December 4, 2021

Quick Hits | Western Final Countdown — Saturday

Quick Hits from Bomberland on Saturday after the club’s closed-to-the media practice session in advance of Sunday’s Western Final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders…

THE HARRIS WATCH, PART 4: The Blue Bombers unveiled their depth chart for the Western Final early Saturday morning and it lists Andrew Harris as the starting running back — but with a ‘GTD’ — game-time decision — note beside his name.
And so whether the future hall of famer suits up or not on Sunday will remain a mystery for at least one more day. Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said he was not at practice on Saturday after practising fully on Wednesday, being limited at Thursday’s closed session and then not practising at all on Friday.
“We’ll get him in here tomorrow and get him with Al (Couture, Head Athletic Therapist),” said O’Shea.
Asked who would have the final call on whether Harris would suit up or not, O’Shea added:
“I guess it would be me. But it’s not a dictatorship here. We take in information, we talk to the player, we talk to Al and we come to a good decision for the team.
“That’s how they all work. If he’s cleared then ultimately it’s my decision to see what’s best for the team at this point. But to get to that decision to clear him is Al and the player. It doesn’t matter what I want; it’s what’s good for the player at that point.”
Both Brady Oliveira and Johnny Augustine are listed behind Harris on the depth chart. O’Shea was asked if there was a value in having Harris dressed and then have him play in just specific situations.
“We don’t really work that way,” O’Shea said. “If you’re going to be cleared, you’re cleared for the entire game. There’s no, ‘Oh, I could play 10 plays’ or ‘I could play this many snaps on offence’ or ‘I could play, but I’m not playing special teams.’ It doesn’t work that way. If you’re good to go, you’re good to go.”

WEATHER REPORT: Not surprisingly the forecast for game day keeps changing. And in this case, changing for the worse. The Environment Canada forecast:
‘Periods of snow. Blowing snow in outlying areas late in the afternoon. Amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind northeast 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming north 50 gusting to 70 in the afternoon. High minus 5. Wind chill minus 13 in the morning and minus 24 in the afternoon.’

“I came into this game preparing for the worst and this definitely isn’t the worst when it comes to what I think December could be in Winnipeg,” said all-star linebacker Adam Bighill. “Regardless of the conditions, as you get into playoff football teams have got to be able to run the football. It becomes harder for teams to secure the football so, on defence, we always anticipate we should be forcing more takeaways. That’s pretty par for the course on playoff football in the CFL.”
Added O’Shea, who believes practising in these conditions hardens his squad:
“The majority of games in the CFL are played outdoors. You want to be playing at this time of year — I know it’s later than ever — and there will be decisions that will have to change based on the weather but that’s not unlike any other situation. If it’s a torrential downpour the game’s still going on. If it’s really windy in the summer you’ve got to make different decisions. Both teams will be affected by it in one way shape or form and whoever handles it the best will fare better, I imagine. The game’s going to get played and under those conditions we’ll see how it unfolds.”

LET’S DO THIS: The Bombers have had this date circled on the calendar for eons, ever since clinching first place in the West Division way back on October 23rd. That’s a lot of waiting.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, dedication, grinding go on here in this building,” said defensive end Willie Jefferson, a West Division All-Star. “We’re just ready to go out and give our fans and give the CFL everything they’ve been wanting. It’s been a while since we hosted a (playoff) home game (since the 2017 Western Semi-Final).. we finally got one. I know the city is behind us. We’re ready.”
The Bombers have been made 8.5-point favourites.

“No pressure,” said Jefferson. “This is what we’ve been waiting for, this is what we’ve been playing hard for, watching film, lifting weights… everything. This team is ready. Locked in. Focused. We’ve been watching so much film, doing so much talking between one another… yeah, man, it’s time to stop talking and play some ball.”

QUOTABLE: Heavy favourites? Here’s Bighill on what that means in the Bombers locker room:
“It’s interesting. One, because in our locker room we don’t think we’ve won anything. That’s one of the best things about our vibe, our feel in the locker room – every week it’s about going 1-0. This week it’s no different. All we talk about is work. All I see people doing is working and that gives me confidence. That’s the confidence we come out and play with every single game. We talk about earning it and taking it and so tomorrow our expectation is the work we put in to earn it and the work we put in collectively is to go out there and take it. So, whether we’re the favourites or not it doesn’t even enter into our locker room when it comes to how we go out on game day.”