Calvillo or bust for Ticats

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo takes a snap against the Stampeders in Montreal, Que., Oct....

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo takes a snap against the Stampeders in Montreal, Que., Oct. 30, 2011. (MARIE-CLAUDE FOREST/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 PM ET

HAMILTON - Getting past the Montreal Alouettes has always been about solving Anthony Calvillo.

Why should it be any different in the playoffs?

Calvillo is just one part of a potent Montreal offence, but he’s the biggest part and while there are times that he looks invincible, he is stoppable.

The B.C. Lions did it on Saturday, harassing the veteran quarterback into a miserable evening and the worst offensive game of the campaign as the Lions closed out the regular season with a 43-1 win.

Calvillo was sacked four times in the almost three quarters he worked and threw for just 63 yards.

The Ticats have had success using that formula as well. In the two home wins over Montreal combined, the defence sacked Calvillo a total of six times. Four of those sacks came courtesy of Justin Hickman.

But in the two trips to Montreal, where the Als held serve with home wins of their own, the defence had a pair of sacks in the first loss and just one in the second. Hickman was shut out in both games.

Hickman is well aware of the offensive firepower the Alouettes can throw at you. He knows they employ the league’s leading rusher and he’s well aware Jamel Richardson led the league with almost 2,000 yards receiving. And he knows Calvillo’s resume almost as well as Calvillo himself.

He’s also aware that the only time the Ticats have had any success against the Alouettes, Calvillo has been put on his butt repeatedly.

“Of course we’re talking about it,” Hickman said, sounding almost insulted. “Especially when you watch the B.C. game last week. I mean when you get to him, he is their offence. When you get to any quarterback and rattle his cage a little and get some hits on him, you can get him moving his feet and shifting his eyes and get him to where he’s not comfortable throwing the ball. That’s when we can have success.”

Calvillo knows it too.

Having been pressured into some hurried throws in the first game in Hamilton a determined Calvillo stood before the media assembled in the Alouettes’ hotel lobby the day before his second game against these same Ticats and vowed a different outcome.

He wouldn’t be rushed. He would finish his throwing motion and step into his throws. He would not let the pressure get to him.

And then he did.

For the second time at Ivor Wynne, Calvillo flinched in the face of the pressure. He was sacked three times and completed just 17 of his 30 attempts in a 44-21 blowout at the hands of the Tiger-Cats.

But in Montreal it was Calvillo again asserting his dominance and his offensive line keeping the Tiger-Cats at bay.

Hickman knows that needs to change this weekend if the Ticats have any hope of moving on.

“We have to get after him up front,” the league’s co-leader in sacks with 13 said. “If Calvillo has time to stand back there and pat the ball and let those big receivers get open, we’re not going to have a chance.”

The Ticats will catch one break they didn’t have in any of the four times they played them.

On the injured list for the Alouettes and gone for the year is offensive left tackle Josh Bourke.

Hickman is well acquainted with Bourke and hopes to take advantage of his absence.

“He’s a good offensive lineman,” Hickman said. “He’s long (6-foot-7) so for a shorter guy like me it’s tougher going against him. He’s got good feet and he plays good with his hands. I see they moved (Jeff) Perrett from right tackle to left. Looking at my prep going from right tackle to left tackle the footwork is completely different so I will try and do some things to manipulate that and get a win.”

Hickman had a pair of sacks in each of the Als’ visits to Hamilton and was shut out in both of Hamilton’s visits to Montreal in the sack department.

Hickman knows he’ll have to be better in Montreal than he has been, but so will everyone in a Hamilton uniform.

“If we’re not on our stuff they will blow us out,” he said.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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