WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (5-1) at EDMONTON ELKS (2-3)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:45 p.m. CT
TV: TSN, ESPN+
Radio: 680 CJOB; Sirius XM (Canada Talks, channel 167).
BetRegal.ca odds: Blue Bombers by 6.5 points.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 3W. Edmonton: 1L
Home/Road: The Bombers are 1-1 on the road this season with a loss in Toronto and a win in Regina in the Labour Day Classic. Edmonton has lost all three of its games this year at home, falling to Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary. Including a 27-24 loss to Saskatchewan in Week 20 of 2019, the Elks are in a four-game home losing streak.
Head to head: This is the first of three meetings against the Elks in the next 28 days. The Bombers have the bye next week before travelling to Vancouver for an Oct. 1st date. That’s followed by a home and home series with the Elks, beginning with a visit by Edmonton on Oct. 8th and a return to Alberta on Oct. 15th.
“The last two weeks have been high emotion, high intensity, but at the end of the day we still have a lot more football to play,” said Bombers slotback Nic Demski earlier this week. “That’s just one of the things Osh (head coach Mike O’Shea) has reminded us. Us, as players, we know that, too. We have a bye week next week so it’s time to let it all hang out and then take our rest week next week.”
- The Bombers will start veteran Zach Collaros. He is 40-33 in his career starts and 9-1 as a Bomber. Collaros is 4-6 in career starts vs. Edmonton.
- The Elks counter with Taylor Cornelius after veteran Trevor Harris was moved to the six-game injured list on Thursday. This will be his first CFL start. He was 1-4 with Tampa in the XFL in 2020 before the league shutdown due to the pandemic.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea: 61-53; vs. Edm.: 6-8
Edmonton: Jamie Elizondo: 2-3; vs. Wpg.: 0-0
Blue Roster Shuffle
The Bombers have made just one roster changes from the Banjo Bowl. Coming aboard is new kicker Ali Mourtada; off is DL Tobi Antigha. Expect Mourtada to handle all field goals and converts as well as kickoffs while Marc Liegghio will continue to punt.
- Andrew Harris needs 47 yards rushing to move past Kelvin Anderson into 6th spot on the CFL’s all-time rushing list. Harris is at 9,294 yards; Anderson is at 9,340. Ranking first to fifth on that list are: Mike Pringle (16,425), George Reed (16,116), Damon Allen (11,920), Johnny Bright (10,909) and Charles Roberts (10,285).
- Harris passed Darren Flutie last week to move into 6th spot on the CFL’s all-time yards from scrimmage list (rushing and receiving). He is now at 14,440 and Allen Pitts is fifth at 14,886.
- One more on Harris: he needs one yard rushing, receiving or returning to move ahead of Dick Shatto into 11th place on the CFL’s all-time combined yardage list (rushing, receiving and returning yards). Harris is at 15,716; Shatto at 15,717. Number 10 on that list is Milt Stegall at 16,105.
- Zach Collaros moved past Jerry Keeling (Calgary, Ottawa, Hamilton) into the Top 40 of the CFL’s all-time passing yardage list last week. Collaros now has 18,458 yards passing in his career, leaving him just 34 yards shy of passing former Montreal-Saskatchewan-Toronto-Calgary QB Joe Barnes into 39thspot.
- Adam Bighill now has 711 career defensive tackles and needs 12 more to pass Kevin Eiben into 9th spot on the CFL’s all-time list.
3 Bombers to Watch
#88 Rasheed Bailey, SB: He’s morphed into a solid contributor in the receiving corps. Currently tied with Nic Demski for second on the club with 21 receptions – Kenny Lawler leads with 32 – six of which have converted second-down situations.
#24 Mike Miller, FB: Already the CFL’s all-time leader in special-teams tackles, Miller has found another level through the first six games of ’21. He’s already registered 15 tackles on special teams – six more than second on the list, Calgary’s Branden Dozier. Just to put that number into perspective, Miller had a career-best 25 tackles in 2019 in a full 18-game schedule.
#16 Mike Jones, CB: Jones has started games at both corner and ‘Dime’ and has 37 defensive plays through six games – 29 tackles, two forced fumbles, four pass knockdowns and two tackles for loss. That total is tied for fourth-most in the CFL.
#42 Ali Mourtada, PK:
He’s 31 and has bounced around indoor/arena leagues, had looks from the XFL and NFL and has been to countless free agent kicking camps. He also comes highly recommended to the Bombers. Opportunity is wrapping loudly on the door here for him.
The Bombers are continuing a stretch of their schedule in which they will become very familiar with their opponents.
They just swept the Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl series with Saskatchewan, face Edmonton in three times in the next month, B.C. twice and then a home-and-home with Montreal before winding up the regular season with a visit to Calgary.
“When you do have success it doesn’t mean you’re going to have success in the second game,” said Bombers secondary coach Jordan Younger. “It’s understanding that whoever wins the first game goes into the second game with a blind spot, or some blindspots. You know (the opponent) has to change some things, but you don’t know what they’re going to change and that, to me, is also one of the bigger challenges of having a three-game series. You can see a completely different offence from one game to the next.”
“We’ve got a good relationship on and off the field. Zach’s a great guy. I love him to death. He gives me so many chances to be great and I just want to capitalize on those chances.” – Bombers receiver Kenny Lawler on Zach Collaros. Lawler leads the CFL with 15-second down-conversion receptions, accounting for 47 per cent of his catches.
- The Bombers have still only allowed three fourth-quarter points all season – a field goal vs. Calgary in an 18-16 win in Week 4.
- Winnipeg has scored the most points (136) and surrendered the fewest (76) this season, for a +60 point differential.
- Jackson Jeffcoat is tied for the league lead with five sacks and leads the CFL with four forced fumbles.
- The Bombers hold a CFL-best +12 turnover ratio; Edmonton is at -6.
- Winnipeg held Saskatchewan to eight and nine points over the last two weeks. The last time the Bombers held an opponent to under 10 points in three straight games was in August of 1966.