Here’s a shocker.
The Montreal Alouettes plan to make Cory Boyd the object of their attention on Saturday night.
“Nobody is disguising the fact we have to stop the run,” Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman said late on Friday afternoon, not long after the team’s train pulled into Union Station.
“There’s no guarantee we will be effective, but we work hard at it.”
Two weeks ago, the Als didn’t necessarily bring Boyd, the Argonauts’ star running back, to a halt.
He had 53 yards on nine carries for an average of 5.9 yards, but more importantly, the Alouettes kept the Argos’ offence off the field.
So Boyd, then, was not able to do what he does best. And when he did get the football, he was up trying to bash through a rested Als defence.
“They sustained some long drives, but I think this time around we’ve got to not penalize ourselves the way we did and give these guys as many chances as we did,” Boyd said.
“If we keep their offence off the field and keep their defence gassed, I think we have a pretty good chance.”
But even when opposing teams have an opportunity to run against the Alouettes, they don’t do it. Through the first six weeks, teams averaged just 80.7 yards a game on the ground against Montreal.
Still, Trestman does not expect a walk in the park at the Rogers Centre, on a night when both sides will be wearing replicas of their uniforms from the 1970s, celebrating one of the Canadian Football League’s retro weeks.
When Trestman viewed film of the Argonauts’ last-minute victory in Edmonton last week versus the Eskimos, he saw what others did, that the Argos cleaned themselves up on offence after they were throttled in Montreal.
But the Eskimos aren’t nearly on the same level as the Alouettes, and for quarterback Cleo Lemon and the offence to grow from the win out west, they’ll have to be close to letter perfect.
Yet Trestman is wary.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us against a team that is ascending, in our opinion,” Trestman said.
“They recovered well from two weeks ago.
“We have to be mindful that Cleo continues to progress, their passing game continues to get better and they are using Boyd out of the backfield, which creates even more issues for us defensively. There is a lot for us to concentrate on.”
The Argos were flagged six fewer times versus the Eskimos than they were against the Als and one off-shoot was that the offence had time to work.
The offensive line dominated the Eskimos’ defensive front, a crucial factor that was missing in Montreal.
“I felt like both sides of the ball, their lines took it to our lines and that’s the only time this year I felt that was the case,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said of the 41-10 loss at McGill.
“We need to take it to their line, whether that means running the ball but also in pass protection.
“It’s an all-around line versus line, physical mentality that we’ve tried to develop here that I think we got away from a little bit.”
Boyd knows the Alouettes are going to be all over him again.
They had said prior to the game two weeks ago that they could stop him only by gang-tackling him, and they did get to him quickly.
That’s fine, in Boyd’s mind.
“When we played B.C. (in Week 4), that’s all I heard from their defence — ‘Oh, we’re scheming you.’ You’re not scheming me up, you’re scheming our offence up.
“If they want to scheme on one man, then we’ve got 11 other guys who are going to go out there and perform. I have a target on my back every week.”