It’s finally here…after several months of waiting, weeks of training camps and two pre-season games, the Montreal Alouettes officially kick off the 2014 regular season. And they begin this season in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, a place that hasn’t been very kind to them since 2009.
In fact, the last time the Alouettes had won a game in that building they were hoisting the Grey Cup skywards. You’d have to go back a little bit further to find the last time the Alouettes actually beat the Stampeders in that stadium in Calgary. While this young nucleus is hardly concerned with such things, a win in this place would set the tone for the start of the season.
The first couple of games will prove to be a trial by fire, as the Alouettes play Calgary, BC and Winnipeg in the next 4 weeks. It seems every expert is picking the Lions to continue the current trend of not only hosting the Grey Cup, but winning it as well. (For the record, I am expecting a Montreal-BC Grey Cup)
Calgary didn’t exactly wow anyone during the pre-season but now with their quarterback situation settled for the time being, it won’t take them long to find their form. This always seems to be a game where each team brings out the best in each other and I don’t expect tomorrow’s tilt to be any different.
So who should you be keeping your eye out for in 2014? Here are five players that you can bank on:
He didn’t have the best pre-season outing versus Ottawa. In fact, his entire camp wasn’t much to write home about. But Smith still remains the ideal quarterback to lead the Alouettes in the year 2014 A.C. (After Calvillo). It’s going to take him a while to develop that chemistry with his receivers but when you look at his overall history when it comes to stepping into potentially dire situations, Troy is the kind of QB that will guide you through the muck with outstanding results. As soon as he lands a few major touchdowns in 2014, he’s going to be all sorts of confident.
No one can deny the overall talent of this guy. But last season was one that London not only doesn’t want to remember, but has already forgotten. He vowed to come back stronger than ever and erase all the memories of last year. And based on his strong pre-season play, he’s well on his way for doing just that. Everyone is going nuts for Chad Johnson, Duron Carter and S.J. Green, with good reason. But those guys are going to a lot of attention from opposing defenses and when then do, expect to see the pride of Richmond, VA in the end zone with the ball. Mark my words, it’s going to be all about #14 in 2014!
With a hamstring injury to Tyrell Sutton, Brandon Whitaker will be in his usual spot as starting running back. But if he can’t go, expect Steven Lumbala to get the call. This second year stud from the University of Calgary has also bided his time on special teams, waiting to be given the rock. The coaching staff must feel extremely confident in his abilities as they let former Most Outstanding Canadian Jerome Messam go during training camp. Lumbala will provide that extra bit of power as well to counter with Whitaker’s speed.
Since 2011, the Alouettes fans have been enamored with this potential star. The comparisons to the legendary Ben Cahoon still remain in their minds and it seems like finally, the Alouettes are going to give Bowling that opportunity to be like the Hall of Famer. What made Cahoon so great was his ability to get crucial second down yardage and I have said for years that Bo Bowling could do that as well if he’s in the slot. Much like Brandon London, it’s easier to overlook Bowling next to the other WRs. But he is hoping that you will forget about him as he deftly helps Troy Smith move the chains!
I’ve spoken at length about how the Alouettes had led the way in developing great football talent in Quebec. From guys like Eric Lapointe to Etienne Boulay (no relation) to Matthieu Proulx, they all came from Quebec and became superstars with Montreal. Nicolas will be the next to join that upper echelon. He was incredibly solid on special teams last season and had himself a tremendous camp. Noel Thorpe’s defense had been the talk of the town last season and I fully expect this youngster to make an impact this year.
So while I am expecting a lot for everyone on this Montreal team in 2014, these are the names that I think will be spoken about quite a bit as this season rolls along.
I’m not sure how many American football fans read this blog, but the CFL has some exciting news for you all. The league has just signed a multi-year deal with ESPN to broadcast all CFL games on their various channels. This ensures that the friends and families of American players will be able to keep up with the games, not to mention allow for more exposure and education of the Canadian game for potential players. For more info, click here.
Enjoy the game tomorrow no matter where you watch it. And get ready because this time next week, your Montreal Alouettes will be playing their home opener! Hope to see you there.
GO ALS GO!!!
About the Author
Written by Clifford Pine
Montreal born & bred, lover of sports. Passionate about the Montreal Alouettes. Also a great cook & not too bad a dancer.