Bombers hurry up and wait

Bombers QB Buck Pierce throws against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during Wednesday's CFL pre-season...

Bombers QB Buck Pierce throws against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during Wednesday's CFL pre-season game. The Bombers used much more of the hurry-up offence than they have in recent years. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:44 AM ET

Had an interesting conversation with first-year Blue Bomber offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton the other day.

It had to do with the hurry-up offence, something that’s been virtually non-existent for the Bombers in recent years, other than the occasional last-minute panic situation.

Safe to say the Big Blue have done more of the no-huddle in training camp this month than they’ve done in a couple of seasons worth of games.

So the natural question for Crowton: how much will we see of it once the footballs start flying for keeps?

“I don’t know yet,” a grinning Crowton said. “Thinking about it. We’ll see.”

In Wednesday night’s pre-season finale, a 26-25 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, we saw, all right.

Crowton’s top-secret offence was all over the hurry-up, something he no doubt had planned all along.

What this means, of course, is anybody’s guess.

In that same conversation, Crowton was coy about how much of the Bomber attack we’d see in this game.

In fact, every time you asked a coach or player for details about the offence, they’d act like a poker player holding a full house right off the deal.

It’s as if they’ve reinvented the wheel and can hardly wait to show it off.

The results of this no-huddle work in progress against the Tabbies, Wednesday?

In the early going, you realized what head coach Paul LaPolice might have meant when he said the offence is about half old, half new.

The two-and-outs got really old, really fast.

Playing their offensive starters against Hamilton’s first-team defence, the time of possession “battle” in the first quarter resembled the kind of work shift we could all get used to: 11:30 to 3:30, in favour of the Cats.

Things got slightly better in the second, thanks to a turn of events almost as surprising as the appearance of the no-huddle.

After showing and talking about all kinds of new screen passes in camp, the Bombers began airing it downfield, No. 1 pivot Buck Pierce and veteran Terrence Edwards starting the festivities.

Paying little more than lip service to the running game, Winnipeg did get nice scampers from veteran Chris Garrett and newcomer Chad Simpson.

But this was air-Crowton, all the way, albeit a shaky pre-season version of it.

Pierce completed just five of 15 passes, an on-paper disaster on one hand. But the yardage: 154, an average of 30 yards per completion.

The biggest play came on a Pierce scramble-stop-and-heave to a wide-open Kito Poblah, Pierce paying the price by taking a monster hit from Hamilton’s Renauld Williams.

No. 4 shook it off like No. 4 usually does.

And just when you were starting to wonder if training camp standout Chris Matthews was one of those players who does it in practice but not when the lights are on, lanky No. 13 got open deep and hauled in another Pierce bomb to cement his job in the starting air troop.

So what did this passing fancy produce?

A measley eight points in that 30 minutes with Pierce at the helm, as two stalled drives were punctuated by kicking foibles, one of the last things coach LaPo wanted to see going into the season.

Incumbent Justin Palardy clanked his 30-yard field goal attempt off a goal post, while import challenger Eric Wilbur yanked a low liner wide left, from 29.

In the second half, with first Alex Brink, then Justin Goltz and Joey Elliott at the helm, the Bombers kept putting the ball in the air, generated a couple more touchdowns and came back from a 23-8 deficit to make a game of it.

Who knows, maybe we didn’t see anything close to the finished product.

From what we saw of the starters, though, Crowton and Co. have a ways to go.

With Week 1 on the road against the Grey Cup champion Lions eight days away, now’s the time to hurry up.


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