Last week was a disappointing loss to the Argonauts in Toronto. Next week, the Alouettes will enjoy time off thanks to their scheduled midseason bye week.
But, in order to truly revel in those football-free days, they must take care of business on Thursday night when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Molson Stadium.
“We’re coming off a loss and we want to make sure that we’re winning going into the bye week,” offered quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who will once again have his injured finger taped up. “We’re playing an excellent team. They’ve only got two wins right now but we know their defence is tough. All their games that they’ve lost have all been very close, so we know it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Bombers arrive in Montreal having last tasted victory on July 24 against the Eskimos. Before that, their only other win came in the season opener against Hamilton. They’ve hit the skids in their last three outings but haven’t been too far from triumph; their largest margin of defeat was an 11-point loss to the Tiger-Cats one week ago.
That they’ve been within reach is something the Alouettes must keep in mind, according to their head coach.
“This is a team very, very close to turning it and we’re well aware of that. We’ve got an Eastern Division game at home and we know we’re going to get their best shot but we’ve known that for the last seven weeks because every team has and we don’t expect it to be any different [Thursday] night,” said Marc Trestman.
What the team does expect is an improvement from its own loss last Saturday night. That special teams weren’t up to snuff has been acknowledged. Now the question is how the Alouettes respond to that adversity.
“You don’t like to lose but when you do, you tend to look at yourself a little bit harder and everybody determines how they can improve and that’s an important process and part of the season,” explained Ben Cahoon. “We hope that we’ve learned our lessons and we come out and play at a high level.”
Cahoon was certainly as high as he’s been all season long last week. He was Calvillo’s top target on the night, amassing 99 yards on 10 receptions. That extended his catching streak to 134 consecutive games and more notably, upped his career total to 973 receptions, second-best in CFL history.
Yet while he moves up the league’s all-time list, the veteran slotback is still in search of his first touchdown of the 2010 campaign. But he’s not fretting about that.
“You do your best when your number’s called. You can’t worry about touchdowns and play calling down in the red zone,” Cahoon noted.
Whitaker in for Cobourne, Woodruff stays
The lineup wasn’t expected to differ from that on the field against the Argos but an apparent last minute development on the injury front has changed that. Avon Cobourne will sit this one out with a tweaked ankle and Brandon Whitaker will assume the role of starting tailback.
“He’s been very solid. He hasn’t played a lot but when he’s played, and he’s played in full games, he’s been outstanding relative to protection, knowing who to block, where to be,” acknowledged Trestman of Whitaker. “He’s been very physical and he’s been fundamentally sound as a blocker.
“Believe me, he would not be playing tomorrow if we didn’t feel like he could give A.C. (Anthony Calvillo) the kind of protection that he needed.”
Protection will also come from left guard Andrew Woodruff, who for now has put a stop on the revolving door at the position.
“He showed progress and he showed improvement,” said Trestman. “He’s signalled us that he has a chance to get better and if he gets better, we all get better and that’s why we’re going to continue to stick with him.”
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