Well, that didn’t go quite as planned…..
The Montreal Alouettes found themselves in familiar territory this past Saturday, losing to the Calgary Stampeders in Cowtown. And in what has become typical for Montreal sports fans that have access to the Internet, it’s now all doom and gloom. Our season is over, we suck, Troy Smith is garbage, etc etc etc. I’m starting to understand where William Shatner was coming from so many years ago with this gem from Saturday Night Live:
“Get a life, will you people!!”
One game in and you alleged fans throw in the towel?! Give me a break! True, Troy Smith didn’t exactly light the world on fire in his first official go as the next starting QB for the Alouettes. But let’s not forget that the man he replaced, Anthony Calvillo, didn’t exactly stroll off the campus of Utah State and win Grey Cups left, right and center. He had his fair share of bad days at the office and went through his own growing pains just like Smith seems to be. It’s not that easy replacing a legend.
When Smith came on in relief of Josh Neiswander last season, he struggled then as well. But once he found his groove, he was pretty darn good. Also easy to overlook is that Smith is now working under his third offensive coordinator in less than a year. That’s right, a YEAR. To put it another way, could anyone be expected to lead a Fortune 500 company successfully if you kept changing the vice-president?
That being said, Troy DOES need to work on his accuracy. He has many superstar receivers at his disposal and connecting with them is paramount to any success the Alouettes will have this year. Having the ability to throw the ball hard and deep is great, but if it’s constantly sailing over the heads of your receivers, that particular talent isn’t worth a hill of beans.
So Troy will now have the offense schemes dialed down considerably for him. Expect to see the ball now handed off more to Brandon Whitaker and Steven Lumbala, who notched Montreal’s sole touchdown (and his first as a pro!) last week. Whitaker only had 12 carries, but he looked great and seemed to have shaken off the rust of being on the sidelines last year. When healthy, there are few better than Whitaker at rushing. His speed and Lumbala’s muscle could be the 1-2 punch needed for this Alouettes offense as they learn how to fly through the air again.
Montreal opens at home with a tough test in the BC Lions, who lost a nail-biter at home to Edmonton and has usually been on the losing end against this Alouettes team when they play in Montreal. They too are having their woes as they have a new offensive line and must cope without All-Star QB Travis Lulay under centre for a while. They do have a proven winner in Kevin Glenn, but his five interceptions last week puts him in similar company with Troy Smith as both QBs are expected to lead their respective teams and maintain the glory of years previous.
After Friday night, one team will be 0-2 and will no doubt have to face some serious questions about their collective abilities going forward. History says that Montreal will win here then lose in two weeks for the rematch in Vancouver, but as often is the case in the CFL, you must expect the unexpected.
I said it last year and still maintain that this is a team loaded with talent. The city of Montreal has been very spoiled as of late with its winning sports teams, so it’s understandable why there’s an air of uncertainty right now with this team. But it’s a long season folks; where you start and where you finish can often be two very different things. Just ask the 2011 BC Lions, who were hosting a Grey Cup and started the season 0-5.
One of those first five losses was against….yup, the Alouettes in Montreal. You can figure out the rest from there. The Canadian Football League claims that “No Lead Is Safe” and that can apply to the standings as well.
Tomorrow’s home opener will be my tenth attended in a row, a fact that I take a lot of pride in as a fan of this Alouettes team. I’m looking forward to seeing some old and new faces alike, as well as taking in the new fan experience at Percival Molson Stadium. The weather report is looking good and best of all, no Thursday home games this season!
Fans can now turn Friday’s happy hour (known colloquially as “5 a 7″ in Quebec) into a great time watching football on the mountain, then back to the downtown core to enjoy all that the city of Montreal has to offer in the summertime. I, for one, cannot wait.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter for last minute news and notes. And download the Montreal Alouettes app onto your smartphone to enhance your game-day experience. Enjoy the match, no matter where you watch it.
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.