Back-to-back blues

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

The Blue Bombers had to wait until almost mid-season to play a different team in their own division.

And then they had to play that club, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, in back-to-back games.

The Bombers opened the CFL season with two games against the Montreal Alouettes, two versus the Toronto Argonauts and two against the reigning Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos.

Winnipeg played the first of the back-to-back games in Steeltown last week, stomping the Tiger-Cats 29-0.

The Tiger-Cats are in Winnipeg Friday and fans can get their first look at the likes of quarterback Jason Maas, if he is recovered from a hip pointer in time, running back Josh Ranek and kick returner Corey Holmes in person.

HANDLED EASILY

But even though they handled their opponents easily last Friday, suffice to say, the Bombers simply despise playing back-to-back matches, especially in an eight-team circuit.

"Man, I don't like it at all," Bomber wide receiver Chris Brazzell said recently. "You only have eight teams up here. I think, if whomever did the schedule really wanted to, they could do it to where you don't play back-to-back.

"We're already playing Montreal all the time, Toronto all the time and I don't know how many times we play Edmonton (twice). If you're going to do that, then spread it out to where you don't get tired of playing the same team over and over again. I'm not a fan of back-to-back but what do ya do?"

Back-to-back games mean that both sides have to change their gameplans for the following week -- unless the winner's gameplan worked so well that it is deemed unnecessary. And it is a distinct advantage to win the first game of the two, especially if a team does it on the road. But the home team in the first match obviously has the edge.

Hamilton will have yet another intangible going for them in the return of head coach Ron Lancaster Sr., who recently replaced the deposed Greg Marshall. Lancaster won his first game back on the sidelines, beating the Calgary Stampeders at home and his 'Cats gave the Alouettes a run for their money in a last-minute 41-38 loss in Montreal.

"Back-to-back games, they're all right," said Bomber offensive lineman Mike Abou-Mechrek. "But I just find it kind of ridiculous that there are back-to-back games when there are only seven other teams in the league. I mean, be creative a little bit, mix the schedule up a little bit, change things up.

"(But) back-to-back isn't so bad. It's when you play one team (Montreal) four times in five weeks, that's when it gets ridiculous. But it's about time we see a new team in (Winnipeg)."

And three more teams have still yet to pay a visit to Canad Inns Stadium this season.


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