July 14, 2023

Game Preview | WPG at OTT

Scene setter:

The Blue Bombers roll into the nation’s capital on a two-game winning streak and after having surrendered just 14 points in those two victories. Winnipeg has won its last four visits to Ottawa and have eight wins in their last nine games overall against the RedBlacks.

Ottawa is 1-1 in its last two games and will start its fourth different QB on Saturday in Dustin Crum – along with Nick Arbuckle, Tyrie Adams and Jeremiah Masoli – which is a first in CFL history through the first five games.

The Basics

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m. CDT, TD Place, Ottawa
U.S. and International live streaming:
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: June 17, 2022, at Ottawa: Blue Bombers 19 RedBlacks 12.
PlayNow odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by 9.5 points. For more betting options, click here.

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The QBs

  • Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 65-37 in his career and a ridiculous 37-6 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories. Collaros is 4-3 all-time in games against the RedBlacks.
  • Ottawa will roll with Dustin Crum at QB. This will be his first CFL start. He rushed for 91 yards and a TD in coming off the bench in last week’s loss to Hamilton, while completing 14-of-21 passes for 149 yards with zero TDs and two interceptions.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 86-59. O’Shea’s 86 wins as a Blue Bombers head coach has him tied with Cal Murphy on the club’s all-time list, behind only Bud Grant (102). O’Shea’s teams have a combined 9-5 record vs. the RedBlacks.

Ottawa: Bob Dyce is 5-11 in his career as a head coach in both Ottawa and Saskatchewan and is 1-1 vs. Winnipeg.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • The Blue Bombers have made just one roster change from last week’s win over Calgary, with WR Carlton Agudosi added to the lineup in place of injured kick returner/receiver Janarion Grant, who has been moved to the six-game injured list.
  • Greg McCrae will handle Grant’s return duties. He returned a missed field goal 102 yards and one punt for nine years after Grant’s injury last week. The Blue Bombers do have other candidates, too, with Nic Demski, Demerio Houston and Abu Daramy-Swaray all getting reps and Evan Holm also having some experience in that department.
  • Grant’s addition to the six-game injured list means the club now has nine players in that group. The good news? Four of those players – DB Jamal Parker, LB Kyrie Wilson, FB Konner Burtenshaw and CB Winston Rose – all returned to practice this week. Also included on the six-game are FB Mike Miller and LB Shayne Gauthier, while DB Redha Kramdi is on the one-game.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Sergio Castillo, K

The Blue Bombers veteran kicker has connected on all 11 of his field goal attempts this year for the club and is on a streak of 21 dating back to last season with Edmonton.

“I’m a very good environment,” Castillo told reporters after practice Thursday. “I’ve always been confident in myself, and I want every kick. I want every game to be a game winner. That’s just me. I crave those.

“But, more importantly, I’m at peace. I’m just very at peace with myself. Before I was confident and nervous and now, I don’t know what has been clicking… maybe it’s just the experience and I think a lot has to do with the environment, the coaches, the players. I’m just at peace.

“And if I miss, it happens. No one’s perfect but at the end of the day, the goal is to make everyone.”

Scouting the RedBlacks

The RedBlacks were dealt a devastating hand last week with the injury to Masoli, their QB1 as he was lost for the season to an Achilles injury – a year to the day after a leg injury had kept him out of the lineup. With the club having run out Arbuckle as an option and then Adams – also now lost to the season – the starting gig now belongs to Crum.

“He’s athletic, makes plays with his legs and he’s just young and inexperienced,” said Blue Bombers defensive coordinator Richie Hall earlier this week. “He’s an athlete. He got an opportunity to play (in the loss to Hamilton) and I thought he did a solid job and gave them an opportunity to win.”

There’s an easy assumption that the Blue Bombers will bring everything at Crum to make sure he doesn’t get comfortable. Countering that will be the gameplan Ottawa offensive coordinator Khari Jones might come up with for his young pivot.

“You wonder how they’re going to call the game. What are they going to do, what is he most comfortable with?” said Hall. “There’s a difference going in the game when he did versus having a week to prepare where (the gameplan) is tailor-made to what he does and what he feels confident with.

“Regardless of who they have out there, this is what we have to do to give us a chance: stop the run, minimize the big play – he brings that extra element of making plays with his legs, so that’s one of the things that is different than if we had to play Masoli. But there were other things that Masoli did that if he was playing, we would have had to have been conscious of.

“It’s not what they do. It’s our DNA and what we’re supposed to do and what we challenge our guys to do every week. It’s not about them, it’s about us because we can’t control them.”

Ottawa’s defence has allowed just 14 points in its last two games – its lowest two-game total since 2018. The RedBlacks have surrendered TD drives on just five of 59 opponents possessions, ranking second in the CFL.


Zach Collaros now has 102 career starts with his .637 winning percentage (65-37) ranking sixth all-time amongst CFL pivots with 100 career starts.

The top five: 1. Bo Levi Mitchell (90-27-2, .765); 2. Doug Flutie (94-33, .740); 3. Tom Wilkinson (79-33-6, .695); 4. Tracy Ham (115-60-1, .656); 5. Russ Jackson (85-47-5, .639).


  • The Blue Bombers are 13-4 in their last 17 road games dating to September of 2021. Ottawa is 1-1 at home, having recently ended a 13-game losing streak with a 26-7 win over Edmonton.
  • Blue Bombers DE Willie Jefferson has six sacks this season and now has 63 in his career – ranking 40th all-time in CFL history. He has three multiple-sack games this season and has also swatted down four passes.