GAME #9 | WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (8-0) at MONTREAL ALOUETTES (2-5)
Kickoff: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. CT, Molson Stadium, Montreal, QC
TV: TSN; ESPN+
Radio: 680 CJOB
Home/Road: The Blue Bombers are 5-0 on the road this year with victories in Ottawa, Toronto, B.C., Edmonton and Calgary. Montreal is 1-1 at home in 2022.
BetRegal.ca odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by five points. For more of Bet Regal’s numbers on this game, click here.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 8W; Montreal: 1L.
Take note: The Bombers have lost their last two trips to Montreal – a 28-14 setback in their second-last regular season game a year ago and the infamous ‘Montreal Meltdown’ in 2019, a game in which the Als scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 38-37 victory. Of note: Zach Collaros did not start either of those games, with Sean McGuire taking the first snap last year and Chris Streveler in the 2019 game. The Blue Bombers will have started four different quarterbacks in their last five visits to Montreal – Collaros tonight, McGuire, Streveler (in 2019 and 2018) and Matt Nichols in 2017.
- Montreal starts veteran pivot Trevor Harris. He is 42-42-2 in his career and 3-6 in his career in starts vs. Winnipeg.
- Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 54-34 in his career and now a remarkable 25-2 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 75-55. O’Shea’s 75 wins as a Blue Bombers head coach ranks third on the club’s all-time list, behind only Bud Grant (102) and Cal Murphy (86).
Montreal: Danny Maciocia has a career record of 34-40-1 in his days as a head coach, first in Edmonton and now with the Alouettes. The club is 1-2 since Maciocia, also the GM, fired Khari Jones and defensive coordinator Barron Miles.
Blue Roster Shuffle
The Bombers depth chart features two changes from last week. Coming aboard are DE Jackson Jeffcoat and DT Ricky Walker. Off are DEs Cedric Wilcots II and L.B. Mack III.
“I’m sure he’ll be ready to go and he’s always angry – especially after having to sit out for so long,” said O’Shea when asked what he expected in Jeffcoat’s return after missing three games. “I expect the best. He’s one of the best edge rushers in the CFL. He’s always a great compliment to Willie (Jefferson), too, and they’ll make something happen, I’m sure.”
Safety Malcolm Thompson, FYI, was moved from the one-game injured to six-game injured list, meaning Nick Hallett will get his second start.
BLUE BOMBER SPOTLIGHT: DE Jackson Jeffcoat
A CFL All-Star a year ago, Jeffcoat has been out of the lineup since the win over Calgary in Winnipeg on July 15th.
“It’s never fun but watching us win has been great,” Jeffcoat said. “In this sport you’re always going to play banged up. After Day 1 of training camp, everybody’s got something going on. You find a new ‘healthy.’ It’s, ‘OK, I’m healthy. I’m good to go.’ That’s really how it is. But when I step out on the field, I’m ready to go Jackson Jeffcoat and do my thing out there.”
Zach Collaros and receiver Dalton Schoen were both named CFL Top Performers for the month of July on Wednesday, along with Ottawa receiver Jaelon Acklin. Collaros threw for 1,061 yards with 11 TDs and two interceptions in the month; Schoen had 19 receptions for 367 yards and five TDs.
- The Blue Bombers have been 8-0 to start a season three times in franchise history – this year, 1960 when they rocketed to a 10-0 start before finishing 14-2 and in 1939 when the club opened with an 8-0 record.
- Winnipeg has won five road games to open 2022. The last time they won their first five road games to open a season was in 1960, which was the start of their CFL record of 20 consecutive road victories that ran through to 1962.
- This game is the first of a home-and-home for the Blue Bombers and Alouettes and the sixth time they will engage in back-to-back games with each other. Montréal has the only sweep (2003), with the other four being splits.
- Collaros threw for four TDs in last week’s win in Calgary, his fifth time accomplishing that feat since 2015. That’s the most in the CFL over that span, with Mike Reilly having done it four times and Bo Levi Mitchell, Trevor Harris, Jeremiah Masoli and Kevin Glenn all accomplishing the feat three times.
Jackson Jeffcoat on the Blue Bombers stretch of five of six on the road over a 32-day span:
“We’re not very fatigued at all. We love this. You can’t wish for anything better than this because we’re able to show it doesn’t matter what’s thrown at us. Whatever happens to us, we’re going to keep playing, keep playing hard, keep going. It doesn’t matter.
“You guys hear it all the time, that ‘next man up’ mentality. It doesn’t matter who’s up, guys are paying attention, guys are studying, guys are making sure there’s no drop off when they’re in. That’s what we want to continue to do – make sure that there’s no drop off and we’re playing at a high level every game.”
No team led by more than seven points in last week’s Blue Bombers-Stampeders classic, a game which also featured seven lead changes. That’s one short of the most ever in a Blue Bombers game – there were eight in a 49-41 win over Saskatchewan on September 8, 1991. How rare are games with seven lead changes? There have been just 23 of the 5,822 games back to 1907.
There had been a lot of opinions on Brady Oliveira’s start to 2022, but his last two games – including 110 yards against the Stampeders last weekend – have showcased his skillset.
And it’s drawn high praise from Collaros.
“Setting the tone and bringing his physicality to the game has been great,” said Collaros of the importance of Oliveira’s work along the ground behind the O-line. “It’s something that really gets the offence going. As I say to you guys often, and I said to him the other day, ‘You were unbelievable running in the game, but you were really unbelievable in pass protection.’ He always does a really good job in that and takes pride in that, and I know the guys up front appreciate that and obviously I do as well.”
Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski when asked Wednesday if he feels teams have extra motivation and want to take their shot at the two-time defending champs, a perfect 8-0 to start the season:
“I feel it, yeah. Do I pay attention to it? Not really. I’m not going to lie. When you start paying attention to what other teams want to do or how they approach you or approach the game then you lose sight of what you’re doing internally.
“That’s part of why we’re so effective and how we are – because we pay attention to what happens under our roof. We don’t pay attention to what any other team brings to the table. The formula’s working. Why change it?”