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June 10, 2016

WPG vs MTL game recap

during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field on Wednesday June 8, 2016 in Winnipeg, MB. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

June 8, 2016

Some lines were completely forgotten, others brutally flubbed. And so, as initial Canadian Football League dress rehearsals go, it pretty much met any and every expectation.

All that said, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 36-13 sloppy-but-entertaining victory over the Montreal Alouettes in front of 23,334 at Investors Group Field Wednesday night did offer up enough to leave this team’s diehards wanting more.

Much more.

Quarterback Drew Willy started and exited without getting dinged, the spiffy new free agent additions flashed small sample size evidence of why so many in this town are giddy about their arrivals and – just as important – a handful of the newcomers did what they were supposed to do by popping off the page to make the coaches’ evaluations difficult.

Granted, the 2016 edition is still very much a work in progress and the club has little time to hone things further with the preseason finale going this Monday in Ottawa against the REDBLACKS. But a win is a win is a win, as the old saying goes, even if it is just an exhibition.

“There’s a lot to be happy about and there’s always stuff to correct, it’s the first exhibition game”

Mike O’Shea

“There’s some good film and as I said before, winning makes it easier to make those corrections… There’s a bunch of guys who made plays so when they watch film there’s going to be a little bit of pride. They all understand it’s just an exhibition game, but it’s still football. There’s still guys trying to hit you all the time and the other team’s trying to win, too.”

Andrew Harris

WHO STEPPED UP

Kicker Sergio Castillo: He might just be the longest of long shots in Bomber camp as he is battling the most accurate kicker in CFL history in Justin Medlock, but after missing his first attempt from 44 yards, he then connected on four straight from 35, 44, 39 and 49. Put it this way: he might be in tough here, but helped himself with his performance.

“I’m just thankful I got another opportunity after I missed the first one,” said Castillo. “You’re going to have misses here and there. I just saw it as an opportunity to bounce back.”

DL Adrian Hubbard: He can play both end and tackle and with the Bombers looking for someone to anchor the other side of the line opposite Jamaal Westerman, his first night’s work was solid.

RB Timothy Flanders: Benefitted from a replay that overturned a fumble, but showed a burst and later scored on a one-yard TD at the end of the first half.

Quincy Mcduffie (14) and Jewel Hampton (29) during the game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Investors Group Field on Wednesday June 8, 2016 in Winnipeg, MB. (Photo: Johany Jutras)WR/KR Quincy McDuffie: Made one glaring error, and it likely cost him a TD, when he whiffed on a pass near the goal line that was intercepted. But showed explosiveness in the return game that hinted at why the Hamilton Tiger-Cats kept him around as insurance to Brandon Banks the last couple of years.

– QB’s Dominique Davis and Bryan Bennett: They’re battling each other for the third-string gig behind Drew Willy and Matt Nichols and were both solid. Yes, it’s only the preseason, but Davis was way more decisive than in his first CFL start last November in Toronto.

And Bennett, the hard-throwing product of Southeastern Louisiana and Oregon, ran for a score and hooked up with Fred Williams for a 28-yard TD inside the final three minutes.

“I don’t look back at old games, but I did want to build off that,” said Davis, when asked if it helped to have last year’s start under his belt. “I just take it one day at a time and transfer it from practice to the game.

“There were some good things and some things I need to work on, but I’ll get in the film room tomorrow and work from there.”

New guys Ryan Smith, Andrew Harris, Euclid Cummings, Medlock and Keith Shologan: Smith pulled in a 32-yard pass from Willy, Harris had a superb catch-and-run TD wiped out by a penalty; Cummings was a beast on a third-and-short stop while Medlock crushed a 47-yarder to open the scoring. Weston Dressler, FYI, suited up but was limited to holding for Medlock and did not take any offensive snaps. He’s been a bit banged up in the last few days.

“This is huge, it’s huge,” said Harris. “This city needs it, this club needs it. I’ve been telling the guys, ‘Get used to it.’ The feeling of winning is something you need to get used to and you’ve got to understand how to do it and appreciate it.”

 

3-MINUTE DRILL

OUCH REPORT:

OL Jeff Keeping went down in a heap with a gruesome knee injury and he will be evaluated further in the next couple of days.

The Bombers brought him in as a veteran Canadian piece for the O-line and while he was able to limp off under his own steam, the injury did not look good. Winnipeg will start three Canadians along the O-line in Patrick Neufeld, Matthias Goossen and Sukh Chungh and, after Keeping, has 2016 draft picks Michael Couture and Zach Intzandt as reserves.

“We brought Jeff Keeping in for a reason,” said O’Shea. “We’d like him to be healthy, not just for us but for Jeff Keeping.”

BLUE PIVOTAL NUMBERS:

– Drew Willy started for the Bombers and completed three of six for 52 yards before exiting after the first quarter. He had a TD strike to Andrew Harris wiped out by penalty, but moved around the pocket efficiently and got rid of the ball quickly.Drew Willy

– Matt Nichols’ stint at the controls was limited – he completed his only pass for seven yards – and barely got his jersey sweaty

– The CFL new stats system was down for most of the night, so the numbers for Dominique Davis and Bryan Bennett were not available. But both did enough to complicate the QB picture behind Willy and Nichols.

And that’s a good thing.

“They don’t need to have it shoved in their faces that it’s a battle,” said O’Shea. “But they understand that three guys dress. They both played very well and made the plays they were asked to make. And good for them. I think that’s great. They’re competing and handling it extremely well. They know it’s part of the business and you love it when guys get opportunities and make good on them.”

QUOTABLE:

O’Shea, when asked about the play of Andrew Harris, especially on the screen-pass TD that was called back by penalty:

“It was good.”

Reporter: Can you expand on that a little bit?

O’Shea: “Really good.”


 

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