June 14, 2016

Upon Further Review – WPG at OTT

Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice, Dominique Davis (6), Julian Feoli-Gudino (83) during the pre-season game at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Monday June 13, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

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Attention, Bomber Nation: unclench those fists, reel in those twitchy trigger fingers and very slowly back away from the panic button.

Now. Breathe in… breathe out… and try – really, really try – to bring down those blood pressure levels.

Yes, it seems that Monday night’s 18-14 preseason loss to the Ottawa REDBLACKS has managed to dramatically crank up the angst among some Winnipeg Blue Bombers faithful.

The starting offence is already under the magnifying glass after struggling to find any kind of rhythm Monday, whiffing on a pair of third-and-inches attempts that would have kept drives alive and taking penalties that made the field longer.

Ryan Smith (12), Rory Kohlert (87), Matt Nichols (15), Darvin Adams (4), Drew Willy (5), and Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice during the pre-season game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Monday June 13, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

But it’s here where we all need to be reminded of one critical fact: the first real game is still more than a week away, with the Montreal Alouettes scheduled for a visit to Investors Group Field on June 24th. There’s work to do to be sure, and the Bombers admitted as much following Mondays game. But even in the struggles there is also a quiet confidence growing that the pieces and the scheme are in place to make it work.

“We’ve got a few things to work on here and there but, overall, I think we’re going to be pretty good,” said receiver Darvin Adams. “The biggest thing now is to stay together as a team and just keep working. People can overthink this but it’s just about working to get better.

“We’ll be ready on the 24th. Just know that: we’ll be ready.”

Darvin Adams

With all that in mind, here is our collection of notes, quotes and anecdotes from Monday’s game in our second postgame installment of ‘Upon Further Review’.


Drew Willy (5) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the pre-season game at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Monday June 13, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras)INTERESTING POINT MADE… by Drew Willy about the short yardage issues that popped up Monday night: with a new playbook being installed and just four days between the two preseason games, it means it was an aspect of the offence that hasn’t been given a high priority. Yet.

“It’s tough. I’ve been in that situation as the short-yardage quarterback before. You’ve got to take a lot of pride in it,” said Willy. “As an offence we probably haven’t been practicing it enough yet because we’re working on different things. But once you get your team set you really get your short yardage package and all the guys that will be out there. I can see why it’s tough in preseason.

“We’ll get it figured out and make sure we get those.”

THERE WERE OTHER ISSUES OFFENSIVELY… including an inability to establish a run game as Winnipeg rushed 21 times for 82 yards – just 3.9 yards per carry. But, again, preseason.

Andrew Harris (33) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the pre-season game at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Monday June 13, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras)“We didn’t put too much in for these two games,” said Andrew Harris, who carried four times for just seven yards. “It was pretty vanilla. The biggest thing is we’ve got to eliminate the mistakes, but that just comes with time and getting more reps. We’ve got 11 days now to deal with those things.

“We had a couple of third downs we didn’t convert and the run game was a little tough. That’s how it goes. It’s tough to judge where you’re at in the preseason because everything is vanilla. It’s almost two different speeds out there with the different guys that are in there. Personally, to take some hits and get some live reps is all you can ask for. And, to come out healthy, that’s the biggest thing.”

THE BOMBERS LEFT A PILE OF DEFENSIVE LINEMEN… back home for this trip, electing to rest Jamaal Westerman, Keith Shologan, Euclid Cummings and Jake Thomas. That left the door wide open for the other D-line candidates to step up and try to land work. And while Adrian Hubbard and Shayon Green did register sacks, no one up front really seemed to dominate. How this shakes out before the opener remains one of the more intriguing positional battles.

Quincy McDuffieA PLAYER WHO REALLY HELPED HIS CAUSE AGAIN… was receiver/kick returner Quincy McDuffie. He returned four kickoffs for 112 yards, including a 59-yarder and had one punt return for 11 yards. But, as was the case last week against Montreal, it was his work as a receiver that was just as impressive. He had three catches for 28 yards and pulled in the Bombers’ only TD of the game on a pass from Matt Nichols.

A humble sort, McDuffie wasn’t making assumptions about his future afterward, even as everyone around him was raving about his play.

“Being as it’s a cutthroat business you want to build your resume so that if things don’t go as planned and work out here then hopefully other teams see it,” said McDuffie. “We’ll just see how it plays out, but I’m feeling pretty good. We’ll see.”

MORE ON QUINCY… from Nichols, who has worked with him often during training camp:

“He’s a quick-twitch guy that can separate for you. He’s the type of player I think can definitely have a role and if anything was to happen to Ryan (Smith) or (Weston) Dressler, he’s the kind of guy who can step in. He’s the same type of player as those guys. He’s smart and he’s always wanting to learn. He’s a great guy to have around.”

Matt Nichols (15) of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the pre-season against the Ottawa REDBLACKS game at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Monday June 13, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras)That’s where McDuffie may have separated himself from the other main return candidates in camp in Justin Veltung, Carlos Anderson and Julian Talley. With CFL rosters being smaller, specialists have to be versatile.

“He’s good,” said Bombers coach Mike O’Shea of McDuffie. “He looked good out there. To me he’s as sure-handed a receiver as a returner… Chad Owens is very sure-handed as a receiver. I’m not comparing the two, but when you have a returner that is also a sure-handed receiver you have no problem using him in the receiving game.

“There have been many examples of returners in the CFL who are used sparingly on offence because of their ability to catch the ball. I’m very confident throwing the ball to him.”

ONE MORE TIDBIT ON McDUFFIE… who is an Orlando guy. He was touched by the REDBLACKS starting the game with a moment of silence while the names of the victims from the weekend’s horrible shooting incident were flashed on the scoreboard at TD Place.

“That’s my hometown. It was a shocker… I’m very thankful they did that and paid their respects to Florida”

NEXT: The Bombers coaching and management staff will huddle Tuesday to make some tough decisions. The team must reduce its roster to 65 by 11 p.m. (not including 2016 draft picks and non-counters Billy Pavlopoulos and John Rush) and then slice it down further to their 46-man (plus 10-player practice roster) by June 19th.


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