enough of this season, and hopes his team has learned from its mistakes.

“This was a wakeup call,” said Trestman just outside the Als locker room on Sunday.

“We can always improve and there are things to work on,” he added.

Following Montreal’s season finale in Manitoba, they will return home and try and remain in game-mode until they host the Eastern Final on Nov. 18.