June 30, 2023

Game Preview | WPG at MTL

The Basics

Kickoff: Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT; Percival Molson Stadium, Montreal.
TV: TSN, RDS, CBS Sports Network
International live streaming: here
Radio: 680 CJOB, CFL on Sirius
Last meeting: August 11, 2022: Montreal 20 Winnipeg 17 (OT)
PlayNow odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by six points

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The QBs

  • Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 63-37 in his career after making his 100th career start last week and is now a remarkable 35-6 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories. Collaros is 6-7 in his career vs. Montreal.
  • Montreal’s starter is veteran Cody Fajardo, who has a 29-17 record as a starter during his days with the Als, Saskatchewan Roughriders (he also played for B.C. and Toronto but did not make any starts). Fajardo is 2-6 all-time in starts vs. Winnipeg.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 84-59. O’Shea’s 84 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). His 84 coaching victories ranks him in a tie for 12th overall in CFL history with Tom Higgins (Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, 2001-15).

Montreal: Jason Maas is in his first season wearing the big head set in Montreal. He is 2-0 with the Alouettes and 41-33 overall, including his days with Edmonton (2016-19). He spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator in Saskatchewan.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • The Blue Bombers have made six changes to the roster from last week’s loss to B.C. – and there could be more with three players listed as ‘Game Time Decisions.’
  • Coming aboard are DE Jackson Jeffcoat, CB Demerio Houston, QB Dakota Prukop, OL Tui Eli, DT Cam Lawson, and SB Greg McCrae. Off are QB Tyrrell Pigrome, CB Desmond Lawrence, FB Damian Jackson, DT Miles Fox, DT Tanner Schmekel and OL Jakub Szott.
  • The ‘GTDs’ are SB Nic Demski – whose partner is expecting – along with DB Redha Kramdi and WR Carlton Agudosi.
  • Adam Bighill, who didn’t practice all week, is listed as the starting middle linebacker while RB Brady Oliveira – also limited to the role of spectator all week – is starting in the backfield.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive end

The veteran end has been pulled off the six-game injured list early and immediately improves the team’s talent and depth at the spot. Rookie Celestin Haba has three sacks in as many games – only B.C.’s Mathieu Betts, with five, has more – but the Blue Bombers have successfully used a rotation at DL over the last few years that helps keep bodies fresh. Winnipeg will have seven DL dressed for Saturday, also including Willie Jefferson, Jake Thomas, Ricky Walker, Cam Lawson and Anthony Bennett.

“It feels really good to be back and getting the chance to play,” said Jeffcoat. “It’s always frustrating when you have to sit out and watch. But I take the time to make sure I’m making sure that my guys are doing their things right, to be an extra set of eyes to help out however I can.”

More on Jeffcoat’s return in this interview:

Scouting the Alouettes

The Alouettes are the early-season surprise in the CFL, having jumped to a 2-0 start with wins over Hamilton and Ottawa when so many predicted doom and gloom when the year started.

QB Cody Fajardo, who signed with Montreal after his years in Saskatchewan, leads the CFL with a 73.3 completion percentage and QB rating of 129.2 while working with new Als coach Jason Maas. The Als have also been productive offensively despite having three starting receivers in Greg Ellingson, Tyson Philpot and Reggie White, Jr. all on the injured list.

Montreal has also been stingy defensively even though their two opponents in allowing just 12 points per game ­ – Hamilton (0-3) and Ottawa (0-2) are winless and have had QB issues.

“Right now, I think they’ve got confidence,” said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “They seem to be flying around, they seem to be playing football the right way. When you watch the film, they’re getting after it. They’re riding a good swell. They’re a good football team. They’ve got good players, but they’re playing with a lot of confidence, too.

“(Defensive coordinator) Noel Thorpe’s a good coach and they’ve got it all going on right now. They’re fun to watch.”


  • Saturday’s matchup will mark the first time the Alouettes have hosted a Canada Day game. The Blue Bombers have been involved in three Canada Day games since 2010 – knocking off the Saskatchewan Roughriders 43-30 in OT in 2017, falling to the Calgary Stampeders 36-22 at McMahon Stadium in 2016 and beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-16 in the Hammer in 2011.
  • Through three weeks of CFL action the road teams hold an 8-4 edge in games.
  • The Blue Bombers have lost two of their last three games in Montreal but did win there 35-20 a year ago. Winnipeg is 7-3 in its last 10 overall vs. the Alouettes.
  • Montreal’s D has allowed just 24 points through two games this year. Their opponents have had 29 possessions and have scored zero TDs.
  • Winnipeg’s Sergio Castillo has an active streak of 17 straight field goals dating to September 16 of last season.


The Blue Bombers have not had consecutive losses with Zach Collaros at the controls since his arrival in October of 2019 at the CFL trade deadline. He has lost just five regular season games as Winnipeg’s starter and worth noting: in games following his first four losses, he has thrown seven touchdowns to two interceptions, while registering a 113.2 QB rating.

Milestone Watch

  • Adam Bighill has 832 tackles in his career and needs just two more to pass Solomon Elimimian (833) for 6th place on the CFL’s all-time list.
  • Collaros reached the 25,000 career passing yards mark last week and at 25,185 yards and is now just eight short of Condredge Holloway for 21st on the all-time list.