In the swing of thingsWin in Week 1 helped team gel quickly after changes
"I'm going to throw for 400 yards, no picks and five touchdowns," barked linebacker George White yesterday after swapping jerseys and personaes with Marcus Crandell for media day at McMahon Stadium. The Stampeders quarterback could only smile at the prospect of lighting it up so spectacularly today against the Montreal Alouettes' wall-of-pain defence.
Although Crandell has never put together the kind of outing White was promising, the fourth-year Stamps starter offered glimmers of his immense talents in Week 5 last year in Montreal.
Completing 13 of 16 first-half passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, Crandell was performing beautifully before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
He said his performance against Montreal was the nearest he's come in the last couple of seasons to playing up to his capabilities.
"I was pretty close," nodded the soft-spoken Crandell, recalling the play during which he scrambled out of the pocket before being injured.
"I was reading the defence pretty good and the time I took off they dropped like nine guys. I knew I couldn't force anything and took off running. I was on pace to have a great game, the defence was playing well, too ...
"It's a zone where you're seeing everything. After preparing well all week, the preparations carried over to the game. It was one of those weeks when athletes prepare all week and it comes together on game day. All of it was coming together. It was just feeling good.
"That's our goal, to click as quick as possible, gel as a team as quick as possible. That's why I feel last week was good for us -- we did well on all three phases of the game."
The Stamps also lost to the eventual East Division champion Als in overtime in Week 1 last season, the start of a slide during which they won just five games, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Receiver Wane McGarity feels those two losses offer a hint of the promise the Stampeders hold this season, despite making wholesale changes in the off-season.
"Those two games did show that last year but still came up short," offered McGarity, pointing out their 33-10 win last week in Regina. "We don't know what kind of team we have yet but we played a great game against Saskatchewan.
"Now against Montreal, an excellent team, a blitz-package team, their offence is excellent ... we have to put it together.
"I think in the pass-first offence, he's got to be that way. Marcus should have a good year throwing the ball because we pass 90 percent of the time. I don't think Marcus believes he's there yet but he'll work hard so that he can get back to that level so it'll be just that easy for him."
With all the changes the club has experienced this spring and after just one regular-season game, Crandell thinks the Stamps are still discovering their strengths and potential. He completed 20 of 36 passes last week against the Riders, knowing the Als will provide a more stern test today.
"We're still in a learning mode, as far as quarterbacks getting our timing down with the receivers," Crandell said, noting Montreal's defence will force him to get rid of the ball quickly today while also receiving some painful hits in the backfield.
"That's how they are -- the quarterbacks in this league going against Montreal, you have to expect to get hit. I got hit last week and I expect to get hit this week. We just have to keep it to a minimum, get rid of the ball as quick as possible.
"We have to be good on first down, get five, six yards on first down so that when they're playing that defence, all we have to get is five yards. When it's second and 10 or more, they try to come up and make the (sack).
"That's their M.O."