June 20, 2024

Game Preview | B.C. @ WPG

Dalton Schoen at practice this week -- photos by Cameron Bartlett

Game #3: Lions (1-1) at Blue Bombers (0-2)

Kickoff: Friday, June 21st, 7:30 p.m. CDT; Princess Auto Stadium
TV/Streaming: TSN 1/3, RDS; CFL+
Radio: 680 CJOB
Streaks: Wpg: 2L; B.C.: 1W
Key links:
Transportation and parking info
Ticket info
The game will feature a video tribute to Andrew Harris at halftime. Harris officially retired this offseason as a member of the Blue Bombers and will be signing autographs in the tailgate area from 5:45-7 p.m. The club will also be wearing the star-blanket logo created for them by Dene Sinclair on their helmets as part of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Play Now

Scene Setter

Tyrell Ford will step up and own it. His first start this season was, well, to use his own words – ‘it didn’t start too great.’

Yet his second start at corner for the Blue Bombers was considerably better, so much so that he was named to the CFL’s Pro Football Focus Team of the Week and selected as the ‘Coverage Player of the Week’ after allowing just one reception for 17 yards on a second-and-20 in the loss to the Ottawa RedBlacks.

“Week 2 was a bit better,” said Ford in a chat with “Both games we lost, so it wasn’t enough. We’ve got to find a little bit more somewhere and get in the win column. I’ve got Evan (Holm) and Redha (Kramdi) communicating to me on every play and so that makes my job pretty easy. It’s going to get better.”

Tyrell Ford

It could be said Ford and his work so far in his second year is emblematic of this Blue Bombers team as a whole – it is very much a work in progress as the veterans scramble to find consistency in their games and the new faces attempt to learn on the job ASAP.

The Blue Bombers’ first pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, 13th overall, Ford’s athletic gifts drew enough interest from down south that the University of Waterloo product got NFL looks from the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers before he arrived in Winnipeg for training camp. He dressed for every game in 2022 and made his first start in the regular season finale, flashing enough in his spot duty that the Green Bay Packers came calling that offseason. Ford spent training camp with the squad last year before being among their final cuts at the end of August.

Changes in the Blue Bombers secondary this winter with Demerio Houston signing in Calgary, the team moving on from Winston Rose and then a camp injury to Jamal Parker offered him an opportunity at a starting role and Ford grabbed it from the first day of camp.

“I was telling the guys leading up to Week 1 that I was just excited to be playing a game that actually means something,” he said. “I mean, the two preseason games were cool, but I played in two preseason games in the NFL as well. It’s nice to play in a game that mattered.

“The whole NFL experience was a big learning curve in terms of the terminology and learning more about being a pro. I had a really good offseason training back in Waterloo with Anesu Latmore (heading into his fourth year with the Warriors). We worked really hard.”

A product of Niagara Falls and the twin brother to Edmonton Elks quarterback Tre Ford, Tyrell is a CFL rarity as a Canadian starting at the cornerback spot – a storyline at which he simply shrugs his shoulders.

“Some people talk about it, but the biggest thing for me is being a good teammate for the guys around me,” he said. “As far as being a Canadian corner, I guess it’s cool to talk about but that doesn’t matter to me. You guys in the media can talk about it.

“All I think about is if I mess up on a play the worst part is I’ve let down Evan beside me, or I’ve let down Redha and they’re counting on me. It’s coming. Like I said, it’ll get better.”


The Blue Bombers have made six changes to the depth chart this week. On are RB Brady Oliveira – listed behind Johnny Augustine – as well as RB/KR Chris Smith, DEs Ali Fayad and Owen Hubert, DT Jamal Woods and DB Michael Griffin. Off are DB Deatrick Nichols, LB Max Charbonneau, FB Michael Chris-Ike, WR/KR Myron Mitchell, DE Celestin Haba and DT Miles Fox.

Haba and Fox have officially been moved to the six-game injured list; Nichols to the one-game.

Marquis Bridges will start at halfback for Nichols, Devin Adams will start at end for Haba, with Woods moving into Fox’s spot at defensive tackle. Smith, who had a 109-yard punt return TD in the preseason, will handle the kick return chores and is listed third on the RB depth chart behind Augustine and Oliveira.


1. The Slow-Start Issues

We’ve been hammering away on this all week because, until it’s rectified, it is of serious concern to an offence that has yet to gain any traction whatsoever through two games – and especially early. Consider that Winnipeg has been outscored 17-3 in the first quarters of the first two games, including falling behind 10-0 last week. Through the two first halves this season the Blue Bombers have been outscored 30-15.

A deeper dive into the slow-starts with some first-quarter numbers:

  • Through two games the club has had seven first-quarter possessions with six ending in a punt and a seventh in a Sergio Castillo field goal.
  • Over those seven possessions, the Blue Bombers have seen Zach Collaros complete just 3-of-12 passes for 28 yards. There has been a drop and a sack and just 11 minutes and two seconds of possession compared to 18:58 for Montreal and Ottawa combined.
  • Winnipeg has managed just 18 offensive plays over those two first quarters for a grand total of 45 yards.

Simply put: not nearly good enough.

2. The VA Factor

The Blue Bombers have oodles of respect for B.C. Lions QB Vernon Adams, Jr. and rightfully so as he is one of the most dynamic players in the CFL and has already thrown for 640 yards and four touchdowns through two games.

The challenge now is to attempt to throw up a few road blocks in front of him.

“You have to be multiple. You’ve got to give him different looks,” said defensive coordinator Jordan Younger earlier this week. “He’s playing the best football of his career and my hat’s off to him in that sense. I’ve been here a long time and I’ve seen early Vernon and I think the No. 1 thing he’s improved is his decision making. He doesn’t put nearly as many balls at risk and taking care of the ball is what allows him to have success on drives, keep drives alive. You’ve always got to be careful of, one, his arm talent – he’s got a good arm, a live arm and can throw the ball from awkward positions. And then you’ve got to be aware of his ability to move and extend plays, and buy time for his receivers. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The Blue Bombers depth chart also showcases a potential vulnerability – or opportunity. With the injury to Nichols the club will start two CFL rookies on the one side of the secondary with Terrell Bonds at corner and Marquise Bridges making his first start at halfback.

Terrell Bonds

“I definitely would come after us,” said Bonds, with a grin. “Coming in as a rookie to this league, to this game – this is only going to be my third game of the season – if I was them I’d target a young corner as much as possible and see what he’s made of. For sure.

“But you definitely have to want to be targeted because that’s how you make plays for your team. I definitely look forward to that. I would love a game where I’m targeted because it would give me an opportunity to make plays for my team.”

3. Regroup, reload… smack somebody upside the head

The Blue Bombers have long been driven offensively by the engine up front that is the offensive line. And through the first two games of the season that engine has coughed and sputtered and only occasionally run smoothly. That’s somewhat understandable with two changes following the departure of Jermarcus Hardrick to Saskatchewan and Geoff Gray not returning – replaced by Eric Lofton and Liam Dobson, respectively – but the big eaters aren’t trotting that out as an excuse.

Chris Kolankowski (67) and the O-line at work

“The first game we didn’t look ourselves,” said centre Chris Kolankowski. “Second game we started to bring that back with a lot more physicality, a lot more fight. Individually, we took turns making maybe one mistake throughout the game and along the O-line if you make one mistake that’s bad. That’s what the game was – we started to show more physicality, more fight, in the run game and the passing game.

“We have two new guys and they’re playing well. We don’t know yet exactly where they’re going to be, but we just need more reps together. We’re all on the same page, we’re working our asses off, we’re in the gym… it’s just about executing on the field together now.”


“We’ve got to be better. We all know that. Look 0-2 is not an ideal start, but there are still 16 more games of football. Each year is different. Each team is different. You’ve got to find your stride. It could be this week, it could’ve been last week. So, we just try to get better every single day.

“Remember in 2019 we started off 6-0 and then things hit the fan with injuries. This is another test for us. This is our journey now but nobody is down. We understand our situation. Why wait? The time is now.” – Blue Bombers safety Brandon Alexander.