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June 10, 2016

Upon Further Review – WPG vs MTL

Quincy Mcduffie (14) and Jewel Hampton (29) during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field on Wednesday June 8, 2016 in Winnipeg, MB. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

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June 9, 2016

It was during the final moments of Wednesday’s preseason win over the Montreal Alouettes – heavy emphasis on ‘preseason’ – when some dudes in the north end zone broke into a chorus/chant.

“O’Sheaaaa, O’Shea, O’Shea, O’Sheaaaaa” they began singing, to the tune of the ‘Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole’ ditty first heard in soccer and since adopted by the Montreal Canadiens.

Two things struck yours truly at that moment:

  1. These diehards must have been part of the crew that helped craft the beer snake and;
  2. Just imagine what Investors Group Field will be like when this football team starts winning regularly in its own back yard.

With all that in mind, here are a few other notes, quotes and anecdotes from Wednesday’s game in our first installment of ‘Upon Further Review’:

Drew WillyTHERE WAS SOME CHATTER… during the early parts of Wednesday’s win, of the Alouettes starters out-playing the Bombers starters, based mostly on QB Kevin Glenn completing 14 of his 19 attempts for 135 yards and a TD in his stint at the controls, while Drew Willy was 3-of-6 for 52 yards.

Worth noting here: the Bomber defence also sacked Glenn twice and stopped the Als on a third-and-one gamble while the Bombers also had a spectacular Willy-to-Andrew Harris screen-pass TD wiped out by penalty.

Credit the Als starters, but it’s preseason so it might be time to pump the brakes on the alarm. If those numbers repeat in a couple of weeks at the home opener when the two meet, then the Bombers coaching staff will have reason to be concerned.

SERGIO CASTILLO IS A REALIST… that much was obvious in chatting to him after the game. The second-year Bomber kicker – Sergio Castillohe suited up for four games last season after replacing Lirim Hajrullahu and connected on 10 of 13 field goal attempts (76.9%) – missed his first try Wednesday, but then hit from 35, 44, 39 and 49 yards.

But he also knows Justin Medlock, who is only the most accurate kicker in Canadian Football League history, has his name written in ink atop the Bomber specialist depth chart.

“If I was Winnipeg I would have brought him in, too,” said Castillo with a chuckle after the game. “He’s the best and he’s proven it for years. I’m just blessed and fortunate to learn from him as much as I can. He’s really helping me out.”

Castillo’s numbers, if you include the preseason, are now 14 of 18 (77.8%). And while he might not have a future with the Bombers, those numbers will get him noticed.

 


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NO WORD YET… on the extent of the knee injury to veteran offensive lineman Jeff Keeping, but if you saw the incident and then saw him limping off the field, it’s hard to imagine the news will be good. He is to be evaluated today, but O’Shea has already ruled him out for Monday’s preseason finale in Ottawa against the REDBLACKS. The injury hurts not just because Keeping is one of those popular vets who instantly meshes with guys in the room, but also in terms of how it could affect what the Bombers have planned for their O-line. The plan is to start three Canadians in right tackle Patrick Neufeld, guard Sukh Chungh and centre Matthias Goossen, and Keeping was signed as a free agent to be the veteran piece

to provide stability and depth (he has 100 career starts).

That leaves the Bombers with 2016 draft picks Michael Couture and Zach Intzandt behind Neufeld, Chungh and Goossen. But with the depth of the American O-linemen in camp, should another injury occur to a Canadian, the club might have to consider starting three imports up front. That’s why adding homegrown talent like Andrew Harris and Keith Shologan in the offseason was so critical – it gives the team more flexibility with the ratio.

Adrian HubbardONE OF THE PLAYERS WHO POPPED OFF THE PAGE… in Wednesday’s win was defensive end Adrian Hubbard, the former two-year starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Hubbard had two tackles and a sack in his stint on the D-line, but was hardly thumping his chest in celebration afterward.

“I wouldn’t say I’m happy, because I’m not satisfied, either,” said Hubbard, who is a towering 6-6 and 248 pounds. “I think I did OK, but there’s room for improvement. I worked behind Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers (during his days with the Green Bay Packers) and they showed me how to be a pro.

“I hope I helped myself. I’m here competing with a lot of other guys and the CFL is right there with the NFL in terms of talent.”

Here’s an example of the kind of attention to detail Hubbard learned from Matthews and Peppers: Tuesday night he watched three games of the Alouettes offence and then studied Denver Broncos game film, believing the attack Montreal offensive coordinator Anthony Calvillo runs is very similar.


HE WAS KICKING HIMSELF…
afterward for the pass drop that led to an interception near the Montreal goal line, but receiver/returner Quincy McDuffie helped himself with his work in Wednesday’s win. Quincy Mcduffie (14) and Jewel Hampton (29) during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field on Wednesday June 8, 2016 in Winnipeg, MB. (Photo: Johany Jutras)He showed explosiveness in the return game that showcased why the Hamilton Tiger-Cats kept him around as insurance behind Brandon Banks and then helped his cause by being a threat as a receiver.

“That’s not like me,” said McDuffie. “But it happens. It’s something I’ll work on. I’ll watch the film, evaluate myself and come out better next time.

“As far as the returns, I was hoping to take one to the house, but I thought I did pretty well. The next go-round that (scoring a TD) will be my goal.”

THE LAST WORD… from Coach O’Shea’s press conference last Wednesday:

“You like to see guys that are gamers. We do all this practicing and you can throw a bit of it out the window when guys show up to play when the lights are on and the opponent is out there trying to get ‘em. It happens with both teams. You like this guy, this guy… and then come game time, you really like them. I think when we watch that game film we’re going to have more gamers than maybe we’ve had.”

NEXT: The Bombers have a quick turnaround before lining up again Monday in Ottawa. All CFL teams must reduce their rosters to 65 on June 14th and then down to their 46-man (plus 10-player practice roster) by June 19th.


 

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