A ray of sunshine for 'Gades

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The sun shone on the Renegades yesterday ... and maybe things are looking up.

After a cold and rainy Friday night in which they were handed their fourth-straight loss, the Renegades practised for an hour yesterday at Frank Clair Stadium in perfect conditions.

As dark as things might have looked Friday night after that 37-21 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, things look a little better today.

Not much, but a little.

Consider:

-- In a bold move, Montreal Alouettes coach Don Matthews turned down a chance to tie the game Saturday night against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver, going for a two-point conversion and the win. A pass to Ben Cahoon went incomplete and the Alouettes fell to 5-6, remaining tied with the Renegades with 10 points in the East Division (though the Alouettes have a game in hand and hold the tiebreaker.) Despite everything they have been through, second place in the East still isn't out of the question if the Renegades can get back to playing the way they did in the first six games of the season.

-- The Calgary Stampeders, the Renegades' opponents Thursday in Cowtown, beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday night, keeping the Ticats six points back of the Renegades. That means the Renegades probably won't have the Ticats to worry about in the Eastern playoff race.

-- There is a cloud on the horizon in that the Renegades must now worry about a crossover from the West Division. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, the fourth-place team in the West, moved to 6-6 yesterday, two points ahead of the Renegades, with their win over the Edmonton Eskimos. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Renegades would be on the outside looking in.

-- The Renegades came out of Friday night's game without any major injuries, said Renegades coach and GM Joe Paopao, though ankle sprains suffered by Canadian backups Gilles Lezi and Cam Yeow could force some juggling. Paopao said they are both doubtful for Thursday night's meeting with the Stampeders.

BAD IN SECOND HALF

The Renegades looked strong in the opening half against the Bombers Friday night, but as good as they looked then, they were as bad in the second half.

"I don't have an explanation," said Paopao of his team's inconsistencies. "If I did, our record would probably improve. It was encouraging to see our first half.

"You've got to control the line of scrimmage. You've got to finish plays."

Indeed, that seems to be the biggest difference between the Renegades of earlier this season and the team that has lost four straight.

In those half-dozen game-influencing plays there are in every game, the Renegades were making things happen.

Now? Not so much.

The defence came up with some huge plays when the Renegades were winning regularly.

"What we haven't done the last few ball games is make those plays to be successful," said defensive coordinator Greg Marshall yesterday.

"Through the first eight or nine games when we had the opportunity to make those plays -- an interception, a sack, stopping them short of a first down -- we did a good job.

"We haven't been able to do that the last few games and that's contributed to our struggles.

'BIT OF A LULL'

"We're in a bit of a lull and we need to snap out of it," he added. "We're good for stretches in the game and then we have a lull for a couple of series. They turn those into points and we can't afford that. "The other team is going to make plays.

"We can't give them plays. We've been giving away the plays we need to make. When you're in a position to make a play, you've got to make it. That's been our philosophy from Day 1."


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